our new hire started another full-time job the same week he started ours

A reader writes:

We recently brought on a new hire in a full-time role. Let’s call him Drew. Drew has been here for about a month now, and while I haven’t explicitly checked in with his supervisor, I haven’t heard any complaints about his onboarding or early performance. (I’m the HR manager.)

Today, I got a call from a coworker whose husband works for a similar organization in our city. Long story short, it sounds like Drew took a different full-time position with this other organization the same week that he started with us! The story (all gathered through a coworker’s spouse) is that this new hire started with both organizations to see which one he liked better (working both full-time jobs at once, from home), then decided that he wanted to stay on with us and left the other organization in the lurch. I have reason to think the intel was probably good.

My coworker wasn’t sure what to do with this information so she brought it to me — and to be honest, I’m also not sure what to do with it! I don’t want to stir up suspicion if it turns out to be nothing, but I am also concerned about letting it go if he is the kind of employee who would do that to another organization. His role is an important one for our org, so we need someone stable in that position.

Thoughts on next steps? I wonder if I should reach out to the other organization to confirm if it’s true before making any steps internally. All in all, if he’s performing well and we’re not seeing issues on our end. Is this something that you would see as a terminable offense if it turns out to be true?

So did Drew misrepresent the time he spent working for you in his first week? If he allowed his manager to think he was working at his job with you for 40 hours that week, while in fact he was also working for the other organization with that same set of hours, that’s hugely not okay. That’s an integrity problem, and it means his manager can’t trust him to work from home, among other things.

Then there are the integrity issues of simultaneously starting at two full-time jobs while intending to quit one of them. Honestly, 10 years ago I would have come down harder on him for that piece of it … but the older I get, the more I appreciate how much capitalism screws over most workers, and the less inclined I am to lambaste someone for finding a way to play the game that benefits them. (He didn’t play it very successfully here, though.)

But that doesn’t mean you need to feel okay about it, or accept it at your organization. (And my being less inclined to lambaste him isn’t the same thing as thinking it’s fine to do.)

I’m also curious about whether your organization has a relationship with the other organization he was working for. If you work on projects together (as is common for nonprofits, for example), will there be relationship ramifications to keeping Drew on? If he intentionally screwed over a partner organization, you’ve got to factor that in.

This is all just musing though. As for concrete next steps: Talk to his manager before you do anything else. She’s the person who most needs this information, and she’s the one who should make the call about whether there’s anything she wants to do here. (She’s also the one most likely to know if he seemed strangely less available that first week.) If I were in her shoes, I’d just ask Drew point-blank about what I’d heard and see what he says. If the info isn’t true, he deserves the opportunity to clear his name. And if it is true, it’s reasonable to ask him to account for what was going on that first week, and what his thought process was.

I’m trying to think of whether there’s anything he could say that would make me feel okay about him having done this. If it turns out that he did give you full availability that first week and the other organization only needed him for some small projects that could be done in the evening (for example) … well, alright, but he still accepted a job with you knowing he might quit it within days. He has the right to do that, in theory … and his manager has the right to decide she can’t trust him because of it, with all that comes with that … including deciding that lack of trust is incompatible with keeping him in the job, if that’s where she ends up.

But none of this can go any further until you talk to Drew’s manager and she talks to Drew. Until then, this is all just speculation.

{ 483 comments… read them below }

    1. I’m screaming inside too!*

      I’d be surprised if things like this weren’t already happening a lot.
      I’m with Allison in that I’m less likely to side eye anyone who’s trying to survive in a system that routinely makes it had for workers to have any sense of security in their jobs. But I also agree that doing what Drew has allegedly done is ethically very troubling. I think the best first step is for someone to ask Drew if he did what the coworker says he did. But if he then said that yes, he took two jobs to see which he liked better, I honestly don’t know what I’d do – maybe take it to HR? I don’t think it’s something I’d want to decide on my own.

      1. Anon for this*

        We had a recent case of this at our company, with a senior exec. They were let go as soon as it was discovered they were trying to do two FT jobs from home.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          If it’s a financial institution job it’s against regulations to work full time for 2 different companies.

            1. CoveredInBees*

              Lots of private employers have “moonlighting” clauses in the handbook that basically say any full-time employees cannot have other full-time jobs and any part-time (including freelance) work needs to be disclosed to screen for conflicts of interest.

              1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                Yes, we have that in our contracts (not in the US, so we actually have contracts, not at-will employment).
                Side jobs require disclosure to check for conflict of interest, including legal work time restrictions. Even publishing in our field requires approval as part of our work is in a regulatory role (think something like chartered engineers verifying building code compliance – they could not work a side job at an architecture firm or construction company).

              2. Brad Fitt*

                Lots of private employers overreach significantly beyond what is reasonable in their handbooks, and the employee handbook isn’t the law so check with a lawyer if the company ever wants to try to enforce something that sounds a little fucky.

                Example: Worked for a place (throwaway job, call center) with a bit in the handbook that was a rights-grab claiming “any intellectual property created by any employee during their tenure with the company, whether during work hours or otherwise.”

                None of us did anything like that for the company as part of our job so whatever. Then one of my coworkers got an offer to publish her book and her manager started talking about how she’d need to bring in the contract for legal to review, and a copy of the manuscript for HR, and he said they’d probably let her use her name on the book but he wasn’t sure. Manager deadass thought the CEO of the call center was going to sign this publishing contract and collect royalties off a book some customer service rep wrote on her days off.

        2. First rule of HR is "the rules don't apply to HR"*

          We also had the same thing happen and fired the employee when we found out. She has sued us for wrongful termination. The kicker? She is an HR professional.

        3. Nonprofiteer*

          I recently worked with a senior exec who we discovered was faking business trips (for us) to do consulting work for his previous firm. The same firm he was paying through our org for mysterious projects that never appeared. It was quite a lesson in how to destroy a promising career in one’s early 40s.

        4. Joan Rivers*

          I’d be tempted to contact the other organization and discuss this “strange rumor” out of fairness to your employee, to clear his name if it’s untrue —
          and see what the CEO says.
          Is that not a good idea? I notice it’s not being suggested. Obviously act skeptical, so you’re “clarifying” rather than “accusing.”

          You two might be able to share info. about Drew based on both your hiring processes.
          And if you discover Drew is shifty, you could meet with him and have the other CEO walk in. If you’re into drama.

        5. Joan Rivers*

          1) How did the informer find out he was doing this, if he was?

          2) And how much could Drew actually learn about two jobs in a week?

      2. JSPA*

        It’s ethically troubling if he shorted either job. Or intended to leave one or the other in the lurch after a short trial.

        But I know too many people in service jobs who work 60-80 hours in a combination of 2 to 4 different jobs (as well as lawyers and accountants who, in push times, put in that much time at a single job) to assume this was a fully-formed plan.

        If full time for each job is, say, 35 hours, and he worked 7o hours–and if he took both jobs due to financial hardship, and with the intention of continuing to do both, and found he couldn’t hack it. (Unless there’s wording in the contract specifying work hours, not working outside jobs, etc.)

        Less side-eye, mind you, if he was also in a trial period with either or both of the organizations, in which they could have dumped him without advance notice nor repercussions; IMO, seems like turnabout is fair play.

        1. Yellow Warbler*

          This is where I land. Many people work that many hours at a combo of jobs; I don’t see why it’s automatically unacceptable to work FT at two jobs (unless there are specific coverage hours that are contradictory).

          1. KHB*

            But in your first week at a new job, you’re almost certainly not at the point yet where you can work independently enough to pick and choose your own work hours with complete freedom. You usually need to be available during some core hours for trainings, meet and greets, getting your stuff set up, and so on. Maybe it’s not literally impossible that Drew could have found a way to put in true full-time hours for each employer, but I’d be flabbergasted if that’s what he was doing.

            This is why so many employers require that you at least disclose any other jobs you have. It’s not necessarily 100% forbidden, but you do need to let the employer know what’s going on.

            1. Yellow Warbler*

              We don’t have enough info to automatically assume that both were stereotypically 9-5 jobs in the first place; it’s entirely possible that the job posted non-standard hours upfront. I went into my current job knowing it was a 6-3 office job, because I support our APAC region. We just don’t know.

              1. KHB*

                True, we don’t know for sure, but again, I’d be flabbergasted if that were the case. Even most office jobs with nonstandard hours are not so nonstandard that you can fit two non-overlapping workdays into a single day. But obviously, if Drew really had been working one job from 6-2 and the other from 2-10, or whatever, that would change my advise to OP.

                1. Anonnie*

                  My though, also. The industry is not specified, but it is not a surprise to see people working a combination of day, evening, and night shifts for healthcare jobs. Hospitals, for example, need 24 hour coverage. An IT tech can do two shifts in one day, working from home, to meet two different hospitals needs (6am-2pm for job one, the 3pm-11pm for job two. It would be a lot of hours, but honestly, this doesn’t sound outlandish to me, especially given this economy. If the employee in question was a new graduate, thankful to land on these opportunities, I wouldn’t be surprised that he bent over backwards to make it work.

                2. JSPA*

                  If the hours are not set, except for “respond in a reasonable time,” he may have the concentration and drive* to switch back and forth in (say) interdigitated two hour shifts. Say someone is working job A from 6-8, 10-12, 2-4 and 6-8 PM. There are plenty of jobs where most coworkers wouldn’t even notice the gaps. The few who did spot the periodicity would likely assume that the employee works better with a break and exercise every few hours, had medical issues, or was trading off childcare with a spouse.

                  *(Or a non-delusional reason to believe he could pull it off, only to find otherwise)

                3. KHB*

                  @JSPA: “(Or a non-delusional reason to believe he could pull it off, only to find otherwise)”

                  This is exactly why a lot of employers – very reasonably – require that you can’t try to multitask like this without clearing it with them in advance. Because they know better than you do what the job requires and what they need from you. If they think they’re paying you for your (mostly) undivided attention for eight straight hours a day, they have the right to know if they’re not getting that.

                4. TardyTardis*

                  Although I did the taxes for a woman who worked 60 hours week, but was never paid overtime, because each building in a medical complex was a different ‘corporation’ even though it was all the same place. So I am not inclined to worry about some companies who want to set limits here.

              2. Tired of Covid-and People*

                I would make that assumption, it’s a material fact that OP likely would have mentioned it the hours didn’t overlap.

            2. KitKat*

              Yeah, but did he show up for those things? It doesn’t sound like anyone had any idea about this until the OP got outside info. If he was showing up for what was expected, who cares what he was doing the rest of the time? After years in healthcare, where employees are regularly used & abused, then let go as soon as profits dip, I am totally behind employees who look out for themselves.

              1. KHB*

                The employer, most likely, cares. If they didn’t, Drew could just have told them up front about his plans to work two full-time jobs simultaneously, and do you really think they would have said yes to that?

                Because the letter was written by someone in HR, not someone who was involved in Drew’s day to day work, we don’t know that there weren’t any problems with his performance or availability.

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  Okay, but what if there weren’t? Does it really matter what he was doing with the rest of his time at long as he was available for the company he currently works for when he was expected to be, and got all his work done for them on time and to spec? (If there were problems with his work for the other company, that’s theirs to address, not LW’s company, and since he already left them, they don’t need to care.)

                  Most companies object if you tell them in advance that you’re going to do this kind of thing because they don’t believe you can pull it off and give them what they expect of you. But if he’s already done that, then in my view he has proven the concerns they would have had ahead of time to be unfounded in his specific case. And if those concerns are, in fact, unfounded, and he actually has proven this, then I don’t see any reason for the company to object after the fact.

                  If he did actually fail to give them the appropriate quantity or quality of work, or to be present for events at which he was expected, then this things can and should be addressed in their own right, perhaps together with, “I think this kind of problem is pretty common when you try to juggle too much work all at once, and so I would prefer that you not try to do another full time job while you’re working for us again.” But if he really did get everything done appropriately so that the only way anybody would have known that there was anything weird going on was that somebody saw him… well, I think he earned the right to do it by doing it so well that it didn’t cause any trouble.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Replying to Working Hypothesis here:
                  It’s not clear how high up Drew is in the hierarchy, or what kind of work he’s doing. If he’s updating databases, or transcribing recordings, or various other low-level stuff, chances are his productivity can be measured quite easily. If he’s a manager with long-term projects to be carefully planned with roll-out due in a couple of years, then it’s much harder to evaluate just how much time he spent working for OP’s firm.
                  This is the kind of possible abuse that makes spyware an attractive solution for employers. Well played, Drew, now nobody will be allowed to as much as go to pee without having to fill in a form to explain their keyboard inactivity.

                3. KHB*

                  @Working Hypothesis: That’s not how a full-time job works. You’re not just being paid to perform a particular set of tasks (as you would be with contract or freelance work) – you’re also being paid to be present for a particular set of hours. Even if you’re such a genius that you can reliably do 40 hours’ worth of work in 20 hours, you don’t get to unilaterally decide that 20 hours is enough and go do your own thing (let alone take another job) for the other 20 hours.

                  The first few weeks at a new job (which, again, are what we’re talking about here) are especially touch-and-go, because people vary in their efficiency and speed of picking up new routines, and the employer is still adjusting their expectations of what 40 hours’ worth of work looks like for Drew. Just because Drew’s actions didn’t arouse any suspicion in the moment (and again, we don’t know that they didn’t – just that any concerns hadn’t yet reached the level of being escalated to HR) doesn’t mean that he definitively proved all concerns about his ability to work two jobs simultaneously to be unfounded.

            3. Rachel in NYC*

              I do think part of the question is whether the employer requires (for COI purposes) the disclosure/approval of other jobs.

          2. nona*

            Because if you work 1 job for 70-80 hours, that’s working days AND evenings.

            In this case, I would assume he’s trying to work the same 8 hrs a day (8-5) at each job, and…you just can’t do that. If one was 8-5 and the other was 4-12…maybe?

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              For a week, there’s no reason you can’t work days and evenings, and a lot of incentive if it lets you learn for sure which job you want.

              1. Caroline Bowman*

                Very true, and given that ”soz it’s not working out, today will be your last day” is totally standard for new employees for any reason, it feels a bit like fair play.

                My only real hesitation is Drew’s willingness to take a role actively knowing he would ditch it within a maximum of 2 weeks, most likely one. Even so, *assuming he completed all his work timeously and met targets/ was available to a satisfactory level* I can’t get that worked up. It takes chutzpah to do something like that and pull it off.

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  There’s also the possibility that he may have intended to outsource some work to a geezer in India that would do the work for only half the wage. It happened, pre-covid.

                2. Claire*

                  Except not only did both employers put a lot of time and effort into hiring and onboarding Drew, they also rejected the other candidates for him. Which means another person who might have actually wanted the job got turned down.

            2. TardyTardis*

              And yet, some companies do have their workers work those kind of hours and have dodges set up so they never have to pay overtime. Cry me a river. /s

            3. WQR*

              I have a coworker (engineer) that had two full-time jobs for more than 20 years (both large well-known Aerospace companies). He worked during first shift for the other company and then worked evenings for us and filled out his remaining hours on Saturdays.

              The jobs were different enough that there was no conflict of interest. He continued working for both companies until one of them moved his job to another state and he had to retire from that position. He still works for our company and is a much better employee now that he is working with us during our working hours and is more focused on his one job.

          3. Sam*

            It really depends on the type of job. Particularly in jobs that are considered more white collar, it is often explicitly stated in the employee handbook or elsewhere that you cannot work a second job (or a second job in the same industry), in part because they want your full attention, but also because it can creat some significant conflicts of interest both for the employee and employer(s).

            It’s one thing if you’re, say, a lawyer and have an etsy shop on the side. It’s another if your secretly providing legal services for random non-firm clients. (Law (my field) is an area where it’s really clear why it would be an issue, but similar considerations apply in plenty of other fields)

          4. Tired of Covid-and People*

            Nah, can’t serve two masters. What if meetings are scheduled at the same time, or there is travel required? This is different than patching together several part-time jobs worked at different times. The employers are being misled.

            1. Caroline Bowman*

              Sure, but only for a week. It’s the duration that swings it for me. Yes it’s not ideal, but at least in theory, Drew has done as expected and there have been no issues and he quickly made the choice and that was that. If either company decided he wasn’t right for the job, they’d have dumped him in a second for a back-up candidate and that would have been perfectly fine.

            2. John B Public*

              You say that, yet I’m under the impression we’re not slaves.

              I have a business relationship with my employer, not a servile one.

              And if a business can hire twenty people with the expectation that half (or less!) will be there at the end of a probationary period, I don’t see why an employee can’t play by the same rules.

      3. AVP*

        This is totally happening. I know one person who has a FT job and an FT MBA program and the two don’t know about each other. But the job is screwing around with a weird layoff structure, and the timing for various meetings and things seems to be working out, so it kind of makes sense to wait it out and see what happens rather than preemptively quit the wrong one.

        1. Lora*

          This I think is not really a thing to worry about though – I’ve known plenty of people whose workplaces actually sponsor them for an MBA (I’m doing that right now, but obviously my workplace knows about it since they’re paying my tuition) and more who got a flexible schedule to complete degrees while they worked, and in the end it worked well for everyone. Employer got an employee sticking around longer than they otherwise would have and often end up promoting the person, employee was able to complete a degree without going into massive student loan debt. It’s not a conflict of interest the same way working for two employers might be.

        2. KayEss*

          A “full-time” course load is usually like 15 hours a week, not really something that prevents you from also working a 9-5 job unless it has classes that meet during your workday.

          There are intensive programs that load you up with 30-40 hours of official coursework per week and prohibit you from working while completing the degree, but those are rare and not usually what a “full-time” degree program refers to.

