Can My Employer Restrict Me From Other Part-Time Work?

Check your primary employer's rules before you start moonlighting.

Check your primary employer's rules before you start moonlighting.

Your search for a part-time job paid off and now the company wants you to start right away. But depending on your primary job, the kind of work you want to do part-time and your employer’s rules, your company might have restrictions on employees taking on part-time work. Check your workplace policies before you start moonlighting because some employers exercise their right to restrict you from working another job or engaging in other business or employment ventures.

Employment Agreement Clauses

Employers protect their trade secrets and competitive strategy with employment agreements that contain nondisclosure, confidentiality and noncompete clauses. If your primary job is subject to any of those terms, you could be restricted from working part-time in another job. Review your agreement to ensure you’re not violating your employer’s policies concerning part-time work. Read your employee handbook and ask a human resources department staff member or your own manager for clarification. Failing to honor the terms and conditions of your full-time employment can land you in hot water or get you fired.

Public Employee Restrictions

If you work in the executive branch of the federal government, Title 5, Part 2635.101 of the Code of Federal Regulations says your job is one of “public trust.” The government has a reasonable expectation to ask that you turn down opportunities to use your public service for personal gain. In addition, Part 2635.101(b)(10) of the federal rules states: “Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.” In some cases, other government employees who don't work in the executive branch of government may have to seek prior approval before taking on another job.

Consult Your Manager

Even if you’re not specifically prohibited from working part-time by federal laws or your organization’s code of ethics, talk to your manager about why you need or want to work another part-time job. If financial circumstances forced you to take on another job, be honest about it. In an unstable economy or when you experience financial hardships that you need to resolve, the solution for many is to find part-time work. Explain to your manager that you accepted another job but that you don't want to violate any of the company’s restrictions, if there are any. Don’t prepare some flowery script – just be straightforward and ask if there are any restrictions pertaining to part-time employment in addition to your current job. If you’re concerned there could be a problem, it’s wise to raise the issue yourself.

Considerations

If your employer doesn’t impose restrictions on part-time work, still make your primary job your priority. If you’re in a field where you can adjust your work schedule to accommodate other commitments, think long and hard before you starting trading shifts or asking your primary employer to accommodate your part-time job schedule. And whatever you do, never take off sick from your first job to work at your part-time job. Doing so will call into serious question your personal ethics and integrity and if that happens -- even if your employer doesn't restrict you from working part-time -- you could lose your primary job for violating company ethics related to honest business principles.

 

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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