Beware "Double Dippers" and Moonlighters: Your Second Job Could Turn Out to be a Fireable Offence

Published: 22 Nov 2021

Many employees are quick to seize upon new ways to maximize their income. Many choose to moonlight — but leave their employer in the dark about their second, or third, job.

Employers try to keep a close eye on employee productivity. If your employer discovers that you have been knitting baby jumpers for your Etsy shop, delivering food, or engaging in any sort of secondary employment while on company time, it will have good cause to terminate you.

Not all moonlighting will result in termination, though. Working multiple jobs is a harsh reality for many Canadians and a common sense economic choice for others, but employees do not have an unfettered right to work as many jobs, for as many hours as they wish, at their primary employer’s expense.

Even where grounds for cause cannot be made out, employers have every right to terminate an employee if the secondary job creates a conflict of interest, affects productivity or attendance, or involves the use of company resources. Unfair though this may seem to some, employers have no obligation to accommodate moonlighting employees.

To protect themselves from double dippers or dishonest moonlighters, employers (particularly those with remote workforces) should have policies requiring employees to disclose any secondary employment and prohibiting using company time or resources for outside work. Those policies should put employees on notice of the penalties for non-compliance.

To employees, our advice is simple. Be honest and smart. Employers value integrity. Unless you are senior, rarely will an employer take issue with you working in another job outside of normal working hours. Being honest will also provide you the opportunity to explain your circumstances and, if you are fired, bolster a claim for wrongful dismissal. But do not gamble your day job on the chance that double dipping will temporarily boost your income.

We have had several cases involving employees working from home prior to COVID-19. In almost every one of them, we learned during the discovery process that the employee in question had been working on other jobs as well. In one, the employee admitted that the reason he did not want to move from New Brunswick to the office in Calgary was because he would have to give up his other (several) undisclosed “jobs.” In every such case, the employer’s case became immediately stronger.

Employees should beware and employers should ensure they have a handle on their employees’ whereabouts and the policies to regulate that.


Howard Levitt is senior partner of Levitt Sheikh, employment and labour lawyers with offices in Toronto and Hamilton. He practises employment law in eight provinces. He is the author of six books, including the Law of Dismissal in Canada. Katherine Golobic is an associate at Levitt Sheikh.


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Howard Levitt

Firm: LSCS Law
Country: Canada

Practice Area: Labour and Employment

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