          1. A Genuine Scientician*

            A full time course load involves ~15 hours / week of time spent in the classes themselves. To succeed in these courses typically takes 2-3 hours of outside work for each hour inside the classroom (or, these days, Zoom session)*. Reading, problem sets, papers, exam prep, etc. depending on what the courses are. It’s possible for some students to scrape a passing grade with much less effort, but also they’re probably not getting much out of the course if they’re putting in almost no time outside of just the classes.

            Being a full time student really is a full time commitment if you’re trying to do more than just get your name on a piece of paper. It’s not a job (at least at the undergrad level) for all the reasons Alison’s posted about before, but it’s also absolutely not just 15 hours a week.

            * There is absolutely variation here. Certain types of courses require substantially more; writing intensive lit classes, common weed out classes like organic chemistry, any sort of performance class, etc. Others definitely fewer — many lab courses meet for more hours than you’d expect for their number of units, and involve less homework and outside prep. I’m talking here on average.

        3. KTB*

          An FT MBA could be in the evenings or weekends that wouldn’t interfere with a FT job. Plenty of people juggle FT courseloads alongside FT jobs. I did a part time MBA that turned nearly FT during some quarters because I was squeezing in some courses in order to graduate in a timely manner. I was also working a FT job and planning a wedding, so it’s doable.

      4. Janet's Planet*

        “I’m with Allison in that I’m less likely to side eye anyone who’s trying to survive in a system that routinely makes it had for workers to have any sense of security in their job”

        I get your point but that’s like saying, “Hey, lots of people cheat on their partners, so I decided to cheat first.” Then you start dating a partner who isn’t a cheater, like OP’s company, and they suffer for it. That’s not right.

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          Not quite. Making a commitment expressly not to cheat is one thing, but dating one person while dating another at the beginning of a relationship where very little commitment has been given, otherwise known as playing the field, is more like an analogy. Yes of course Drew committed to both jobs, but he seems to have fast made the decision as to which to go for, during an initial training period. So yes, it’s not ideal, but the system seems to demand total commitment from one side, while allowing for so many let-outs to the other, that it’s hardly surprising that this happens.

          If either company had no longer wanted him, they would have ditched him with no second thoughts.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ooh interesting! A lot of jobs are pretty slow the first week or two, and I know personally that a handful of onboarding meetings/trainings at my company got turned into videos for new hires to watch on their own time, I can imagine that it wouldn’t be impossible for someone to juggle two jobs remotely to start.

      I’m not saying it’s great, but I can see it happening now that a lot of jobs are remote these days.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I could maybe see it with some jobs, but I just started a new job four weeks ago, and the first two weeks they had me jam-packed with zoom/Teams meet & greets to get to know people. There’s no way I could have successfully done two on-boardings at once.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          That’s great. I’ve found that often the boss is unprepared and doesn’t have a full schedule for the new guy. I said below that experiencing this virtually is much worse than experiencing being at lose ends in the office where at least there may be coworkers to talk to to and such. Having a full schedule of meet & greets is really good to help the new employee build relationships and develop contacts they can ask for help when needed rather than them floundering alone waiting for their busy boss to get back with them.

          1. Ms_Meercat*

            This is interesting. I can see a scenario where Drew could have done this without ethically compromising – let’s say at both jobs there weren’t that many meetings or urgent things that were time-dependent, where he could have been able to meet those at both jobs, and then work the evening / weekend to do the full 80 hours both jobs would have required. It is doable to do that for a week.
            However, how would he have had any way of knowing that it was possible to juggle time slots this way before starting? He must have been at least prepared to not handle this in an ethical way, if one or both of these jobs had an actual onboarding plan full-time for him.

            I mean, I can kind of also understand where this person is coming from. At my current and my last job, my employers have shown no type of loyalty whatsoever downwards, leaving colleagues that have busted their ass in hugely troubling situations on a dime and without any kind of empathy. I am very cynical these days about loyalty to a company etc…
            But again, it does show Drew was putting yourself first to the nth degree, in a way that can easily become (or already is) the type of self-centeredness that absolutely shows a lack of integrity with very negative consequences down the line. I would be wary having someone on my team like that, even if I don’t morally condemn them for looking out for themselves, just because it’s seems like quite an outrageous move and so outside the norm, that I think they would be willing to break other norms also out of pure self-centeredness.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              He didn’t necessarily have to be ready to be unethical about it — he might have been prepared instead to quit one or the other as soon as a conflict he couldn’t juggle showed up. That’s not ideal in that it’s quitting without notice, which it sounds like he did anyway… but that’s definitely a different order of magnitude from pretending he’s paying attention to someone who is paying him for that attention, when he really isn’t.

          2. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, it was honestly a little overwhelming, but I was also grateful that my new manager had been thoughtful about giving me things to do and helping me build relationships early. The job definitely is very cross-functional too, so she wasn’t just leaving me in the lurch.

          3. Filosofickle*

            That’s totally my experience. I have at times felt lucky if anyone even remembered I was starting! My brother spent the first week at his big-tech-co-job twiddling his thumbs because no one had secured a desk, phone, or computer.

        2. TardyTardis*

          That’s good, but I’ve spent lots of lonely time in cubicles without even a computer while in the middle of an internal transfer–fortunately, given a notepad and a pen, I can amuse myself, but onboarding is not always that coordinated.

      2. Cat Tree*

        It depends on the job, but Drew seems experienced enough to start contributing right away. I’m sure it varies by industry, but in my field there are only slow weeks at entry level.

        1. The Crown*

          Even very experienced people take several months to get up to speed at our company. They have to learn the systems, learn how we approach things here, learn guidelines, get a whole set of brokers to work with and try and build relationships. Never could just jump in elsewhere.

          1. LJay*

            At my company it takes your first day to get access to a computer usually and then more days to get access to all the specific software you need to fully do your job. (That’s an issue in and of itself and we’re doing better with it but still there’s definitely ramp up issues.)

    3. Former call centre worker*

      Years ago my mum was an IT contractor and her company didn’t appear to be doing well, hadn’t given her any work for weeks/months as they didn’t have enough customers, so she got another job. She did briefly consider not resigning from the first company and continuing to take a salary for doing nothing while working for her new company, but thought it would look quite bad on her if the first company did get some work for her and she wasn’t available to do it!

    4. Ali G*

      I think there was a letter a while ago where a guy accepted a position and it required relocation. He had “reasons” why his relocation kept getting pushed and it finally came out he never quit his other job and was doing both.
      I think we can empathize with Drew a little. Who wants to get stuck in a horrid job during a pandemic? I don’t think what he did is right, but we all know the stories of people getting sucked into horrible jobs. And it seems these two companies are similar, so maybe he wanted some concrete info about each one?
      IDK it’s hard for my to be indignant about this for some reason, even though I was ready to be when I read the headline.

      1. Weekend Please*

        It’s on par with a company hiring two people for the position and then firing one of them a couple weeks later. I think everyone can agree that would be a really crappy thing to do. He doesn’t owe them loyalty but he does owe them honesty.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          and I think part of this is that the other employer didn’t hire someone to hire Drew. So somebody likely lost an opportunity at a job, with a decent chance that the employer will start the entire process from Zero.

          So I can appreciate Drew wanting to pick the best workplace but there is a pandemic going on. A lot of people are unemployed and Drew is the equivalent of someone who is holding an early admissions spot at an Ivy but not sure if they will say yes, until they’ve gotten all of their acceptances.

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            If Drew left Co. X after only a week, it’s very likely other candidates who interviewed at the same time are still available. Esp. w the pandemic. It’s not as if taking the job took an opportunity away from other people forever. If Jane leaves her job after however long (or short), then Fergus will be hired to replace her..

          2. Caroline Bowman*

            But isn’t that what everyone does; wait to find the best situation for themselves before fully committing? Yes it’s selfish, but isn’t that how work is?

            I don’t like the deception involved, but two things stop me from really taking exception. The first is that Drew appears to have done all that was expected of him and to have caused no issues and the second is that it was for a very short time. He didn’t lie and obfuscate for months, while messing up at one or both companies, causing endless drama and work not being done. People don’t work out at jobs all the time and companies fire them immediately. Within a week, the other company could easily have gone back to other candidates. Not perfect, but workable. The company generally doesn’t give the worker too much thought beyond what’s legally required, and this is that in reverse; doing what suits Drew best.

    5. Quill*

      Unlikely, unless there’s a lot of downtime or onboarding for both organizations doesn’t actually take 40 hours…

    6. Momma Bear*

      This is actually not new. I think the issue is accountability. People routinely work 2 jobs, but generally not concurrently. I had a weekend/evening job and a FT office job for a while. If they have two jobs that are flexible and company policy permits, IMO they should be able to do it. the problem here was that the new hire was not honest and abused the WFH privilege. I would not trust him to work from home.

  1. Lacey*

    That’s wild. When I first start a job I work extra hard to prove myself. I can’t imagine trying to do that with two jobs at once!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Agree, starting one new job is stressful enough for me, I’d be lost with two!

      1. Bee*

        I was in my last job for eight years, and when I started a new one two years ago – doing exactly the same thing I was in the old job – I couldn’t BELIEVE how tired I was at the end of the day! The job itself was no more difficult or stressful, but just the process of getting acclimated and staying “on” with new people wore me out. After a couple of weeks I got back to normal, but I can’t imagine doing that for two jobs at once.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, once you reach a certain level in your career, there’s an expectation to start contributing early on. It sounds like Drew is experienced in his field so the training would mostly be about company-specific systems. I haven’t had a lazy first week since my first job out of college.

    3. Archaeopteryx*

      It sounds like a Flintstones-style “two dates at once” sitcom waiting to happen. Especially if the companies are similar – he’d be likely to mix up names and workflows from one to the other!

  2. Monty and Millie's Mom*

    I really want an update to this one, please! It just seems so….cocky? Risky, for sure! I’d really like to know what that employee was thinking, if all this is true, and then what the employer decided and how they came to the decision. I don’t know, this is just fascinating to me for some reason today!

    1. Abyssal*

      I’d love to hear what the OP does/doesn’t do to investigate, or to have the new hire’s manager investigate, and what they turn up.

    2. X-Man*

      So I could be totally wrong but to me this screams “Former retail worker’s first office job experience.” People do this a LOT in the retail world, which is obviously a different beast.

  3. BigTenProfessor*

    Depending on how similar the orgs are, there may also be an intellectual property or data confidentiality piece to consider.

    1. Gyratory Circus*

      That was my first thought, too. My industry is highly regulated, with lots of proprietary information, and working for a competitor or ancillary field there is strictly forbidden. Any outside employment has to be disclosed, even if it’s in a totally different field (ie a retail job after hours) has to be disclosed and approved or else you can be immediately fired.

    2. JSPA*

      Using organization rather than company makes me think this is a nonprofit / not-for-profit. Unless he’s pirating call lists, or figuring out and sharing the identities of anonymous donors (the non-anonymous ones being generally made public, anway), there’s just not a whole lot of proprietary information on the line. I suppose if he’s playing both sides of a quasi-political issue, that calculus changes, but OP would likely have indicated anything that problematic.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        If he worked with or had access to grant or contract information in a non-profit, that could potentially be proprietary too. I worked for a non-profit that had those funding sources and it would not be good if contract specifications or funding requirements were leaked to an organization that would compete for the same types of funding.
        Another potentially sticky situation would be if information on fundraising event plans (fundraising targets, sponsors etc.) made their way to a similar organization. Some of that info is public, but some would need to stay confidential.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Also, I’m all for sticking it to the capitalist system, but the move that Drew pulled could be really bad if he was working for non-profits. Sometimes grant or project funding is dependent on having a person hired for X job by X date. If that person then does a runner, it could potentially doom (or at least delay) a project, especially if the position is hard to hire.

      2. Max*

        Proprietary maybe not, but I’d be pretty concerned about access to PII. I’m not sure I think what Drew has done is the absolute worst thing ever, but given that it’s at least somewhat ethically dubious I admit I’d be concerned about what sort of donor data he might have access to.

  4. TX Librarian*

    I’ve worked in enough abusive workplaces to be 100% not mad at all at this person to figuring out which workplace is the safer bet, *so long as* there was not time/labor cheating or any significant damage to professional relationships *if* the job requires that with the other employer.

    1. DarthVelma*

      This. How many letters have we seen here about places that didn’t stick to promises they made during the hiring process once the person was on board. Or where there were ridiculous practices and policies the person didn’t know about until after they were hired.

      I almost don’t even care about whether they were 100% honest about their time either, given all the letters where people were told a company was all about work-life balance during the hiring process and then found out after they were hired that, no, really we expect you to work 80-100 hours a week.

      Hate the game, not the player. ;-)

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        This. How many letters have we seen here about places that didn’t stick to promises they made during the hiring process once the person was on board.

        As someone who did have a bait-and-switch job once, this is a great point! With mine, I was not sure about the poor benefits, lower-than-I-asked-for pay, the 20 mile commute and the downtown location (so traffic and limited parking), and my boss-to-be spent a fair amount of time on the phone with me arguing that the skills I would gain at that job were cutting-edge, and, if I still didn’t like the benefits and the commute later, I could take those skills and go anywhere I wanted. My first day at that job, turned out that instead of the 20-mile commute, it would be 65, and instead of doing the cutting-edge stuff in the downtown office, I’d be on the opposite side of the metro area supporting an obsolete app for my boss’s friend’s consulting company. No one said a word to me about it until my first day. They had me stand up in the staff meeting and said “This is our new employee (name). She does not know it, but she’s going to (far-out location).” They thought I wouldn’t be able to back out, joke’s on them, I was really marketable then, and had a new and better job three months later (where I worked for the next six years).

        I admit that I am warming up to Drew’s move (assuming it really was the same Drew – as someone else pointed out, it is all hearsay and could be a different Drew) as I am reading the comments.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            In the middle of winter in the US Northeast midwest, no less!

            On the bright side, when Far-Away suburb suddenly made national news a few months ago (on account of their twisted tea ;) ), I suddenly had bragging rights. “Hey, I know where that is. I worked there for three months!”

        1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

          “Ha, ha. We did it, guys. We got one!
          Congratulations, Wrote This. Here’s what you really signed up for…”
          So you stayed until you found a new job? Well done, you.
          Flawless execution. And way to stick the landing!

      1. Oh Snap*

        Same. Plus if he is salaried I’m not sure you can even argue that he misrepresented his hours worked.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I would not be shocked if this has already been done. Aren’t all new employees on probation?

        1. Colette*

          I’d argue it’s not OK with an employer hiring 2 people knowing they only plan to keep one – whether or not it’s been done before.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            In some industries it’s the norm, to a certain extent.
            Large management consulting firms take in a bunch of new associates every year knowing very well that not all will make it past the first year. But this is all in the open, and it’s not likely to be a 50% attrition rate. Being even hired by those firms usually looks fairly good on a resume.

        2. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

          Not exactly. At least not all the time.
          I had a job with a university in an admin role that had a 90 probation period. You either learned the job and made them confident in you or you were out. It was also explained that you could leave in that time with no hard feelings if it didn’t work for you. I worked there at different times, in different departments and everyone abided by the better spirit of this rule.
          I moved to a corporate job. There was no probation. Benefits and time off starting accruing first day. Want the job? Yes. Ok, here it is.
          There were monthly and quarterly check ins over the first year, but nothing called probation. If you left, it would be very weird. If you were let go, it would be very weird.

        3. Gumby*

          I have never once had a job where new employees had a probationary period. (I’ve worked for 4 different organizations – 2 internet companies, a private university, and a STEM R&D company.) To be fair, none had contracts either, being in the US, so it isn’t like they couldn’t have fired anyone at any time. I would be somewhat taken aback if I got a new job and they told me I was on probation at the start.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            In Europe it’s much more common. Here in France we get a 2 or 3-month trial period, depending on how high up you are in the company. During that period, employer or employee can say nope, it’s over, at any point and without having to give a reason. Once the trial period is up, however, you have to give notice, and the notice period is as long as the trial period for that role.
            If you get promoted, there’s no trial period, it’s only when you first arrive at the firm. This means in-house promotion is perhaps less common in Europe, with managers not wanting to risk taking on someone who hasn’t proved their capacity to do that job without being able to get rid of them.

      2. JimmyJab*

        No, but that isn’t the same. In at-will work scenarios the employer almost always has more power than the employee.

      3. Lance*

        The issue with this argument is, the employer is the one with intrinsically more power (by a good deal), so it turns into a false equivalency to try and compare them.

        1. Colette*

          I disagree. Yes, the employer has more power; that doesn’t mean that it’s OK for an employee to deliberately leave someone in the lurch.

          1. Anon for this*

            After my employer let their best employee go over covid related childcare issues without even trying to work something out, I dont care about anyone leaving any employer in the lurch.

            When I say best employee, she made every other employee better. And we work for a non-profit.

            1. Abyssal*

              Okay, so it’s cool to leave your company in the lurch then. That doesn’t mean all employers are evil.

              1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                The situation between employer and employee is inherently mercenary – One party receives X for Y, and the other receives Y for X.

                Good and Evil don’t enter into it.

              2. Specially-Machined Cog*

                “Leaving your company in the lurch” implies your company is an organism with thoughts and feelings that cares about other organisms in a human-brain type way.
                We all need to stop thinking about companies like that. That way lies giving them voting rights.
                If I’ve learned one thing in my working life, its this: Your company can, and will, leave you in the lurch without a single worry or regret, and they will do it on the slightest peep from shareholders or twitch in stock prices. Companies have made it clear that they owe employees nothing, therefore employees should conduct their careers in a similar fashion.

                1. Anon Entity*

                  Also, leaving a company “in the lurch” is in no way equivalent to leaving an employee without a job. When an employee loses their job, they lose their salary—i.e., the ability to eat and pay rent—and have to job search with the stigma of not having a job. When a company is left “in the lurch,” it means, what—their teapot redesign project has to be pushed back a few weeks? These things are not at all the same.

