By: Yashika Dhall
With the pandemic, many people are nowadays working from home. You may find yourself with a new job that you want to turn into another career outside of your day job. But is this legal? Can your current employer stop you from working other jobs?
The answer is it depends. Employers do have the ability to restrict employees from working a second job but won’t prohibit the activity as long as it doesn’t affect your work performance, or it’s not for a competitor.
Why Do Employers Care about Multiple Job Holding (Moonlighting)?
Moonlighting or multiple job-holding are used to describe those who have a second job besides their “day-job” – and it doesn’t have to be at night. Even if you aren’t working for another employer, you may be considered a moonlighter if you have your own side business.
There are 2 reasons that concern employers about second jobs and why there might be restrictions on them:
- Working for competitors (Conflict of Interest): In certain professions, working for a competing business is a big no-no. Employers might worry about confidential information or “trade secrets” being shared or taking clients away. So, employers might enforce written agreements in the form of a non-compete clause that can restrict certain activities you do outside of your job.
- Job performance: Having two jobs can place undue stress on both the employer and employee. Statistics Canada noted a majority of multiple jobholders (65.7%) work 10 hours more per week, on average than single jobholders. So, if your part-time project begins to affect the quality of performance at your first job during work hours, your employer might become concerned about your commitment and energy to your first job.
What Can Employers Do?
An employer can set the terms of your employment when you start a job, and this can include prohibiting moonlighting. If an employer has made it clear in your employment contract that it is against company policy to take on another job and an employee then breaches that term, an employer may have cause to terminate the employee.
Generally, in Ontario and other Canadian provinces (except Québec), employers can use written agreements in the employment contract to prevent employees from taking their business away. These are called “restrictive covenants” and can limit certain activities that an employee can do outside of their job. This doesn’t give the employer carte blanche to restrict all activity but only those which are reasonable between the employee and employer.
What does this mean for you?
The key concern is that the second job doesn’t harm the primary employer’s proprietary interests. As long as an employee is not working for a competing business or engaging in work that can hurt the employer’s reputations and does not affect their responsibilities, an employee may be able to keep both jobs. For example, a 2015 Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board decision found that moonlighting was not a just cause for termination.
For more general information about what rights and benefits you are entitled to, check out the MyOpenCourt Employee/Contractor tool. By asking you a few questions about your working conditions, we can help you determine if you are an employee or contractor and what you should know about your employment situation.
To see all of MyOpenCourt’s tools, please visit https://tool.myopencourt.org/.