                2. Renata Ricotta*

                  Companies are run by people, and taking a job with the intent to quit within a week absolutely runs the risk of leaving human people in the lurch (the hiring manager who has to start over, coworkers who were probably relieved of covering the duties, all the people who did the admin work to get you set up in the systems/payroll, etc. whose work just went down the drain, etc.)

                  It’s true that companies often leave their employees in the lurch too, and the ramifications are harder to absorb as an individual. But those companies who do that suck, and develop a reputation for being unreliable, inconsiderate, and in some cases dishonest. And consequently, they have a harder time attracting and retaining good people.

                  So too, Drew “can” do the same thing to an employer, but the consequence is that if it gets out, he will (rightly, in my opinion) develop a reputation for being unreliable and dishonest. (I do think it is dishonest to accept a job offer with the specific intention of quitting almost immediately.) And other human beings who hire at other companies can fairly take that reputation into consideration and avoid the risk of hiring or keeping an employee like Drew.

                3. Too Millennial*


                  Thank you so much for writing this. It is exactly the basis upon which an opinion about this scenario should be formed.

              3. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                Resigning a job, even after a short time, doesn’t equal leaving them in the lurch unless you also say letting employee go is leaving them in the lurch without a paycheck, medical plan, etc. As we’ve read here numerous times, people leave jobs.

            2. PT*

              I had a boss once switch a parent to evenings (1-9 pm) and weekends (11-7) so she wouldn’t get to spend any time with her school-aged kid to force her out.

              I had another workplace demand the mom of two toddlers come into work on a Sunday, when she was not normally expected to be in and thus did not have childcare, with 45 minutes notice, and said it would be considered “job abandonment” if she didn’t show up. She would just need to find somewhere to put the babies, or be fired.

              Some bosses are asses.

          2. Malarkey01*

            “Leave someone in a lurch” is really subjective though and is often times used for an employee being resented for moving on. Yes, if someone is suppose to present to a client halfway across the country at 10 and you get a call at 9 that they never flew out there and are quitting today that’s a bit of a lurch. But, a new employee with less than 2 weeks in a job quitting just isn’t the same.

            1. Snuck*

              That depends.

              For an easily replaceable staff member… someone in an entry or low skill/training role… then sure… a fast turn around is not wildly ‘lurchable’.

              For a staff member that is highly skilled (technically, people management, professional trained job role like hygienist or nurse) then I’d say there’s higher expectations of notice and professional behaviour.

          3. JB*

            A company is not a ‘someone’.

            By this logic, employees are also letting ‘someone’ down every time they leave a job.

      4. Smithy*

        The power dynamics at play are why this is not the same. In the US, most employers are at-will making there always a severe power dynamic at play at all times.

        However, this kind of reality happens all the time regardless of this specific dynamic being in play. I worked for an organization struggling to find a ‘hard to fill’ role. Found someone, they started with the understanding they’d relocate from Texas to the East Coast a month or two in. While in town for their onboarding, they went on a few ‘real estate’ tours and then decided the realities of the salary, the job, and quality of life didn’t work for him. Quit after about a month and turns out during that time he was lining up another role that he could take while remaining in Texas.

        It may be that we don’t always get all the gritty details of the Drew situations, but it doesn’t mean versions don’t happen all the time.

        1. Cj*

          Well, yeah, if he knew relocating wouldn’t work for him, why wouldn’t he be lining up another role in Texas?

          1. AntsOnMyTable*

            I assume the thought is he clearly knew very quickly he didn’t want to stay and instead of giving them a heads up he strung them along until he found another job. While I don’t think people are obligated to tell a job they are looking to leave until they are ready it does seem if you just get hired and you know immediately you don’t want to relocate you should tell them.

            1. Smithy*

              I have no problem with what that guy did – it was just to give an example that while the LW’s example may feel unique, in practice for employers, versions of this happen all the time.

              While I don’t think this only affects the nonprofit world, I do think that nonprofits are particularly vulnerable to the realities of people being so-so judges of cost of living/quality of life adjustments. You’re making $50k in Dallas and are offered a job for $100k in DC. The COLA calculators will let you know that’s considered a solid raise, but it doesn’t tell you how you’re going feel in the spaces and neighborhoods you can afford, what the commute is like, where you’d be living in comparison to friends/family you might have in the area, etc. Add on top of that, how you feel in a job in those early weeks….

      5. JSPA*

        Yes, it’s gross. But over-hiring then culling people during extended probation is common enough (in some places and fields) that I don’t fault an employees who’s subject to that, doing the same in return.

      6. narwhal of a tale*

        This happened to me! I was hired to cover someone’s maternity leave and, on my first day, I learned they had hired a second person. The company was planning to promote a person in the department and pit the two temps against one another to backfill that role. Within a few days, it was made quite clear that the other person was The Chosen One. While I had more experience in Teapot Marketing Management, The Chose One had experience in Teapot Photography and the team valued Teapot Photography over Marketing Management.

        It was rough and utterly demotivating.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          They hired a single guy about my age to cover me on my maternity leave… and then kept the guy and told me I couldn’t come back. Granted, this was not in the US.

          I should’ve seen it coming when I stopped by the office *a week before my son was even born* and my boss introduced New Guy to me as my replacement.

      7. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        Isn’t there some rule out there? Like Rule 34, but for business? Let’s call it Rule 401notok, if you can think of it, Alison has a letter about it.
        I know I read about it, and they told the two new hires on their first day that they were competing for one job.

      8. Nephron*

        That comparison ignores the inherent power imbalance between employer and employee. There is a big difference between a person deciding not to work for a woman ever and a company never hiring women. I would not like the person that never wants to work for a female manager, but I would not support legislation that required people to accept jobs with female managers while I fully support legislation that requires employers to not discriminate based on gender and sex.

      9. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        This brings back memories of the only commission based job I ever had, where 4 people were hired each time there was an opening, and the person with the lowest sales was let go at the end of each week. After a month, the position was filled with the ‘best’ salesperson.

        So… yeah, employers totally do this. And some people are totally willing to put up with it.

        There’s also a bunch of employers who will (at least try to) string along their second choice candidates “oh, we’re almost ready to make a decision, we’ll let you know next week” for an extra week or more, in case negotiations with the first choice candidate fail, or they back out, or what not. Do you hold your company over the fire and claim they’re no longer trustworthy when they do that? Because I would be dollars to donuts they have at some time in the past.

      10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Another thought, isn’t it a common business practice for a company to terminate its lowest 10% of performers every year (supposedly with the intention of replacing them, otherwise this company would have to shut down after ten years)? I believe GE started this practice and then it was enthusiastically adopted by several more employers. Disclaimer, I’d never work for a place that has this. But it exists.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I think Oracle used to do this. I would never work in that environment — it encourages cutthroat behavior and undermines teams.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Exactly, I could not trust anyone in an environment like that.

            I’d be tempted to make sure that I have an emergency savings fund set up, then act supportive and uplifting towards my teammates just to stick it to the leadership. Rebellious positivity FTW.

          2. Snuck*


            It would encourage some very unsavoury behaviours, and under mines the less obvious benefits of having a diverse and multi skilled team. Many teams have someone who isn’t amazing, but is the quiet glue that holds everyone together. Lose that person and suddenly you just have circling sharks.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              And with our health insurance tied to our place of employment, even the most supportive person might be tempted. If the choice is between throwing your teammate to the wolves by pointing it out to the leadership that Teammate is a worse performer than you, and your child losing access to healthcare, well… It’s a tough choice that I’m thankful I’ll never have to face (now that my children are adults with the youngest coming off my insurance this year).

              The more I think about this practice, the more I hate it.

      11. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Yes to this comment! I was going to post something similar but didn’t have to go too far to find it.

        I am actually surprised (from an unemotional, ‘rational’ sort of viewpoint) that this isn’t more common.

      12. Caroline Bowman*

        If they took them on a fixed-term basis, yes.

        Companies fire new hires all the time, they have the vast majority of the power in almost all situations. Assuming Drew met his work expectations and did all he was asked, he basically obfuscated for 1 work week. Not ideal, but people quit or get fired early in employment all the time. No one loses sleep over it particularly.

    2. MissGirl*

      I guess I’ve worked at enough good companies and know so many people who need a job and would do it with integrity, I fall on the side of firing him. I may be getting more grumpy as I age.

    3. SillyLittlePittyPat!*

      I am not sure I am okay with an HR manager discussing employees, regardless of behavior, with someone from another company. Regardless if it is a spouse. Who brought up this person first? Spouse who mentioned name and HR mg’r recognized it? Alison?

      1. EPLawyer*

        Spouse at Company B told Spouse at Company a. Spouse Company A didn’t know what to do with the info so went to HR. Which sounds right. Who else was Spouse Company A going to go to? Their own manager? Unless they share a manager with Drew manager A can’t know what to do. Go to Drew’s manager? They may not feel comfortable doing that.

        Given the integrity issues, HR makes the most sense to raise this to. Then HR can decide what to do. Because this is waaaaaaaaay above Spouse Company A’s paygrade.

    4. Schwanli*

      Yeah, I might keep this as a data point on Drew’s character, but I’m glad to see an example of someone (hopefully) successfully hedging his bets till he knows he’s in the right job. Surely if he did this his current employer should simply be glad to know that he chose the job with his eyes open and will be more likely to stay in the position as a result?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        What would it be like if everyone did this though? It only works (if it does) because unlike Drew most people wouldn’t do this.

        Say on average half of job-seekers did what Drew did. On average 1 in 4 new hires (across all companies) would fall through after a couple of weeks on the job and they’d have to re-start the hiring process…

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          Good point. What would be interesting would be to know how many new hires get fired / leave for unforeseen reasons in their first fortnight due to the company. I bet it’s plenty.

          Companies very often have second or even third choice candidates for jobs. They also often get people to train their replacements before notifying them that they’re about to lose their job. None of this is illegal.

    5. Oryx*

      Years ago I walked into our break room at ExJob to find a brand new coworker on her cellphone. From what I picked up from her side of the convo, she was setting up an interview for a different job during her first week at our location. Which, having that convo in a break room where anyone can walk in is a bold move.

      I didn’t tell anyone (I don’t think, I can’t remember it was so long ago). But looking back I can totally understand why you’d still keep options open, even as a brand new employee when you’re not sure you’re going to really want to be there long term (and she wasn’t. She did eventually leave soon after starting).

    6. Green Snickers*

      I am curious as there was a letter earlier this week about a LW thinking her assistant was lying to her about being sick. A number of people reasoned that if the assistant was lying about being sick, who knows what other larger things she is lying about and you can’t trust her. Yet people are defending someone for lying about having 2 jobs (which is a huge deal!) and I’m wondering why this is OK but the assistant letter(which is arguably much less severe) isn’t?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Was he though? Did anyone ask him if he’s working two jobs and he said no?

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          I think there’s an implied “trust and confidence” though. In providing a full-time job for the employee there’s an expectation they give a full-time commitment in return rather than double dipping.

          I wonder if Drew had intended to keep both jobs indefinitely, either got busted by the other one or just didn’t like it, and then smoothed it over with the “hedging bets” reasoning?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            In providing a full-time job for the employee there’s an expectation they give a full-time commitment in return rather than double dipping.

            Hmmm, no i don’t think so, in general, not specifically meaning this guy. I’ve had coworkers who had side jobs. Most of my past jobs (professional white-collar) new hires had to sign a paper promising not to work *for a competitor* while being employed with Job. To me this says that it’s implied that you can work a second job if it does not interfere with your first. Tbh would be pretty terrible to expect a “full-time commitment”, what about going back to school in the evenings – also no?

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

              Where it gets difficult in the white-collar world is where you have a full-time job that on paper ends at 5pm or 6pm or whatever… but then there’s a deadline to meet so everyone needs to stick around to meet the deadline and it could go on until 10pm or later, except that ‘Charlie’ has another job they’ve been scheduled for on a 8pm-12am shift, so has to leave, leaving everyone else in the lurch, so that they can earn more money.

              For any job with a reasonable level of responsibility it’s expected that it could extend past the normal hours sometimes and unpredictably, and I’d think less of someone who left because they were about to earn more money for hours at their other job than their main one (“main” means something for a reason).

              Actually if someone was going back to school in the evening and it had any impact on the job (e.g. I was up until 2am writing an assignment) I’d come down on them yes.

              1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                There’s that word “lurch” again. Or it could have been single-parent Dave whose babysitter can’t stay long enough for Dave to stick around and help meet the deadline. Do you say Dave left his coworkers in the lurch? Or if Martha has to take a final exam in her night class that night. Is she leaving her coworkers in the lurch? Charlie isn’t a crappy employee for having an additional source of income. He may very well need every penny; he’s not necessarily a greedy monster.

              2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                This is such a slippery slope. The more detail you provide about it, the worse it sounds. This comment about us needing to be ready for our job to “extend past the normal hours sometimes and unpredictably” is coming pretty close to “how DARE you be asleep when I call you at two AM requesting emergency TPS reports”.

                This is also a weird amount of loyalty expected from people towards a job that has the right to terminate them at any moment with no explanation. Fortunately, no place I’ve ever worked had these expectations.

              3. LJay*

                If my job requires me to work until 10pm to meet a deadline then either the staffing levels are too low, the project was poorly scoped, the project manager is incompetent, or some combination of those things that are very much not my problem.

                Outside of very specific industries like software development, the expectation to work ridiculous hours like that is completely unreasonable and looking down at a person for not meeting them says more about you than it does about them.

                Extending past regular hours means that it goes to 6pm instead of 5pm on occasion. Or occasionally having to answer a call in the middle of the night sometimes. Not suddenly being expected to work essentially a double shift with no warning in a haphazard fashion.

      2. Roci*

        I agree. I honestly don’t care if people pull Ferris Bueller’s and lie about being sick to have the day off. But so many people were arguing the ethics-and-integrity point.
        Now we have an employee lying about having 2 jobs, possibly timecard fraud, all kinds of unprofessional conduct here, and suddenly ethics-and-integrity don’t matter because capitalism is bad?

        I’m pretty socialist myself but I don’t see why Drew gets a pass for “playing the game” but people lying about their time off, claiming others’ work as their own, lying on their resume, having someone write their cover letter, etc. don’t get a pass.
        Just because employees have less power than employers means they get a certain number of “get out of jail free” cards? What kind of healthy professional working environment will this lead to?

      3. Underemployed Erin*

        I am skeptical about this one because there have been so many pandemic stories about “an employee takes a full time job at Large Tech A and Large Tech B so they get two paychecks” during the pandemic. I think this plays to employer fears about people not working as hard when they are working from home. I think that in actuality most people would have meeting conflicts if they did take two full-time jobs unless they work at least one job that is unusually light in meetings.

      4. Underemployed Erin*

        I am skeptical about this one because there have been so many pandemic stories about “an employee takes a full time job at Large Tech A and Large Tech B so they get two paychecks” during the pandemic. I think this plays to employer fears about people not working as hard when they are working from home. I think that in actuality most people would have meeting conflicts if they did take two full-time jobs unless they work at least one job that is unusually light in meetings.

  5. Ana Gram*

    Years ago, my friend’s dad was a homicide detective in a big city and his wife wanted him to work for a smaller agency with less pressure, etc. So he got hired with a mid sized department as a property crimes detective but never quit his other job! He just took a couple weeks of leave, worked the other job to see if he liked it, found out he didn’t, and resigned after two weeks. Honestly…I admire the guy. He gave it a shot and didn’t leave himself stuck when it’s didn’t work out.

    As long as Drew was telling both companies he was working, say, 8 to 5 each day, I have no issue with this. It’s clever in a way.

    1. Admin 4 life*

      I have to say I’ve considered doing that myself with previous jobs. I would love a trial run and to not give up the comfortable position just to try something new for a couple of weeks.

    2. Colette*

      I don’t think that was great either. (If he’d liked the new job, was he going to quit without notice? Was he always planning to quit without notice after 2 weeks?) But it was better to take vacation and try it out than to try to work both of them at once.

      Assuming both jobs are full time and that he worked full time hours at both (which I doubt), one of his employers was getting his time after he’d already worked 75 hours that week. And that work was likely useless.

      And one of his coworkers likely spent time training him, which was a waste of their time.

        1. Colette*

          Sure, but most people don’t take a job with the intention of quitting after a week; he did (even though he presumably didn’t know which one he was going to quit.)

              1. Caliente*

                True, but it would certainly depend on the amount of time he’d been with the company.
                Do you have to work a year to be eligible for a week of severance?
                Also, don’t you have to be laid off, not “fired” to receive severance?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s up to the company. But decent companies do it, including for firings that weren’t the person’s “fault” (i.e., they were trying but couldn’t do the role).

      1. Ana Gram*

        No, if he liked the new job, he would have resigned his old job and used the remainder of his leave as his notice period. It’s fairly common in law enforcement to do that so you’re not taking new cases and racking up court dates you may not be able to appear for.

    3. hobbittoes*

      Oh man I worked with someone who did this to our organization. It SUCKED. I put a ton of time and effort into training him and getting him up to speed, and then he left right after he was done onboarding. He had also put off his start date for months, so I’d already been doing twice the work for three months, then the extra work of training the dude, and then, as soon as relief was in sight, he quit! It was another five months of me doing double work before we were able to hire someone else.

      1. Snuck*

        Eons ago … in my during uni days I worked for a Very Large Telco, where there was literally a month full time of training before working in the basic call centre. I remember someone doing three weeks of that… then quitting because she was starting another role she had lined up BEFORE starting the training. She just wanted the full time pay in between. At the time I was reflecting on our society (that had a limited but available social security safety net) and it’s forcing people into this behaviour, but was also appalled because this job she took and quit meant someone else didn’t get it and would mean that there was someone who missed out. (It was an entry level role, they recruited constantly but only put people on once a month for fresh batches of trained staff…. 20 or so at a time, for a role that had about 1,000 people in it.)

        Funnily/oddly/memorably… seven years later when I had well and truely moved on, and was brought in to mop up a “problem team” in a specialised entirely different work role, different call centre (on the other side of the country no less) who did I find working there as a temp? And who was really not working professionally and had wound up in the problem team? I managed her out…. but with notice and PIP and not in a malicious way. She had NO desire to act differently, not even with seven more years of maturity behind her. On the day I told her she was no longer required she stormed out, didn’t clear out her desk, and we had to get the agency to come and collect all her stuff. I was entirely unsurprised.

    4. Asenath*

      But he was on leave – not working two full-time jobs during the same period! I think if I found someone was doing that, I’d want to fire him. If I had someone who signed on full time permanent, and left a week or two in because they didn’t like it, the only problem I’d have is revisiting my hiring procedures to see if I could figure out how to keep only people who were likely to stay on the short list. Am I not providing enough information about the job? But I cannot really imagine a situation in which someone has promised two employers 40 hours per week, and both employers are not being shortchanged. Even if they actually work 80 hours per week, they aren’t getting the proper rest and they aren’t going to always be available when needed.

    5. Caroline Bowman*

      Good for him! He was not jeopardising his primary job at all, gave the other job a try using leave owed to him and made a decision based on trying it out.

  6. bottomless pit*

    When I started both of my last professional jobs I had a lot of down time in the first months as I was onboarded and projects trickled in. I took it upon myself to tour our sites, read documentation, browse through previous projects, etc but was probably only 5-10% busy with concrete work and up to 50% busy with busy work if I stretched it. So I could see being able to juggle two jobs *if I could do them from the same place!*

    It’s tough to start a new job, not know if you’ll mesh well with it or the culture and then feel stuck because you turned down other opportunities and they’re probably gone if you want to change in a month…I’m not so sure this was a terrible idea

    1. Smithy*

      This was my thought. Having started a new job during COVID, my experience was that a lot of more traditional onboarding activities haven’t really been adapted for remote onboarding. The mix of “HR needs you to do this”, “read this” and “here’s your first two weeks worth of get to know you meetings” just did not take 40 hours. To the point that my manager even told me that if I didn’t have 40 hours of work in my first few weeks, not to worry.

      In the past onboarding might include a lot more of shadowing people at meetings or calls which remotely was just far more obtrusive.

      While I would find this concerning, because of the pandemic specifically, I might be more inclined to be understanding. How workplaces are responding to COVID really does seem all over the place – and whether the worry was “does this nonprofit actually have the tech in place to support remote work” in addition to “are they taking COVID seriously”….I could see making a gamble under these circumstance while not normally.

      1. not owen wilson*

        seconding this. I graduated college last May, and when I started work I didn’t have any work to do for a full month until I was approved to work in person. Like, I wasn’t assigned a single thing for a solid four weeks. I couldn’t access my team’s files because I didn’t have a work laptop yet, my direct supervisor is generally pretty hands off, and my team lead was out on maternity leave. Plus, it’s pretty hard to work remotely just by the nature of the work (lab science). I would have definitely had time to pick up a second full time job and maybe even a team sport. Fortunately, seven months later they keep me very busy!

  7. learnedthehardway*

    This is third hand information, at this point, so I would take it with a grain of salt. I mean, sure, it’s possible that Drew did take and work 2 full time jobs (despite the logistical issues), but is coworker’s husband absolutely sure it was the same person? Esp. with people working from home these days, could it be there are 2 people named Drew LastName in your town? Is it certain the dates overlapped? Could Drew have been doing a part time or casual role with one company when he joined the other?

    I think the only fair thing is to get Drew’s perspective. Mind you – it should be his manager who speaks with Drew or his manager and HR, not other employees.

    1. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

      This. It could very well be two people with the same name. My two brothers and I have this issue with papers we’ve published. We all have the same first initial and last name (E. Tale), so people will try to quiz my brothers over papers either I or the other brother wrote. They’ve also been asked why their graduate school’s don’t line up with the papers because one went to University A and the other went to University B. They have to politely set them straight and occasionally have had to pull up the actual paper to show that no, they didn’t write that and they can’t give you more information on it. I don’t get that, but I also left the research side of academia for administration.

      1. starsaphire*

        Or similar names? I knew a pair of cousins named Sean and Shawn (pronounced the same) who were the same age, had the same last name, similar SSNs because same birthplace, etc. Drove the teachers batguano the entire time we were in school. (And they loathed each other and hated being mistaken for twins, sooo that was fun.)

    2. Khatul Madame*

      I agree that the information needs to be confirmed before any steps are taken by management and explanations demanded of Drew.
      If it turns out to be true, as in the other company HR confirms Drew’s employment with hire and termination dates – it manifests major integrity issues and wage theft.

      1. Roscoe*

        Its not necessarily wage theft if there aren’t set hours.

        If both jobs are “work on these things every day, and when its done, you are done” (as many things are, especially your first couple of weeks, I don’t know that i’d call it wage theft

      2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        Yep. Because if someone came to me demanding to know what I thought I was doing working for company B, because Sheila Smith worked for company B for a week, when I HADN’T? Well. Lets just say I wouldn’t be all that long at company A on my own accord.

        Even “seeing” Drew wouldn’t convince me. I have a friend who is a bit of a doppelganger (we are not related, yet our families even double-take over our similar appearance), and someone who knows me well at work was giving me crap for not answering him while he was at her workplace. I happened to have my hair up, and at some point, he saw the back of my neck and went “wait…where’d your tattoo go?”. I don’t have one. She does.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I agree. This is a game of telephone at this point, with multiple possible points of misinterpretation. I’d take it as a data point to consider if Drew had other issues, and I’d definitely ask him about it before making any decisions, but if his work is good at this point I’d be inclined to let it go.

    4. Construction Safety*

      Yeah, my thought process was that may he had two offers, the other job started first, he didn’t like it & #2 won the prize.
      Or, He did work for both, but with all the on-boarding, watching video, filling out forms and all working from home , maybe he did put in the requisite time with each company. Maybe.

    5. Em*

      Exactly. What if he was offered a job at the other company first, only to be offered a job at OP’s company second? He could have very well been completely honest with the other company management/HR and backed out *before* his start date. If he was unemployed or had already given notice at his old job, the start date could have been the same. Unless the coworker’s spouse is literally the HR person who handled his case or the hiring manager for the other company, there’s no way to know what actually happened.

      That’s not to say that if he really did try to work for both companies at once that that isn’t a problem. Just, don’t vilify this employee until you’ve spoken to them to get their side of things.

    6. KaciHall*

      I do background checks. The number of times I’ve had people with the same name AND date of birth is way more than zero. On a few occasions it has been the same first, middle, and last name.

      Two people sharing a name and an industry would not surprise me at all.

    7. Marillenbaum*

      Oh, this is a really good point. When I was an undergrad, there was another student with my same first and last name, and her underage drinking citation ended up in my student file (even though this is EXACTLY why we have student ID numbers!) It nearly cost me my merit scholarship, and I only found out because a scolding bit was added to my renewal letter. I wasn’t even on campus that term–it was my semester abroad–and I had to call Merit Aid and raise hell to get it fixed.

  8. Ashley*

    I mean it is possible for work 40 hours at one job and switch and do 40 hours for a second job the same week, but that requires a lot of schedule flexibility.

    I think Alison is spot on that the manager has to talk to Drew and how he responds really dictates the next move.

    1. Not 20 anymore*

      When I was in my mid twenties, I worked two 40/hr week jobs. On was scheduled 7-3 M-F, the other 4-12 W-Sun. I lasted at that schedule for about 5 months, but it is still quite possible. I even found time to go out with friends.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, in my early 20s I was in college for at least 30 hours a week, not counting homework, and worked 20 hours a week, and had plenty of time for going out with friends on the weekend. I didn’t show up at work on Saturday with a hangover, but sometimes I’d go to the first morning lecture after pulling an all-nighter studying. There’s no way I could do that now in my late 40s.

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      Totally agree. I was pronouncing it as lambayste in my head. Is that a procedure specifically for basting a lamb? Enquiring minds want to know!

  9. Yvette*

    Not condoning what he did, but who is to say he wasn’t putting in 40/hrs week at each job? Depending on what “core hours” were required, or if the other job was exceedingly flexible, he could have been putting in 11.5 hour days 7 days a week, or 16 hours a day. Which is why “…I’d just ask Drew point-blank about what I’d heard and see what he says. If the info isn’t true, he deserves the opportunity to clear his name. And if it is true, it’s reasonable to ask him to account for what was going on that first week, and what his thought process was.”

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      My job is work from home. I am expected to have my computer up an operational from Start Time to End Time and to be available during those hours. Its not unusual to get all the actual work done well before the end of the day. My direct supervisor is aware and I always check in to see if there is a project that I am needed to work on. Other than that I just have to occasionally move the mouse to keep the systems up and see in any emails trickled in. Leaving me free to wander the garden, read a novel, or knit. So I could see someone working a full job and possibly a side hustle at the same time. I’m not real sure about to full time gigs. And suddenly ending one is not a good look unless extenuating circumstances.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        You can buy a “mouse jiggler” for that :-)

        Seriously though, I do not believe anyone can be at their A game for 80 hours a week – at least not for long.
        Yes, I have had several 110-120 hour weeks in a row but those were actual emergencies, and it would definitely not have been sustainable for much longer. I was younger then but it really took its toll, physically and mentally – partly for sure *because* it was an emergency (as in, the company is at stake), not only from the insane hours.

    2. Ana Gram*

      True. I hired a woman once for a position that required 12 hour shifts and it was something we really emphasized during hiring. She kind of laughed and said she currently worked 16 hours M-F so this would be a nice change. We paid more than her 2 jobs combined and she thought it would be nice just to have one job. She’s a fantastic employee by the way.

  10. AskAnEmployee*

    Alison, good advice but I wish you’d correct managers who say things like “His role is an important one for our org, so we need someone stable in that position” when discussing an at-will employee who can be fired for any reason. An employee’s ability to have an income is ALWAYS more important to the employee than the employee’s job is to his organization, and that doesn’t stop those same employers from making employees fireable at-will, with no notice.

    In any event, if this guy gets his work done for you, who cares.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Good point – I was reading it yesterday about Jamie Dimon’s recent health scare and hospitalization – apparently, his company, JPMorgan Chase, had an emergency protocol in place that was honest-to-god named “Jamie got hit by a bus”; which they implemented when he was in surgery.

      If we as employees don’t know, as we start every work day, whether we’ll still be employed at the end of it, and plan accordingly to the best of our ability to do so, then so should an employer, because, well, buses do exist.

      1. Grapey*

        There’s a common management term called a “bus factor” that counts “how many people can get hit by a bus before the job can’t be done.”

        Apparently it’s one when you’re the CEO of the biggest bank in America.

      2. OyHiOh*

        This was literally part of my job description as a previous job.

        Role was complex. Different parts of the role had previously been done by 3 or 4 people; they wanted me to just do that one role. But none of the 3 or 4 people doing pieces of it previously had written down any of their knowledge of the role. So “create and maintain a Llama Wrangler gets hit by a bus” document (binder, actually) was around 50% of my work for the first three or four months I was there.

        And it was worth it, and more importantly worked as intended, when I had to quit on short notice.

      3. Not Australian*

        CJ in ‘The West Wing’ always had an ‘in case I get hit by a bus’ file which was constantly updated so that people would know what to do it she was suddenly not available for any reason. It’s always wise to have a contingency plan.

    2. Jean*

      THIS. If it’s so important and vital for this company to have someone “stable in that position,” then it’s on the company to make the pay and benefits commensurate with that sort of importance. If Drew were being compensated in line with this purported level of vital importance, he wouldn’t have been incentivized to play it like he (allegedly) did.

      1. Khatul Madame*

        It’s not just about pay, though. Drew (allegedly) wanted to see which company he liked better. As we see frequently on this site, there may be toxicity in the workplace that no $$$ can make up to.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        There’s no incentive that the company can offer that will remove the uncertainty of a new job, however. We have all heard stories of offer letter promises and seemingly amazing benefits/culture that did not pan out (eg, “flexible schedule” = “if you’re 5 minutes late, we won’t yell at you”). No matter what the company offers up front, anyone starting ANY job would be incentivized to compare 2 options, because there’s no way to get the experience of working at the job until you…actually work it. Honestly, if this were a widely accepted option of working for a few weeks in 2 different positions and then picking your favorite, who wouldn’t take it?
        I wouldn’t be surprised if Drew had actually been burnt by promises that weren’t kept in the past, and that’s why he’s choosing to do this.

      3. Decidedly Me*

        There is nothing in the OP indicating that it’s a money issue, but that it was instead about which he liked more. If it were a money issue and he needed to work two jobs to earn enough, he wouldn’t have quit one so quickly. If he wanted the job that paid better, he could have just accepted one offer.

      4. acmx*

        I would hope Drew received an offer that included his salary and benefits before he started working there.

    3. Wintermute*

      Exactly! thank you! I’m well and truly sick of employers that treat you as indispensable for their benefit, disposable for your benefit. If they’re that essential to your business– offer them a damned contract!

    4. Caliente*

      Yes and let’s not forget that’s usually probation as well. I had a friend who was fired on that not even at the end due to having to figure out some mental health support for her daughter which took about a week to get in place. No mercy. She went on to find position after that and was fine but like, an issue arose during probation and they didn’t give AF.
      It’s exceedingly difficult to have much sympathy for a company.
      And very frankly, as black people, it’s even more difficult.

  11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Piggybacking on the capitalism comment, isn’t it ironic that, for decades now, the corporate world has been drilling it into every new generation of employees that working insanely long hours is a virtue, 40 hr/week is nothing, 80/week is the norm to be expected in multiple places “if you want to succeed” and then a guy comes along who takes all that advice to heart and brings it up to the next level. Just saying that we as a society should’ve seen this coming.

    1. LaFramboise*

      Totally. Maybe Drew gamed the system, but the system has been asking for it. And how many Drews have done this and successfully flown under the radar? I am 100% not mad about this.

    2. 3DogNight*

      I was told of a company that told their managers “Promotions are not a reward for hard work”. And while I appreciate that you can promote everyone that works hard, and just create jobs for them, at the same time, don’t you want your promotions to go to people that work hard?

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Actually, I agree. Promotions shouldn’t be a reward for hard work. That’s what money and appreciation is for. Promotions should be a reward for GOOD work.

      2. Jean*

        Not necessarily. Companies promote people who they think are going to make the company more profitable. Hard work may or may not have anything to do with it.

      3. Colette*

        It depends. I’ve known some people who work really hard but don’t actually accomplish much (because they’re trying to do something that’s not their job, because they think they know what is needed but they don’t, etc.) Effort is not the same thing as results, and I’d argue that you want to promote those who get the results you need.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’d be far more comfortable with seeing promotions going to people who are doing good work *and* are suited well enough to the new position that they will continue doing good work there.

        OldJob had a team lead who was a really nice person, but… just not good at what she did. But really nice, and friends with the boss. And she worked ridiculous hours. I told myself that, if she’s ever my boss, I’d quit. As it turned out, I left for another job before she was promoted to manager. But she did get that promotion. For no reason other than she lived in the office.

    3. Girasol*

      That was my first thought. In an exempt job the company can ask for “as much time as it takes to get the job done” and then load enough work for two people and demand an employee work long hours. A lot of employers get upset over whatever may send an employee out the door after just 40 hours even if their work is done, whether that be another job or kids to pick up from daycare.

  12. Person from the Resume*

    If true that he was working both jobs during normal duty hours, it is certainly a juggling problem. OTOH so many organizations are unprepared to onboard and keep a new hire fully engaged it’s may not have been much of a juggling problem. I do wonder if he had to claim to either org that he was having some sort of connectivity problems to explain why he wasn’t able to take a meeting the first thing on the first day because I would think that on the morning of the first day, they would need to talk to you to get you started.

    I now work from home full time. I started with my org going into the office everyday. Even then I found myself bored with little to do during my first few weeks until I got assigned a project and then got fully engaged in the project. I can’t imagine how much harder that would be if the people I needed to talk to were only available at the other end of a phone line or an IM.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I can see how it would work if the work schedules were completely different — and if they were, I could also see a high-energy person (or a financially desperate person) trying to literally work two jobs and realizing after a couple of weeks that it was too much.

      1. Pyjamas*

        Exactly. I dunno. It’s hard to get tone from text but there’s something about OP listening to gossip that seems like they’re in a grey area of responsive HR and busybody

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      to explain why he wasn’t able to take a meeting the first thing on the first day

      I wondered about that at first also but then re-read it and OP stated that Drew started the two jobs “in the same week”.. and, tellingly, didn’t state that Drew started them on the same day! (which basically means Drew didn’t start them on the same day).

      So I infer that Drew started one job on (e.g.) the Monday and the other on the Wednesday… specifically to mitigate this possibility, I imagine. Drew did the first-day-stuff for Job 1 on the Monday, and then did it again for Job 2 on a later day.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        (Disclosure: I wondered about this because I wondered what I’d do in Drew’s position, given that there are generally so many commitments on the first day. And having thought about it, my answer to that in Drew’s position would be to postpone my starting date at the other job.)

  13. KHB*

    First of all, if your employee handbook doesn’t explicitly specify that this sort of thing is not okay, you need to fix that. Ours says something like “You may not accept any outside employment that might interfere with your job duties here without disclosing it to your supervisor.” It falls under our “conflict of interest” policy, and Drew’s actions would be a clear violation of that.

    If you do already have a rule like that in place (that was made clear to Drew before he started), then that’s certainly grounds for termination if you want it to be. If not, or if you choose to keep him on regardless, I’d say that at least a stern conversation is in order to say that his trust with you is on very thin ice.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I consider this sort of rule heavy handed for many jobs, but that was in the work from the office world where you could say what does it matter to the company what I do with my own time. As we get more virtual, this may become common and understandable as people like Drew may try to work 2 work from home jobs at once.

      1. KHB*

        In our case, I think the rule was mostly for media people who they worried might pick up freelance work for competitor organizations, or things like that. But you’re right that the universe of plausible concerns has grown vastly with the proliferation of WFH.

        But if it truly doesn’t matter to the company what you do on your own time, then you should have no problem asking permission beforehand, and the company should have no problem granting it. The “you must disclose to your supervisor” part is, I think, a reasonable guardrail against people pulling shenanigans like Drew’s and then trying to play dumb after the fact.

    2. Stella Dora*

      Same at my job…any outside work needs to be cleared by HR and working for a competitor or customer directly is considered an unacceptable conflict of interest. The policy is made clear both during the offer stage, and in the new-hire orientation materials/modules everyone has to read and sign-off on having read and understood.

      Just to be safe, when I got a part-time job running a weekend sports league with the city recreation department, I made sure HR was aware of it and didn’t consider it a conflict, which they didn’t.

  14. LDN Layabout*

    Honestly, considering the level of work you do in your first week of work, I can see this being fairly simple to accomplish.

    That’s not me saying what Drew did is in any way right, but I can’t be the only person who’s spent a lot of the first week reading everything I can find on the company intranet because equipment’s not ready or access hasn’t been granted or one of a thousand other reasons.

    I’d be curious if this is an entry level job or not, I’d find it hard to imagine anyone with a decent amount of work experience would do this…

  15. Heidi*

    I bet this happens more than we think. If there are no specific time constraints, like meetings and such, you could start really early in the day at Job 1 and get the first flurry of work out, then go to Job 2 for most of the day, then go back to Job 1 to close out. It would be a lot of hours, but if you got it all done and there wasn’t a conflict of interest, I bet you could keep it up for some time undetected. And sometimes people need more money than 1 job provides. It seems that the OP’s main objection is that Drew just dropped the other job. While I agree that there is something deceptive about giving 2 employers the impression that they were each his one and only, quitting a job after a week if you don’t like it is not wrong in and of itself.

    1. Colette*

      Quitting a job because it’s a bad fit is fine; taking 2 jobs with the intent of quitting one after a week is not. It’s a waste of time (because someone is onboarding the employee at a job they’re going to quit).

      By the same principle, it would be OK for an employer to hire 2 people and fire one after a week because they only need one person in the job.

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          It’s not exactly the same, but Drew’s tactic doesn’t become less dishonest just because companies do worse things sometimes. “It’s not as bad as [worse thing someone else does]” is not an ethical justification. Drew’s thing isn’t the crime of the century, but if true then it’s definitely shady and should at least warrant “on thin ice” status, even if not firing.

      1. Uhdrea*

        I don’t think those are comparable at all. The second job has to find a new person and sure, that’s annoying, but they presumably have a very recent pool of candidates they could go back. That is very different from misleading someone into quitting their job and then cutting them loose with no income during a pandemic.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Side note: employers sometimes do do things like that, and yes it sucks. Long ago I was hired into a high turnover job shortly after someone else. After three months they realized neither of us were quitting, and they didn’t really have the budget for two people. So last hired first fired.

      3. Pyjamas*

        But OP doesn’t know why Drew took both jobs, assuming OP’s info is correct, the “fact” is that Drew worked both jobs simultaneously and quit one. His motive for doing so is speculation

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yeah, “He Let An Employer Down” shocked pikachu dot jpeg is the least interesting part of what he did.

      He took a new job in the current situation, and we’ve heard a hundred stories of people’s new jobs suddenly disappearing – start on Monday, everyone’s laid off on Tuesday. I’m not going to look down on him for holding on to offers for as long as possible until he feels secure somewhere.

      Also, LW has no complaints about the quality or quantity of Drew’s work, and that he only worked double for a short period. It sounds like he’s sensible and capable.

      If the objection is that he resigned abruptly during his introductory period, well for all we know he gave normal notice but wasn’t required to work out that notice, and also any of your employees might do that any day anyway and although it’s annoying it should absolutely be covered by your business plan and any incidental costs are reasonable costs of doing business.

      His behaviour is startling, but not a red flag at all.

      1. KHB*

        Yeah, the “he let an employer down” part bothers me relatively little.

        Suppose that instead of starting both jobs at the same time, he’d started job A on February 1 and negotiated a start date at job B of February 15 – with the intention that on February 14, he’d either withdraw his acceptance of job B or quit job A with no notice. Either of those things would be frowned upon, but in an at-will work environment, he’s clearly within his rights to do them, and employers do the equivalent things all the time.

        Working two full-time jobs (ostensibly both during the same office hours) at the same time is, to me, another matter. The employer equivalent of that would be something like “We’ve hired two full-time people for one full-time job, and – surprise! – we’ll be splitting up the salary between you too.” Which is clearly illegal.

    3. Abyssal*

      I guess the question really becomes, what is the difference between doing this, versus having a day job and a side gig (or just multiple part-time jobs), which is entirely normal and ethical?

      There is a difference, of course. When you’re on the clock for Job 1, you should *only* be on the clock for Job 1. But if you’re salaried, or if you’re WFH where there isn’t a clear separation between ‘at work’ and ‘not at work,’ then what is the difference?

      1. never comments*

        It would be pretty unusual if Drew landed 2 jobs were Job A had hours 8-4pm and Job B had hours 4pm-12am. Then sure, that is one thing. I just recently went through a very long on boarding process, not because I’m entry level but because my job required a lot of different steps regarding clearance and access. I had weeks were there was very little to do besides self study and attending various virtual meetings. However I was being paid to be available during core hours. Being paid by another company for work during those core hours would have been a clear violation of the company handbook.

      2. Colette*

        If he’d talked to both job A and job B and said “I’m going to be working 2 jobs, so some days I’ll be doing this work in the evenings and some days I will be doing it during the day – my calendar will reflect when I’m available.” or if he’d accepted job B on the condition that he work it from 4 – midnight, there’d be no issue.

        But if you were hired for an office job and then found out on your first day that they wanted you to work from midnight – 8 am every day because someone else used your desk the rest of the time, you would feel like that wasn’t what you signed up for.

    1. Nia*

      Just so you know Scott Adams is a misogynist, white supremacist, and just a generally terrible human being. So you should stop recommending Dilbert.

  16. Jam Today*

    The older I get the more I feel like kids these days need to live by “take the money and run”.

    1) Do both jobs require 100% “presence” during specific business hours?
    2) Can work be done outside of standard business hours without any degradation of output? E.g. I work with a globally-distributed workforce. One of my teams works from 11pm – 9am my time, but its business hours their time. It presents some convenience issues but no big deal, its not required that they work on the same hours as us.
    3) If (1) is NO and (2) is YES, and he wants to work a 16 hour day — “take the money and run, kid.”

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      There’s another angle to be had here: even if he is able to juggle the work around into non-standard hours etc — is it ethical to double up on salary with 2 ‘full time’ jobs (rather than e.g. 2 part time jobs with different hours which I realise is very common) by double-counting the time… especially with so many people unemployed right now?

      The other issue is that by working a 16 hour day it is doubtless more tiring than working an 8 hour day especially on an ongoing basis. Whether that’s “degradation of output”… well, maybe not on any given day but it will accumulate quickly. Each employer then gets an employee who’s worn out according to having worked an 80 hour week, but only gets the benefit of 40 hours worth of work. (I guess your 11pm-9am team doesn’t also work another shift 10am-4pm or whatever.)

    2. Empress Matilda*

      100% this. Assuming there’s no conflict of interest, and neither company has a specific policy against taking other jobs, and he can still produce quality work – I don’t see the problem.

      Lots of people work 80 hours at one job, or at a combination of jobs – would you have the same concerns if he were working the additional 40 hours as an Uber driver or a camp counsellor? I mean, I work more than 80 hours between paid work and parenting, and nobody has ever expressed concern about my ability to do both of those jobs.

      I think both managers are right to be concerned about whether or not the situation is sustainable in the long run. But in practical terms, I don’t see how it’s any different from anything else he might choose to do outside of “office hours.”

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        would you have the same concerns if he were working the additional 40 hours as an Uber driver or a camp counsellor?

        I would, yes. Because I’d have someone working an 80 hour workload, and tired out from that, but only benefiting (as the employer) from 40 hours of work. I’d see that as a conflict of interest in itself. If one day they are just too tired to come in — will they take it from the company that offered paid sick time, and then do their other job on the side? etc.

        I mean, I work more than 80 hours between paid work and parenting, and nobody has ever expressed concern about my ability to do both of those jobs.

        What do you think they would/could say about parenting?
        “It’s come to light that you are spending an estimated 15 hours in excess of what’s budgeted for parenting, so we’re going to need to have you put up one of your children for adoption to rationalise the time back to baseline”?

        Rightly or wrongly time spent parenting is accepted as inalienable in the way that things like education, secondary jobs etc are not.

        1. allathian*

          I do think that if someone has the grit to study as well as work full time, some consideration should be given to that. It’s not unfair to other employees if Dave can’t stay late because he has a mandatory lecture to attend, or Jane needs to take an unpaid day off because it’s her final exam for a professional certificate. These are all things that would be negotiable with a decent employer. You aren’t apparently working for a decent employer if you think that it’s wrong for your employees to educate themselves and improve their career options if it impacts the employer in any way.

      2. Snuck*

        I would… but only if performance was lacking in my role. I would also be concerned if my employee trained at the gym competitively 40 hours a week, or spent 7 hours a night fishing off a jetty… and performed poorly. But I wouldn’t tackle the other job/hobby, I’d tackle the performance expectations in front of me.

        The exception for this is: We are in a pandemic, and if I had a staff member that was working with vulnerable people face to face I would ABSOLUTELY put the hold as best I could on Uber driving or a retail face to face role, or group ballroom dancing lessons and Zumba. Likewise if my employee was a medical professional – dentist etc.

  17. Cat Tree*

    Oh wow. I left one job after a year because a better opportunity came along, and a different job after 8 months because it was so toxic and I never felt guilt about that. There are even some hypotheticals where I would quit on the first day and not feel bad. But it feels really off to start a job with the *intention* of leaving in a week. I never feel like employees should owe loyalty to a job, but this case is just really extreme.

    But I’m more bothered by someone claiming to do two full time jobs at the same time. Employment is (or should be) a straightforward business transaction. They pay me to provide work. If I’m not actually doing the work I agreed to, that would feel really off.

    1. Clorinda*

      There’s nothing in the letter that says he WASN’T doing all the work, though. OP said he was performing well and they had no issues on their end.
      Drew doesn’t work for OP. Drew works for Drew.

      1. Cat Tree*

        It really isn’t possible to work 80 hours a week and be good at it. People will swear up and down that it’s possible, but it really isn’t. I remain unconvinced.

        1. Super Duper Anon*

          80 hours in the week in the long term? Totally agree with you. 80 hours a week at the start of a job where you are expected to be learning and making mistakes, totally possible. You can work a bad 80 hours for a couple of weeks when nobody expects you to be at peak performance yet and pass it off as learning the ropes.

        2. PersistentCat*

          Depends on the work you’re doing! People go to school FT and work FT as well. Just because it isn’t in your capabilities, doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I’ve been expected to work 80+ hours a week for literal years in 1 salaried role with no OT compensation. My performance did start to slide…after 6 months. I’ve also worked 80-110 hours a week for 2 different jobs, both earning OT, for a 6 month period. As you can imagine, I definitely preferred the latter scenario.

          Key point for my anecdotal response: It absolutely is possible to work these kinds of hours, and do it well, but the amount of time an individual is able to sustain it is unique to each person. Personally, I would prefer to limit the 60-80 hour weeks to 6 months, the 80-96 hour weeks to 2 months, and 96+ to under 3 weeks.

          1. allathian*

            People who are able to do this long term are the exception rather than the rule. They also probably don’t have any significant non-work interests or family they’re expected to spend time with. I suppose it’s doable for a married man who has a stay at home partner and no obligation to do any chores at home. Or a single person with a salary that’s high enough to pay for cleaning services and dining out every day. More power to you if you can tolerate that lifestyle, but it would kill me quickly. That said, the financial sector is notorious for long working hours, people dying on the job, failing marriages and burning out before 40.

          2. allathian*

            People who are able to do this long term are the exception rather than the rule. They also probably don’t have any significant non-work interests or family they’re expected to spend time with. I suppose it’s doable for a married man who has a stay at home partner and no obligation to do any chores at home. Or a single person with a salary that’s high enough to pay for cleaning services and dining out every day. More power to you if you can tolerate that lifestyle, but it would kill me quickly. That said, the financial sector is notorious for long working hours, people dying on the job, failing marriages and burning out before 40.

        3. Smithy*

          I assume this is very job/sector/onboarding specific – but in my field – my first two weeks are simply not 40 hours of true work. There’s an element of being “on call” to join a relevant meeting or call, and certainly there’s always ‘more to read’ – but it’s truly just not the same.

          When I started a new job in September, my boss specifically told me not to worry about working 40 hours but to take my time getting up to speed. And I also think a lot of that was related to how the organization was still getting together remote onboarding materials.

          If I started a second full-time job a week after I started my current job with the intention of deciding which to take after having been at one job for 3 weeks and the second for 2 weeks – I could see if being pretty doable without coming close to an 80 hour week and still doing “good work” on what was asked of me.

          1. Dan*

            Same here. My first three weeks at my current org were horrid in terms of getting productive work assigned to me. My immediate boss was like, “around here, we find our own work.” My response was something like, “I’m sure that’s fine when you’ve been around a bit and know people who have work. But since I’m new and don’t have any network here, I need a little help. Presumably, you hired me because you or the department manager knows there is work to be done and has the budget to support it, so let’s cut to the chase.”

            The white collar jobs where the first weeks are structured and have you productive right away have to be few and far between. It takes awhile to integrate into the team and find the groove.

            1. Cj*

              I’m a CPA who was already familiar with the tax and accounting software my current firm uses. I had accounting files tossed at me that hadn’t been touched in 9 months on my 2nd day. Thank goodness it wasn’t during tax season.

      2. EPLawyer*

        OP is HR not Drew’s manager. What she said was “she hasn’t heard anything.” That could mean anything from doing well to no problems that rise to the level of informing HR. That leaves a lot of in between.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          Yeah, I would be very surprised if the types of things that would come up from this would be brought to HR. If the manager just thinks he picking things up too slowly or something I don’t think that’s something they would make a formal complaint about. Checking in with the manager definitely should be the first step.

      3. AntsOnMyTable*

        He was onboarding so probably not much of an issue but when people talking about it being feasible to do 2 jobs – well if your working a second job at the exact same time delays something by even 5 minutes than that seems unethical. And I think it would be hard to find two jobs that wouldn’t have some affect on each other.

  18. Uhdrea*

    In my experience of starting jobs, it seems entirely plausible that during the first two weeks someone could be completing every task asked of them for two different jobs with no real noticeable lag in getting things done. I don’t think I’ve ever come into a position with 40 actual hours worth of work to do in the first couple weeks.

    Maybe I’m also jaded by the capitalist grind, but I just can’t fault someone at this point wanting to suss out the actual cultures of two different job offers.

      1. KHB*

        But accepting a full-time job – and drawing a full-time salary – means warranting to an employer that you’re available for as much of the 40-hour week as they need you (unless you’ve made specific arrangements otherwise, e.g., for paid time off). If you’re promising the same 40 hours to two different employers simultaneously, that’s dishonest.

        1. Jennifer*

          It should also mean that you are paid a living wage and that you get adequate healthcare for yourself and your family…but it doesn’t always. People are starting to rebel against the idea that we are supposed to put everything on the line for the employer, even if that means getting screwed in the end, and the employer can get away with whatever they want. As someone said below, take the money and run.

          1. Roci*

            I don’t know. Just because the system is broken doesn’t mean we should applaud people for behaving dishonorably.

            The way journalism and writing is supported and paid for online is fundamentally broken. But Alison doesn’t like it when people share ways to get around paywalls to access her writing. Aren’t people who figure it out hustling and saving their money just as much as Drew here?

            The other day there was a letter about writing people’s cover letters for them. Alison and others came down hard that it was dishonest, misrepresenting their skills, etc. But aren’t they just helping others game the system? Shouldn’t they “take the money and run”?

            I don’t care if the employer gets screwed over, but I think it’s hypocritical to give Drew a pass on this but not others.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              In case my position is not clear, I will emphasize this from my response:

              “My being less inclined to lambaste him isn’t the same thing as thinking it’s fine to do.”


              “his manager has the right to decide she can’t trust him because of it, with all that comes with that … including deciding that lack of trust is incompatible with keeping him in the job”

    1. Cat Tree*

      Are you comfortable sharing your industry? That seems like a dream to have a couple of easy weeks at the beginning. Maybe I need to change my career path.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Your account is not ready yet. We don’t have a computer to give you yet. It’s not fun to struggle with red tape and administrative stuff during your first weeks while you don’t have anyone to but your boss to ask for help.

        1. PT*

          We didn’t think to set up a desk for you. We haven’t actually finished your hire paperwork. You need access to six computer programs to do your job and you will need to be granted individual access to each one that requires a stack of forms and you to go to an offsite training that happens once a month before you can start using it. We haven’t given you a work phone. We’re going to require you to shadow someone doing something specialized we hired you for but with less experience than you before you start working, because we don’t trust that you have the background you say you do.

        2. Quill*

          Confirmed, I have never onboarded without spending the equivalent of a full day of my first two weeks waiting on things that were allegedly ready to go when I got there.

      2. Threeve*

        The first couple weeks of my current job were pretty much all one-on-one training…from people who had their own jobs to do, and limited time to train me. I had maybe 10 hours a week of real work.

        I actually found it pretty stressful, though; because time was so limited we rushed through a lot and basically never repeated anything, so I felt a lot of pressure to pick things up instantly.

  19. Jennifer*

    This is the third time I’ve heard of someone doing this since the pandemic. There are a lot of contract jobs available in billing/collections in my area and people are taking jobs from multiple agencies and working simultaneously to make as much money as they can. But they got caught because they weren’t present during meetings when their input was needed. On the one hand, I agree that workers have been getting screwed over by the powers that be for years so why not do what you need to to put some money away. But you have to be smarter about it. It sounds like he was doing both jobs well. He should have given the other company some notice instead of completely burning a bridge.

    1. Uhdrea*

      I think if you’re leaving a job after one week, there’s probably not a way to avoid burning that bridge and I can’t imagine there would be a ton of value to the second company in having someone brand new be around for two extra weeks when he unlikely even got close to being up to speed on the position.

      1. Jennifer*

        True. I think maybe there was a better way of handling it than just quitting, even if he had to smooth it over with a white lie.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        I can’t imagine there would be a ton of value to the second company in having someone brand new be around for two extra weeks when he unlikely even got close to being up to speed on the position

        For anything other than either a basic “no real onboarding required, just a couple of hours to explain the setup” type of job or one where the person is such a good fit that they can immediately hit the ground running — there’s not just “not a ton of value” but actually a negative ‘value’ to this, because the company has now invested two more weeks in the new employee which they don’t get any return from and they now need to invest the onboarding time again in the person’s replacement and are two weeks (at least) behind in having someone new in the position again.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      We don’t actually know what happened or who said what to whom. The OP used the phrase “left the other organization in the lurch” and there’s a lot of implication there but we’re now at 3rd hand? 4th hand? information.

  20. Teapot Librarian*

    I’d be worried that if Drew is sly enough (“sly” might be overstating it on the negative side, but “clever” sounds too positive) to work the system in this way, he’ll be sly enough to do other things while working for your organization. Maybe I’ve just been burned by slippery employees in the past.

    1. Bostonian*

      I agree. I’m actually surprised at how many people seem to be OK with this. He accepted a job with the intent of quitting after a week. That’s acting in bad faith. What else would he be deceptive about?

      1. Elbe*

        I, too, am really surprised by the comments here. A lot of people have had bad experiences with employers in the past and maybe they’re pleased that an employee is “winning” at the same game.

        But, in my experience, people who act in bad faith don’t do it because they’re carefully calculating social implications and power imbalances and deciding that it’s okay in this ONE particular instance. They’re not intending to stick it to The Man… they just don’t care about how their action affect other people, in general.

        1. Roci*

          Yes exactly. Yesterday a worker lying about why she was absent was met with “what else is she lying about.” Today it’s “go worker, you get that money, screw capitalism.” Which is it?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at by mentioning integrity issues — this is the guy you’re going to trust (while working from home no less)? I don’t think I would have confidence in him.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Yes! Assuming I could validate that it was definitely the same Drew (i.e. that the intel was good — OP stated that it is, so I’m assuming it’s been verified in some way) I’d consider firing Drew or at least having a stern conversation.

      One of the principles I go by is that how you behave in one situation is very likely to indicate a pattern of how your ethical ‘compass’ is calibrated in general… I struggle with this (am I correct or wrong?) in a lot of situations where I hear co-workers did something unethical or illegal-but-undetectable in an area unrelated to our work life but I wonder what it says about their attitude to ‘doing the right thing even if no one is watching’ (aka integrity) in general… I don’t mean stuff like recreational weed usage even though it’s technically illegal here as I have very liberal views about all those types of things, but more things like “I lied to the mortgage company to get them to lend us more money than they would otherwise”.

    4. Snuck*

      Yes. I have thoughts that are similar. I would expect that while Drew is ‘essential’ he’s also not necessarily going to be around long.

      If you go down the path of censoring him he might well take his valuable skills and head elsewhere, particularly if he feels insecure in the role. Is the role one that is really that hard to recruit for? Is it one where his work output is mission critical? Is it one where the other organisation would stand to benefit if Drew left you and they could re-hire him? How do you feel about his working for a competitor/customer while working for you? Does Drew appear trustworthy, charismatic, manipulative, cagey, professional, hard working? So many things to ponder!

      I would delicately, without any implied threats, raise the question with him on a video call (with another person present) and just do a check in about how his first few weeks are going, ask about his change in work output, his working conditions and hours, and THEN ask about the rumour…. and see how he reacts. Gives you a little chance to uncover all the things you can do to retain him/measure his satisfaction before you can then watch him for a reaction on the rumour.

      I would then take all this information and have a good long think about Drew, how much I trust him in whatever role he is in, whether he’s a good fit, and if he is… good. Now you have information to watch him with – not forever, but the initial free trust/loyalty is possibly burnt, so needs to be rebuilt. If he’s probably not going to work out over time… think about what that means for you now, and whenever he needs replacing.

      Some jobs you could juggle if you can juggle your work hours etc, but some still have proprietary information and skills that I would be unhappy to be paying for that then transfer to my competition.

      I wouldn’t fire him outright over this, unless it becomes obvious that he’s going to quit one day on you with no notice, after moonlighting for another company for a while on your time.

  21. Anonym*

    Alison, it may be worth adding that many organizations have policies that require employees to get outside employment cleared/approved. In my industry it’s focused on conflict of interest. If that’s the case, he would be in violation of the policy (presuming he didn’t get that other job approved) and might need to be terminated on that basis.

    1. Abyssal*

      That’s true too. This is something I 100% would not be able to do — especially if it was trying to work two jobs in the same sector. The minute they tried to file a U4 for me, I’d be busted.

  22. CatCat*

    I’ve had very few jobs where I had 40 hours worth of work in the first week. Even if so here, working an 80 hour week is entirely possible. Unless there’s timecard fraud here… not sure what more there is to do.

    Also, re: His role is an important one for our org, so we need someone stable in that position.

    So why not make this a stable role and offer a contract of employment? Then both employer and employee are assured of greater stability than at-will terms provide.

    1. ThatGirl*

      There really are not many contracted jobs in the US – nearly all full-time, “permanent” employment is at-will. But it doesn’t sound like this was a temp job or anything; Drew had no reason to believe he couldn’t stay in the role for the foreseeable future.

      1. CatCat*

        I know that employment contracts are not the norm in most industries. But they are an option and could alleviate the concern that the company has. Instead of just super hoping someone’s going to stick around, contract for them to stick around.

        1. ThatGirl*

          This particular scenario — if it actually was the same Drew — is so far out of the norm that I doubt it would drive a company is to make one specific position a contracted one, even if it is important.

          1. CatCat*

            Then it’s not *THAT* important ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            And Drew, whoever replaces Drew, can leave at the drop of a hat.

            “We want the role to be stable.” Good luck. There are no guarantees here. You get what you bargain for.

            1. Colette*

              Even without a contract, they can pay well, provide guidance, and generally make it a great place to work – and if they hire well, they will have stability in the role for at least a couple of years. But it sounds like they didn’t hire well this time – and a contract will not fix that.

            2. Oh Snap*

              In engineering contracts are unusual. A friend has one because he is in a really important niche and they needed stability, so they offered him a mutually beneficial contract.

              “Contracts aren’t typical” isn’t a good excuse.

              1. Uranus Wars*

                But in your friends case it seems the “specific, niche” part highlights CatCats point, and not contracts as a standard practice.

        2. Metadata minion*

          Honestly, contracts are unusual enough in the US outside of some very specific fields that I would be suddenly doing more research to figure out what was going on if an employer offered me one. And if I found out that no, nobody else at that company had a contract, it was just me, that would be deeply weird and probably have me turn down the job offer or at the very least have an actual lawyer look over the proposed contract to figure out where the catch was.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yes, this is kinda what I was getting at — it would seem very odd no matter how important the position was, especially if it wasn’t the norm at the company or in the industry.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      I feel like I’ve seen a lot of comments about “If you need someone stable, be a better company by doing X”…but I sort of think of this like the letter from the other day about hiring someone’s domestic partner.

      Sure, no employee is guaranteed to be stable – they could get hit by a bus, they could decide they just don’t feel like working anymore, etc. But if you know out of that gate that someone is planning to leave quickly, and you really need someone long-term in the role, why would you invite instability in knowingly?

  23. PersistentCat*

    Man, you don’t even know that Drew *was* moonlighting. I’ve worked multiple full time jobs; doing my 8 hours at job 1, a hour-long chore break, then the next 8 hours at the other. As both of those roles changed, it became 2 hours on Job 1 on project x, 1 hour on Job 2 for y ticket, 2 hours back to Job 1 on project x, 1 hour with Job 2 for z ticket, so on. Both roles were project based on billable hours, but Job 1 had strict core hours (which included an hour lunch, and was only a 5 hour window), while Job 2 was complete flex time, and my manager had no problem with my evening hours as long as all deadlines were met.

    Back to Drew: If the city job started earlier, or allowed flexing hours and later end times, or started later, etc., it’s not impossible that this guy started 2 FT jobs to feel them out. In this economy, the extra cash was probably appreciated, and if he has had experience with a toxic environment, then of course he wanted to put the jobs through a trial period! After all, companies get to do the same to employees.

    If you’re super concerned that the new hire was moonlighting, you can start by checking in with his manager: Was Drew as available as expected? Did he accomplish the expected tasks in a reasonable amount of time? If you get red flags for answers, take it as a sign that you should meet with Drew to do your own fact-finding. But really, let’s not just jump straight to moonlighting without reason, especially since you aren’t in the loop about what this alleged second job expected from Drew in terms of availability or working hours.

    1. boop the first*

      Right, if it turns out in the end that Drew’s biggest mistake is quitting a week in, well, that’s hardly anything at all. I’ve never done it and don’t ever plan to, but every job I’ve had always came with a warning that they were just “trying me out” for a couple of months and that they could dump me at any time until then. Companies have a long list of people to fill spaces, but people don’t have a long list of job offers to take up. Probation is meant to be a threat.

      1. misspiggy*

        That made me think – if Drew was on probation, could he have been let go with no notice? In which case no bridges should be burned by him leaving without notice.

      2. Claire*

        Companies do not have a long list of people in their back pocket that they can just whip out at a moment’s notice, I find it truly bizarre the number of comments on this thread that think this is the case. Clearly the people who think this have never been responsible for hiring someone.

  24. Super Duper Anon*

    I would talk to his manager, just to let her know you got this information, but honestly, of all of the things to care about, this wouldn’t be high on my list. Its possible to have two slow onboarding processes to get everything done for both jobs. I also think that if he did do it, he may run into consequences of his actions later. It could be hard to get a job at that other company again after leaving so quickly. Plus, other than big red flags or super obvious cultural things, it can take months for a person to really settle into their role and realize that they don’t like where they are. It took me months of getting used to how my company operated, then about a year of slowly making my job into what I wanted it to be before I felt content in where I am now. Also, a lot of the things that I found frustrating turned out to be on the radar of the leadership team and have mostly been addressed. So who knows if he ended up picking the right job after a few weeks?

  25. I'm just here for the cats*

    When I first read the title I thought maybe Drew had started a second job that works opposite hours. Like evenings and weekends. But, it sounds like something else entirely.
    Then of course I think of really odd situations. Drew’s twin stole his resume and started working at the other place. Sort of crazy things like that.
    One thing that crossed my mind, could Drew have been doing freelance work at the other place? Like maybe he thought he could freelance (with his own hours) and then work this place as well, and learned that he was burning out so quit the freelance?

    1. PersistentCat*

      The OP is making assumptions as to Drew’s working hours, and it is (per the letter) hearsay, as there is no identity confirmation. Could be freelance, could be flextime, could be actual moonlighting, could actually not be this Drew at all. Who knows :)

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Could not be Drew is a great point. If Drew has a very common name it could be a different person. And since it’s WFH the person at the other company might not have ever seen drew

  26. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

    I’m questioning how someone in their first week of employment can leave an organization in a lurch if they stop showing up. Never seen anyone onboard quickly enough that they’d be more than a body in a chair in that timeframe.

    Also – just reach out to your second choices and see if they’re still interested.

    1. Bostonian*

      Seriously? They’re left in the lurch because they have to start the hiring process all over again. What if there was no second or third choice? Or what if they already accepted other positions?

      1. Dan*

        There’s all kinds of reasons why someone doesn’t work out in the first week and the employment agreement needs to be severed.

        He could have bailed the day before he started with the same overall net effect, but gotten fewer sideways glances.

      2. NACSACJACK*

        Bostonian – Same on the other side of the coin. What if Drew turned down a job to take this one? And this company fired him within 90 days. Until the pandemic, any gap in employment was immediately suspect unless you were a millenial(Sorry, millenials – we know you had a hard time finding jobs). Thanks to Allison, I can now drop a job I worked for six weeks back 20+ years ago, but if anyone looked at my old resume with the suggestion Allison has made, they’d see a 3 month gap and assume I was fired from my prior job. I wasn’t. I was hired by a manager who quit when he didnt get the CIO job and fired by the newly hired CIO when he learned of my lack of expertise that the first manager knew about when he hired me. (Still burned about that – just moved to a new apartment with a 1 year lease, with a my long distance boyfriend moving from his state to my state, with no job – Thanks ex-manager and new CIO!)

      3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Chances are good that someone in your group of strong candidates is still available.

        And if you do have to start all over again – so what? You could have been in the same situation if negotiations had failed after going on for a week, or if he got hit by a bus, or in a hundred thousand other scenarios. Heck, he could have shown up to work the first day drunk/stoned/wearing nothing but a rubber chicken.

        Calling any of those situations being left in a lurch is ridiculously melodramatic – you just made a hiring decision that didn’t work out. It happens all the time.

    2. Colette*

      I agree that an employee isn’t terribly useful their first week in most jobs – but even if they can still hire their second choice, they are going to lose 2 – 3 weeks of having the job empty before their second choice can start and get up to speed. (Even if the second choice is available immediately, there is still making the offer/getting it accepted/doing whatever is required to get a computer & account – this takes time, and that assumes that there’s no background or security check required.) And in some companies, there might be a hiring freeze or something else that meant that they couldn’t hire again anyway.

      If day 1 (or day 7) he’d had to resign due to health or family issues, yeah, stuff happens. But it sounds like he deliberately decided to take 2 jobs, work them for a week, and then quit one – and that’s really, really self-centered.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Lots of possibilities, e.g.:
      If there’s an urgent or time-sensitive need to have someone in place in the position and get “on-boarded” as soon as possible.
      If they’ve been introduced in advance to partner orgs / clients as the new person who will be responsible for their account etc.
      If they are slated to take over from someone else who is leaving in a defined time frame so there’s only a limited amount of time in which to do the handover. Now the replacement has no overlap (and no meaningful handover from the first person) with the person leaving.

  27. Cafe au Lait*

    I appreciate Drew and yet I’d probably hate working with him. Thinking back to guys I know who’d do this sort of stunt, they’re the types to let others handle project details while jumping in towards the end, taking credit. Or jump ship on a boring project to gain visibility working on a cool, sexy project.

    OP if you decide to keep Drew, make sure his manager checks in with his teammates about Drew’s team effort. That he’s contributing fully, and not jumping in and out as it suits him.

  28. CRM*

    A lot of people here are team Drew, and I feel conflicted. On one hand, he found a way to play a game that is often stacked against us employees. On the other hand, he took away an opportunity from someone who might have needed that job, just so that he could take a job that he was only 50/50 planning to stay in. Think about how many other candidates they had for that role- it’s possible that some of them have been unemployed in this terrible job market for months! And sure, the company can contact one of them and ask them if they are still interested, but how much time has it been since Drew accepted the offer? A month or longer? All that time could have been spent developing and paying someone who wanted and needed that opportunity. It’s one thing if you start and then realize the job isn’t for you, it’s another thing if you go into it with the intention that you will likely leave after a few weeks. It just feels weird to me.

    1. Bostonian*

      It’s one thing if you start and then realize the job isn’t for you, it’s another thing if you go into it with the intention that you will likely leave after a few weeks.

      This is where I come down. And it’s not even *likely*, it’s *certain* that he would leave one of the jobs. I find that shady for all the reasons you listed and more.

    2. Dan*

      That’s what the “we’ll keep your resume on file and call you back if anything in your skill set opens up” line is for.

      Within the first month or so, the “screened” candidates that got rejected are still likely good leads, so I don’t think the process has to be started all over again.

      When I was last on the job hunt, I was getting follow up calls to applications weeks (and even months) after starting new job. I entertained a few of them, as there’s no rule that says you have to work a job for X period of time before quitting. And in my case, it was kind of obvious my boss was pressured into hiring me, so I think he would have been happy if I left.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        the “we’ll keep your resume on file and call you back if anything in your skill set opens up” line

        This is characterised as a “line” for good reason… it’s an easy way to let people down lightly without any loss of face on either side. There’s no real expectation for the person being ‘kept on file’ of ever actually being called back, and as such, on receiving that type of response they’d move on to other opportunities / pursuit of opportunities. I don’t think people upon receiving a response like that are thinking “great! I’ll just sit here and wait.”

    3. Rach*

      Yeah, I’m not concerned about the other employer, they chose their new hire poorly. That happens often enough even if this scenario is more unique and the costs associated are the costs of doing business. My concern is Drew essentially took weeks of pay from another person during a pandemic.

    4. Nessun*

      Yeah, that was what struck me – if I worked my ass off in an interview process and found out Drew won, fair enough, but then to find that Drew won AND got the other job I was in the running for? Where the heck am I working? Yes, expectation is that people are interviewing elsewhere, and there’s always the chance that when Drew leaves they’ll call me as second choice, but still…I’d be pissed off (at Drew, and at the process that allowed him to game the system like this). Everyone’s saying yeah Drew game the system if you can – but when someone games the system like that, someone else loses out.

      (And I realize that the underlying problem is that people aren’t paid enough, which leads to them needing to game the system in the first place, but still.)

  29. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

    For me it seems suspect that an employee at your company has a husband who knew his wife’s (your co-workers) new co-workers name and then matched it up to someone at his company that worked for 2 weeks, and got information from other people about why the employee took two jobs at the same time. Then with all this information the wife then contacted the HR manager to turn in the employee because they didn’t know what to do.

    In my opinion you have at least third hand information at best, if you have not had any complaints about the employee then let this go. Whether this is true or not once this gets out (and it will if it hasn’t already) you and your PI in training co-worker are going to be branded by this and not in a good light.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree that it’s third-hand information and that OP shouldn’t act without doing some further digging, but if the co-worker’s husband works in the same industry, I can imagine they could easily have a conversation where OP’s co-worker mentions ‘Drew, the new guy at work’ and the husband says ‘Drew? That’s funny – we’ve just hired a guy called Drew as well, what are the chances’ – or the other way round, the husband says ‘You’ll never guess what happened – we had a new hire start two weeks ago, Drew, and he’s already left! Quit without notice!’ and then the co-worker says ‘No way! We have a new guy called Drew as well – he must have started around the same time as your Drew, how odd’.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think this is where I fall too. If the information is inaccurate and they ask Drew directly, he could be offended and quit anyway. I would question if a company was a good fit if they accused me of something like that with no proof.

      Though I do think OP has an easy solution available as HR. Call the other company’s HR and do a reference check to verify employment dates.

      1. Abyssal*

        Asking isn’t the same as accusing.

        “Hey, someone told us you might have done this. Do you have any idea what they’re talking about? Can you shed some light on this situation?” is inherently different from “We think you did this and are taking action accordingly.”


      This was my thought as well. What advantage is it to the co-worker to suggest that Drew was less than honest? Why would her husband be mentioning a new employee to her? Do they work in the same industry? If so, first off, why is the husband sharing company information with your employee and how much company information is she sharing with him? They are comparing notes on employees. Second, do we know if Drew is a contractor or full-time employee at either place? Is he allowed to work at both places at once? Is he working nights one place and days at the other place? Or is he blurring the lines (Integrity issues)?

    4. not a mary*

      Yeah, I’m really confused at how this all happened and how they even decided it was the same person to begin with.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      That occurred to me too at first, but then I thought that Occam’s razor suggests they mentioned it to HR after having considered the possibility that it was mistaken identity, that they had got the wrong end of the stick and it was actually a freelance contract, or similar. The person supplying the info is considered a credible source (otherwise there would have been a different question / no question as OP would have dismissed it or followed it up internally as it may be), so, what’s their motivation? It doesn’t seem like the info-supplier would be gaining anything so I can only assume it’s a legit “fyi for HR” concern. There’s also gotta be a reason they approached HR rather than the immediate manager.

      Given the information OP provided and the fact that OP has corroborated it independently (presumed, but saying she has reason to think the intel is good which must be based on something other than “Jane said so”, I guess it would just be too identifying to go into detail of how she knows) I believe it to be genuine.

      I don’t think it’s fair to characterise the co-worker as “PI-in-training”. They had info highly relevant to the company about ethical concerns and they escalated it, rightly IMO.

    6. Snuck*

      It might also just be a small enough niche role and industry… or the two companies that work together….

      I have noticed in the past resumes a little more closely when they’ve come from a place that I compete with for good staff, or if they have people I know on them. My ears would totally perk up if an employee of mine was mentioned – past present or future.

      The OP mentions this is an important role to the company and needs stability – I wonder if it’s something like social media / marketing role where fluid hours and mass availability is a possibility… or if it’s something like a data base administrator and competent professional ongoing skills are needed…. or if it’s a accounting/payroll role where again flexible hours are probably ok but there would be issues on high pressure calendar days. That needs to be taken into account. All of these sorts of roles can have major flare ups (Y2K anyone LOL? ) so working the same type of role at two similar businesses could be problematic (just as working as a PCA at two different nursing homes has proved disasterous in Australia), but it is also possible as others point out that the role could be split across a 16 hour working day for two different companies. I would take umbrage if it was a business efficiency, business improvement/analysis or straight marketing role – where the blurring of knowledge from the two companies could lead to confidentiality issues.

  30. Veryanon*

    Unfortunately this is way more common than people think. I investigated a case about a year ago involving an employee who was also working (during his scheduled work time with my company) as the building manager for the apartment building where he lived. I believe he got free rent in return for doing this. The building management work was part time, but he was using my company’s computer and phone to conduct this business and, of course, committing time fraud by claiming he was working hours that he wasn’t actually working for our company. Yes, we ended up terminating him.

    1. Dan*

      Time card fraud is always an insta-fire offence.

      That said… in a prior life, I worked blue collar non-exempt jobs where you paid by the hour to show up. It was not possible to literally work two jobs at the same exact time, but several coworkers I had worked two or three hourly jobs and it wasn’t a secret. It’s what happens when you live in HCOL areas and get paid $10-$15/hr.

      At one job, I was going to school during the day and working midnights. I did homework and took naps on the clock and the boss was cool with it.

      My favorite 2-4-1 story was a dude who had a tech job in SF or something like that and got paid a huge salary… and then personally subcontracted the work to someone in China for like half the price an pocketed the difference.

      1. Zudz*

        I remember that story. The dude was just browsing memes all day. They only caught him because the corporate security policy got updated, and all of a sudden his token was logging in from Shanghai.

        I remember saying to someone “If his title had been programmer manager, or project coordinator, or something, he’d have got a raise for doing such a great job so cheaply. Instead it was programmer, so he got fired.”

      2. WS*

        Yeah, I grew up in a town that had several state-owned mines and power stations providing steady employment for three generations. When I was 18, they were all suddenly sold off and 70% of the workforce was made casual – if there was work they’d get hired for a few hours or a few weeks, and if there wasn’t, no work and no pay for you. And if you weren’t available at the drop of a hat, you’d go to the bottom of the list. So everyone was working at least 2, sometimes 3 assorted jobs, and if they got called in to the mine or the power station they’d get a friend in the same situation to cover their other jobs. It pretty much wrecked the town, almost everyone my age left because there were no more training positions, and the population shrunk by 4000 people over the next decade.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      I had a former colleague who was using work hours to deal with tenant issues with the building his family owned; it was more than a rare phone call but semi-frequent and involved calls. He was let go very near the end of his probation period. I can’t imagine why it took them that long except perhaps they were hoping he’d turn it around. Among other issues he was very inappropriate in the types of training and roles he tried to take on, probably assuming he’d be seen as a go-getter, when it was more that he was trying to do things that he was wholly unqualified for. He was supposed to be working more at a tech level and was taking the physician training modules, which didn’t do anything to show he had competency for the role he was supposed to do (and due to the nature of the training, said nothing about his actual intelligence/capabilities).

  31. Salad Daisy*

    A few years ago, in the Before Time, we hired someone based on the recommendation of an employee on our team. Sadly to say, we did not check references. The new hire was not working out, saying he had to work from home due to all sorts of emergencies but not showing any productivity, etc. One day, while working in the office (for a change) a co-worker walked over to his cubicle and noticed he was logged in to his “former” employer’s website and was actually working for them. While sitting in our office presumably working for us! He was terminated shortly thereafter. I think this sort of thing happens more than people realize and the opportunity is even greater now that everyone is working from home.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I’m curious if / I hope you had a conversation with the person who recommended them? (Or were at least quite attentive to what that person was up to afterwards?)

  32. Dr. Rebecca*

    Honestly…if he did both jobs satisfactorily enough that you didn’t notice until it was brought to your attention, well…

    I guess I would non-accusatorily ask him about it, and if confirmed, tell him not to do it again. But also contemplate your workflow, in that someone can work a whole other job while working the position in your company.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s worth noting the OP is the HR manager, not Drew’s manager, and easily might not know at this point if the manager had concerns about Drew’s work.

    2. WellRed*

      I doubt he was doing anything too high level in his first week. Probably filling out paperwork, etc.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Workflow usually isn’t a thing your first week on the job…
      I didn’t even get my computer until day 4 of this job and even then only half my programs worked

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Unless it was an insta-hit-the-ground-running type of job (either because there is little experience/training required or because they were already equipped to ramp up immediately) the first few weeks in a job aren’t generally representative of the typical workload, and this is more true the more ‘senior’ you are.

      For example I’m an individual contributor but at the highest level of IC (there are people who manage others who are “lower” on the org chart, which I use in quite large quote marks as I don’t like a hierarchical view that much) and when I started at my current role, my tasks for the first couple of weeks were 1) to do the needed paperwork etc but then 2) to review all the architecture diagrams, current strategy, talk to the relevant people to understand how their area of work fits in with mine, start to look at the code base and understand how the structure of the stuff in source control fits to the actual projects that are going on right now in the company, understand the specific projects by reading their documentation and scheduling meetings with relevant people (such as Product Owners and Business Analysts) to get a “what I need to know as context” view of things. In the process I picked up on some technologies used in the company which I needed to gain more familiarity with so I needed to go off and research that kind of thing.

      It’s hard to quantify how long those type of things take. I could easily spend 40 hours (or much more) per week going into this type of ‘research’ even if I’m not actively tasked with specific things to take up my time. Could I spend 20 or 10 hours a week instead on this? Sure, because it’s pretty nebulous and it would be easy to say I spent 30 hours (for example) researching technology X when I actually spent 10 hours and then put the 20 hours into my other job (if I were Drew).

      1. Snuck*

        But then you’d be lying about how you spent your time…
        And if your supervisor is worth their salt they’d be questioning their hiring of you because if you say it takes you three times as long to do something as you say then are you not competent?

        I understand to some extent what you are saying – it’s a very tech role specific response – and coming in to a new role you will always have something you need to read up and tech up on, particularly if you are working with system architecture. However if I was interviewing you and you said you’d worked on X and Y program, I’d have asked the references about that, and have a good idea of your knowledge before I offered you a job. Then when you fluff about in the first week… I’d be all “hrm…… can you tell me what you found and what your opinions on our tech/architecture is and if there’s anything you’d like to suggest?” And see how you respond. While the first week or two are fluffing about, they are also a chance to see how a staff member fills their down time. If it’s full of smoke breaks and moonlighting then I’d take that valuable knowledge with me forward. I’m not saying staff are nose to the grindstone for every billable second (oh hell no! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in places with bean bags and katamari on the xbox in the middle of the floor of hundreds of programmers and system architects!), but you need to know how they … work. You know? There’s midnight and Sunday releases looming, there’s system outages to ponder and there’s urgency and delays in working life, so just how does this person handle… all sorts of things?

        But not everyone hires this way. I’d keep Drew, but watch him, to see where he fits in the wider team. And I’d ask him about this. And if the role is mission critical I’d make sure I have a contingency.

    5. MCMonkeybean*

      I think it’s often expected that a brand new employee doesn’t get much done during the first month on the job as there’s so much to set up when you start and then a lot of time learning processes.

  33. Roscoe*

    This will probably be unpopular, but for me its one of those things where I just think “who cares”.

    Was it shady? Sure. But I’ve heard of so many more shady things that companies do that this doesn’t bother me. Assuming that he got all his work done for you guys, this just kind of seems like the gossip mill. Nothing he did here affects you or your company, from what I can gather. Its just something you don’t like that he did in his own time. If you found out he started at another company for a week, then quit for your company, would that be different?

    Again, all of this assumes he has been good in the role so far.

    But, as I say, I don’t expect everyone to agree here. People are a lot more bothered by peoples outside of work activities than I am

    1. Paris Geller*

      I’m joining you in team unpopular opinion! Like, is this weird? Yeah. Shady? Yeah. But unless there’s clear-cut time card fraud or something, it’s just not something I can bring myself to care too much about. If the OP’s information is correct, he did this shady thing. If he’s shady in general, that will come out soon enough. If this was a move brought by desperation and a global pandemic, well, now he has the chance to work for one company and NOT be so shady.

    2. Tamer of Dragonflies*

      I’m with you too…How many letters have we seen where an employer pulled a bait and switch, wanted more than 40 hours worked without more pay because the job is salaried, or lays off people only to lay that work on others desks? Sounds like this guy has been burned before and figured if he is going to work the hours, might as well work for 2 companies, figure out which one has the least B.S., and get paid for it to boot. If he did both jobs to suit each manager, there’s no problem with working them indefinitely. The people he is working for that don’t like it are just butthurt because they can’t claim “all” his time above 40 hours.

  34. nunyabusiness*

    But but, we were told all workers are honest angels and no one takes advantage of teleworking…

    1. Chilipepper*

      And then there was the guy who outsourced his job to someone in India, came to work every day, and did other things.

  35. GigglyPuff*

    Mostly I have logistically questions, like did he fill out all the onboarding paperwork with HR? You usually can’t sit on that stuff for too long, which meant he probably signed up for two insurance plans since he didn’t know which job he wanted. I wonder how long he actually stayed, and whether he used either insurance. (I use my insurance a lot for chronic stuff so that was where my mind went first.)

    Pretty neutral either way. Sucks to do all that interview and paperwork, but I guess that’s just the nature of at-will employment. And if he wasn’t using the other company’s time to do work for company #2, doesn’t seem that big of a deal.

    1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      Depending on the specific companies he was working for, insurance may not have come into play yet, since he’s only been there for 2 weeks. I’ve never had a job where my insurance started Day 1. My current job, I started mid-July and didn’t get any insurance paperwork til the end of August, with an effective date of Sept 1st.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Mine have always been the 1st of the month, so if you started on the 1st you’re covered from that point. If you start after the first, you’re covered starting the first of the next month. And there’s been some people on here say before they were covered from the first day. Was just curious how the benefits came into play since I’ve always had to fill that stuff out within a few days.

  36. Old Cynic*

    When I was in my 20s, I once took a week of vacation to start a new job and try it out. It turned out to be a smart move because at lunchtime on the very first day I told them it wasn’t going to work out and left. It was a crazy, messed up small family company that defined dysfunction.

    1. Dan*

      Yeah… and then there’s always the “I have offer from so-so company on the table which I will take because it pays the bills, but I’m in the late stages in the process for Better Company Y, which is the offer I really want.” Convention or not, I would not fault someone in the least for taking the first job and leaving ASAP if the next one comes through. Sure, it burns a bridge. But in my field, there are the good companies, and the fly-by-night ones, and everybody knows who is who. I’d burn a bridge at a fly-by-night in a New York minute if it was to my benefit.

      1. Not Australian*

        This actually happened to my OH in his first job out of school. He accepted a job and started it, but then another one that he was more enthusiastic about came through and he went to his employers and asked them to release him – which they did. Admittedly this was a long time ago and the job market was different then – we’re both retired now.

  37. Not A Manager*

    Is it clear that Drew only did this for a week? The letter says that he took both jobs in the same week, that he’s been in the present job for a month, and that he quit the other job at some point, leaving them in the lurch.

    I don’t know why it seems worse to me if he did this for, say, three weeks than one week, but it does.

  38. Elbe*

    I think it’s important to confirm the truth of the story before acting on it. If I were Drew’s manager, I might even reach out to the other organization prior to bringing it up with Drew. If he denies it, they’re going to have to confirm it with the other company, anyway, and why stress him out if it turns out to be someone with the same name?

    If it is true, though, I wouldn’t blame the manager for thinking that this person can’t be trusted. A lot of the people in the comments seem to be pro-Drew in sort of an anti-capitalism way, but you have to remember that Drew’s coworkers were affected by this, not just the company itself. Someone at the other company took the time to train Drew, and will likely have to take on more work now that filling his role is back to square one. It’s not on the same level as a company hiring two employees with the intention of only keeping the best one (companies do have more structural power), but it’s the same energy. People – both managers and employees – who break social norms around work relationships are pushing us in a more dog-eat-dog direction and I don’t think that’s good for anyone. I think that it’s positive that, currently, most people who hire or accept a job do it in good faith. I wouldn’t blame someone for quitting at a company they found out had hired two people, and I wouldn’t blame a manager for firing someone who accepted two jobs.

    And, just personally, I feel like I know the type of personality that would pull a stunt like this and I wouldn’t want to work with that person. People who are willing to leave other people in a lurch in order to maximize their own benefit are usually willing to leave you in a lurch, too. The (maybe) Drews of the world aren’t anti-capitalism, they’re just selfish.

    1. Roscoe*

      “People who are willing to leave other people in a lurch in order to maximize their own benefit are usually willing to leave you in a lurch, too.”

      You mean like every company who will lay people off to maximize their profits, all while keeping their higher level people, who made the decisions that led to profit loss? Like, everyone needs to look out for themselves.

      I’m not “defending” Drew. But I think too often people expect employees to worry far more about screwing over others than they expect employers to not screw over employees

      1. Elbe*

        I think that professional relationships should be as fair as possible, but I don’t want to find fairness at the bottom of the barrel. I don’t want a culture where things are “fair” because EVERYONE is allowed to act with without consideration.

        People who behave like Drew are affecting whole companies very little, and affecting their coworkers very much. A company is just a collection of humans, after all.

      2. Colette*

        I don’t think companies owe employees a job for life, nor do I think that employees owe companies a lifetime of service. But if a company hired 2 employees with no intention of keeping both of them on longer than a few weeks, I’d think they were pretty crappy – and an employee who takes two jobs with the intention of quitting one of them after a couple of weeks is also pretty terrible.

    2. Lifelong student*

      Thank you. I was disturbed at the number of people who seemed to think this was okay. You put it very well. For those who have put forth support for Drew and pointed out that it can be possible to have two full time jobs- that is not the issue here. This issue is there was no intent to have two full time jobs- but there was an intent to affect one of the two companies and the employees at that company. Selfish is exactly the term- “I’m doing what is best for me and I don’t care about anyone else!”

      1. PSB*

        On the flip side, though, that’s exactly how many, many businesses conduct themselves. Why do we so often expect more of employees than we do of employers?

        1. Elbe*

          My point is that, to even things up, we should expect more from employers… not less from employees.

          Allowing things to be even more cut throat isn’t the solution here.

          And plenty of decent employers have been burned, too. How many letters do we get here about new hires who lied on their resumes or have toxic behavior or have misrepresented their still set? Tons! Companies have more structural power to absorb these blows, but it’s not like their situation is a cake walk, either. The people who suffer the consequences of bad employees isn’t the CEO, it’s usually the people on the ground – mid-level managers and employees. The people doing the hiring can get bitter, too, and I’m sure they feel like they could justify hedging their bets.

          1. PSB*

            My point is that, to even things up, we should expect more from employers… not less from employees.

            I agree with this as an ideal…but this isn’t where we are now. Until we actually start expecting more of employers – which we haven’t yet – it’s not right to hold employees to a higher standard. That’s just continuing the way things have always been.

            1. Elbe*

              Taking two jobs with the intention of only keeping one isn’t where we are right now, either. That’s not typical or common. The people who are pro-Drew aren’t keeping the status quo, they’re lowering it.

              And allowing people like Drew to benefit from behavior that puts others at a disadvantage is only going to make it more likely that people like him end up in upper management, making decisions for other people. Changing the culture as a whole means evaluating the personality traits and behaviors that are rewarded at all levels of business.

              It’s misguided to think that we can promote and reward less ethical behavior from some employees and still make positive changes to the culture, overall. The Drews of the world are tomorrows Directors and VPs and they’re going to be using the same tactics that got them to that role.

              1. PSB*

                Or they learned that behavior from today’s Directors and VPs. I just don’t agree with putting the onus for cultural change on the people at the very bottom of the ladder first.

                1. Elbe*

                  Yes, it’s a cycle.

                  But just as I would encourage someone to quit a job (if they are able) if they found a toxic culture, employers should also prevent a toxic culture from forming in the first place.

                  People seems to have the attitude that Drew is hurting only the company, but that’s simply not true. He’s also claiming an unfair advantage over other people who are on the same rung of the ladder that he is. Someone who is willing the take two jobs in bad faith is going to have a significant advantage over someone who is choosing a single job honestly.

        2. Colette*

          Good companies – and there are a lot of them out there! – don’t screw over employees just because they can. That doesn’t mean that they never fire or lay off employees – of course they do – but they make an effort to do so in a respectful way (PIPs, severance, outplacement help, etc.)

        3. Qwerty*

          The employer equivalent would be if a company hired two people with the same start date for the same role, with the intent of firing one of them after a couple weeks after determining who was a better fit for the role (and not telling either person this before they accepted the job). We would be all over that employer if someone wrote in with that story and they would likely get a bad reputation. There are some industries that hire a group of people with the intent to eventually whittle it down, but they are typically upfront about the process and timeline as it is standard in the industry, and all the ones I know about pay really well to provide a cushion for those who don’t make the cut.

      2. Roscoe*

        But, he just as easily could’ve accepted one job and realized a week in that it wasn’t working. The only difference here is that he went in with a backup, instead of putting all his eggs in one basket

        1. Elbe*

          If he took two jobs, one of them was guaranteed to be left in a lurch. He put his eggs in multiple baskets at the expense of other people, namely his coworkers who are now understaffed for an even longer period of time. He chose to make other people’s situation more difficult so that his could be better.

        2. MCMonkeybean*

          It’s the intent that makes it a dick move though.

          We are in our busy season right now so we brought in a consultant. We spent a week getting all his access and software set up and another week training him on our processes. Then he had a family emergency come up so he is going to have to leave and we will be getting a new consultant and will have to start the process all over. That’s a case of “well sometimes life happens, you never know.”

          But if the situation in the letter is as described, then Drew *did* know he’d be leaving one of the jobs and end up costing his coworkers a ton of time. And that’s what makes it different than a situation like the one I’m in where no one could have seen it coming.

  39. Hiring Mgr*

    Alison’s main point which i agree with, is that we really don’t know whether this even happened as it’s being told. How did Drew’s short term coworker know that Drew also had another full time job at OPs company? Drew just admitted it? Anyway, sounds like this is all second/third hand info/gossip at this stage.

  40. RC Rascal*

    There is a huge point here that is being missed. The organizations are similar. That means that by Drew working for both he is creating a security risk to both , provided this is true.

    Corporate espionage is a thing. I have to take training on it every year. This is a huge security risk. Drew should be fired IMO.

  41. IDK*

    What about ghost employment? We had an issue locally and the police were involved in the investigation with charges brought up on a couple of people, but I don’t know all the ins and outs of it.

  42. boop the first*

    Ah, I didn’t consider the possible working from home aspect, and maybe that’s a thing. I just assumed this person was going to one day job, then immediately going to another job overnight, which is something that people do out of necessity, so I would want to be sure before kicking up a fuss.

    Quitting a week into a job sounds like the other company’s problem. I would never do it personally, but probation period does work both ways. If we allow companies to drop people, rescind offers, bait-and-switch, fire on the last day before retirement, drain pensions, demand immediate start dates without notice periods, perform phase-outs, deny sick leave, perform lock-outs, exploit the poor, subsidize wages, they’re on there own with this one.

    1. Snuck*

      I will admit if this was an entry to mid level role (not specialist or professional level), then hedging either way until you learn the work isn’t for you isn’t a bad tactic… from the employee perspective. There’s too much misrepresentation of work and workplace culture (not intentional probably, delusional is too strong a word, but people struggle to describe their own lobster pots to others!), but I can also say that when I’ve found a particularly good candidate it hasn’t all been a ‘power on the side of the employer’ thing – I’ve felt competitive, a need to sell us as an employer and disappointed when we haven’t been able to recruit “the One” that I wanted…. Sometimes the dynamic is skewed in the employee’s favour, particularly in niche, skilled and professional roles.

  43. Antoinette*

    This reminds me so much of the college students I advise who load extra classes onto their schedule, attend everything for the first week, and then drop the classes they don’t like.

    Some faculty are bothered because the students are taking up seats in classes they don’t intend to keep, but the students argue they are paying and should be able shop around for the best match.

    1. KHB*

      It sounds like the faculty who are complaining are the ones who tend to end up on the “not the best match” end of the spectrum. If so, that’s on them.

      1. Lifelong student*

        Or maybe the faculty actually requires the students to do some work in the course and the student just wants the required credit? Then the faculty gets dinged because people drop their classes because- as one student said to me–” I can take this as a summer class at the local community college, do no work, and get an A- so why should I stay in your class?” Oh, maybe to actually LEARN something!

    2. Colette*

      When the real people they are hurting are the other students who can’t get into classes they need because they’re taking up spaces.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        This was my immediate thought! I struggled every semester with my requirements because of this.

    3. Metadata minion*

      Signing up for more classes than you expect to take and dropping some the first couple of weeks is so normal as to be expected at both the undergraduate school I went to and the one I currently work at. Is that unusual? Often syllabi aren’t available until the first day of class, or at least until long after the registration period the previous semester, so students don’t have all the information they need to choose.

    4. AFac*

      There are also colleges that use the number of people who drop a particular class as a quality metric. The idea is that if the faculty was a good instructor, no students would be doing poorly enough to drop the class. So they can use the number of students who drop a class as a tool to evaluate a faculty member when it comes time for reappointment, raises, and promotion, or even funding to the department as a whole.

      Of course, the reality is that students drop classes for a multitude of reasons, including many that have nothing to do with the quality of the teacher.

    5. BBA*

      When I taught college, I didn’t expect my first-week enrollment to reflect the class that I’d end up with. It was my expectation that some students would figure out the class wasn’t for them, others might have who knows what kind of conflicts or situations arise, and others would join the class a bit later. Maybe it’s different at different institutions, or maybe it’s the difference between ‘loading up’ on extra hours versus just trying to play Jenga with your schedule as classes start and seats open or close, but where I’ve studied/taught, it’s the norm for students to take that first week to make sure the class is right for them/their schedule.

      Starting at two full-time jobs for full-time pay does seem to me to be quite qualitatively different than students taking some extra hours while they figure out which classes to take for each semester while paying tuition.

  44. Day Tripper*

    I know someone who just did this, for 2 months. They had a full-time job, was on a PIP (!!), and worked half remote and half in the office. Then accepted another full-time job that was remote. They did both jobs, even the 2nd job while in the office of 1st job. They did not work 80 hours, they worked 40 total at both. After 2 months, they quit the first job because of pending termination that was inevitable. I thought it was a shitty thing to do but they also show a lack of integrity in other aspects of their life so there’s no rationalizing with someone like this.

  45. ChachiGambino*

    Definitely warrants further investigation first. Who knows what the differences were or if he was even doing anything more than…ethically icky?

    I remember a family legend about my great-grandmother: the only sick day she ever took in her life was to go try a job at a different factory that paid an extra 2 cents an hour. The conditions were horrible, so the next day she just returned to her original job and her boss was never the wiser.

    People have to do what they have to do, especially in this economy. Employers have shown their true colors during Covid and for the most part it’s pretty ugly.


      ChachiGambino – I’d love to hear more about this – all the Fortune 500 companies here treated their employees very well. Work From Home. Take your vacation, etc. The only thing burning me is I am still paying for a parking spot that I cant use, even after hours.

  46. The Crown*

    I’m kind of surprised by people’s answers here. I would definitely fire an employee I found out they did this. It has happened at our company before. It seems really shady, and with people working from home, you need to make sure people are actually doing their jobs and not just “jiggling” the mouse to make them look active. I mean, doing laundry, helping kids with school, all of that is fine, its just the “watching netflix” all day.
    I respect my employees and trust them and this would make me not trust them.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      There were no complaints about his work though.

      I am also not ruling out the possibility that the Drew OP’s friend told OP about is a different Drew.

      1. Pibble*

        There were no complaints about his work severe enough that his manager went to HR (who wrote in). We don’t know that his work was actually good because OP isn’t his manager.

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        I mean, OP is saying that the manager has not actively sought them out to complain but they also said they haven’t checked in with the manager yet–so it is not yet known if there are complaints about his work.

  47. Hmmm*

    A few weeks ago, I saw an anonymous post on another job board (if you’re on FB and in the Bay Area, you probably know which one I’m talking about) from a candidate who received two full time internship offers and asked if it would be ok to do two internships at once. I was surprised to see all the commentators encouraging this OP to take on both internships! Maybe the expectations are little different in the tech field, or maybe the hours of work are flexible (meaning that OP could work at anytime during the week, as long as they got all 80 hours in), but I would’ve never even dared to do this as an intern!

    1. introverted af*

      My automatic assumption is that an internship is part time, so I could see how this could work. Do mornings at one, afternoons at the other, double your experience and references.

      1. Hmmm*

        Both internships were full time positions, as stated in my comment. I’ve definitely noticed that there’s been more full time internship availabilities since COVID (at least in tech), because many college students are putting their college career on hold for the year or the semester to avoid paying full tuition for essentially online school through zoom.

  48. Construction Safety*

    Back in the ’80s, the story goes that in Houston, along chemical alley where the plants line the interstates & share a fence, an enterprising maintenance supv. worked for two adjacent companies. There was a hole in the fence somewhere in the back 40 & he would transfer back & forth through the hole. He carried two radios, one for each company & had a high degree of self-assigment for his work tasks. He did eventually get caught & lost both jobs.

  49. Wendy City*

    You know… as someone who started a new job teleworking in the last two weeks and is currently in the “waiting for my plate to fill up” phase of a new job, taking a second, simultaneous full-time job has crossed my mind!

    Of course, the consequences of getting caught (especially because my first employer is a government contractor and has many confidentiality rules/regs to follow) are too dire for me to follow through.

    But I really can’t blame this guy for trying.

  50. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I’ve been reading the comments and now I’m all over the map. I understand what might have driven this person do this, and why the letter writer has all sorts of mixed feelings. It’s not a great situation overall but I get why some are on the employee’s side.

    There’s a lot of factors at play: what is the 2nd job? Is the onboarding long and boring or are you expected to jump in feet first and start being productive? Are the hours flexible? Are you getting things done?

    And ultimately, that is the bottom line. I had a coworker where it was long suspected they were working a 2nd job while at the 1st job pre-COVID but wasn’t caught because they never used the work computer, but suspected to be using their phone. It was an issue because Things Weren’t Getting Done, and they where in a work classification that had a very fixed number of hours worked per day with permission required for overtime. There wasn’t any flexibility really for them to work two jobs at the office at the same time. This, coupled with a lot of absenteeism, resulted in work dumped on other people and no sense of teamwork. It’s not a fun situation.

    If the employee is doing well, I would let it go. After all, there’s no proof and asking the employee puts them really on the spot. But keep a distant eye for any future red flags or performance issues.

  51. Office candy bowl filler*

    Personally, anyone criticizing this employee is way off base.
    Companies do this all the time with no consequences.

    Frankly I applaud the employee, as long as he was giving each a true 40 hours or truly accounting for actual hours worked.

  52. Pyjamas*

    My daughter accepted one job and during orientation week got another—and much better—job offer unexpectedly. She ended up accepting the new job, negotiated a start date a few months hence, and told the supervisor at her present job right away. Then she spent the next two months on short term projects. No bridges burned. It helped that New Job was such a plum that supervisor and co-workers totally understood.

    Like many others, I’m not shocked by Drew’s behavior per se but a little puzzled that he didn’t handle the dilemma more transparently. If it were really a matter of finding out which he “liked” better (ie was always going to choose one) why not use the two offers to negotiate for a better deal? Us OP sure that was his intent? Is it possible he thought he could do both jobs and found the workload more than he could handle? As others have pointed out, many ppl do work more than one job. Not great but not as deceptive

    1. Pyjamas*

      Caveat: “not as deceptive”
      If these orgs were competitors, wouldn’t there be some kind of do-not-compete clause in the terms of employment? If so, the decision for OP would be simple. It sounds more like these are two orgs that need employees with similar skills but not directly competing.

  53. Bob*

    To be honest, this is kind of clever.
    But trust is integral and this is not very trustworthy behaviour. Also not being accepted workplace norms it creates problems.

  54. S*

    I knew someone who did this for almost nine months. She worked two remote design jobs in the same industry and juggled them flawlessly until she made a calendar error with overlapping important meetings. Then she simply quit one job and kept working at the other for another six months or so before moving on.

  55. Pro - Drew*

    To be honest, I’m not mad at Drew. Play the game, Drew! And LW is a snitch! (I guess that’s what can happen when you work in HR….)

    Don’t mess with other people’s money if you don’t have to.

  56. Grim*

    This reminds me of a time that I worked in a very large building at a University where 10 employees worked.

    Due to the size of the building, it had its own janitor, who I would occasionly see at 8:00 in the morning getting his bucket and mop from the closet that was just around the corner from my office. He would return his bucket and mop to the same closet at the end of the day.

    One day, he was urgently needed to mop up a water spill that happened in the main hallway and no one can find him until he showed up at the end of the day to return his bucket and mop to the closet.

    It turns out that he pushed his bucket and mop through the building every day, saying good morning to everyone and put his bucket and mop into secret closet he had towards the large storage area at the back of the building, got in his car and went to clean other buildings through his own personal business.

    He had apparently been doing this for over 10 years and, without the water spill, he probably would have continued until retirement. This was a full time job with benefits and insurance through the University said he milked for every dime he could get.
    No wonder the bathrooms were so unkempt!

  57. AR*

    “Honestly, 10 years ago I would have come down harder on him for that piece of it … but the older I get, the more I appreciate how much capitalism screws over most workers, and the less inclined I am to lambaste someone for finding a way to play the game that benefits them. ”

    Can you say this again for the people in the back?

  58. Pyjamas*

    Reading thru these responses, OP should take their company’s culture into account. If the majority of employees are as chill with this as many commenters (including me), then coming down hard on Drew will seem like Evil Corporation Screws Worker. If the culture is the reverse, then giving Drew a pass will seem like Some Ppl Get Away with Murder and Company Does Nothing.

    This would all have been easier if OP did not listen to gossip and let Drew’s manager or co-workers come to them with concerns (Already said I was team Drew). I would hate to have OP as my HR

    1. Pyjamas*

      Argh wish I could edit. Yes a coworker did come to HR but unless coworker’s spouse worked directly with Drew, it was company gossip which then got passed on to HR

  59. Elbe*

    Type of person who would be this cut throat in finding a job is exactly the same type of person who would be cut throat later in their career when they’re in upper management and making decisions that affect lower-level employees.

    I genuinely don’t understand the logic that the Drews of the world are heroes when they don’t have power, but the root of evil when they do. They are the same Drews.

    Our corporate culture is so unhealthy right now because we allow people to benefit from poor behavior. A lot of the people who rise to the top are there because they’re disproportionately willing to help themselves at the expense of others.

    Someone who hedges their bets like Drew did very well could end up with a better job, at the expense of the coworkers he left in a lurch. And, once they climb the ladder they’ll do the same thing, with even worse consequences.

    1. Pyjamas*

      Or maybe they’ll remember how desperate they were that they took two jobs and advocate better treatment of employees.

      1. Elbe*

        It’s possible that Drew is doing this solely out of desperation, but I doubt it. It seems like a pretty straightforward way to minimize his risk by maximizing others’ risk.

        I know some crappy managers and shady business people and this is 100% the type of “lifehack” they would do, because ultimately they care more about their advantages than they do creating a space where people act in good faith.

        I think it’s incredibly ironic that the people who are so anti-corporation are the ones who are supporting the type of selfishness and disregard that is the hallmark of our sick corporate culture.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          I think it’s just nice to see the shoe on the other foot once in a while. Like the Gamestop thing, we all like to see the “little guy” put one over on the big boys.

          I would never do what Drew did, but I don’t think it brands him for life as selfish or sick. We’re all just trying to get by

          1. Elbe*

            I guess I don’t really see this as the shoe being on the other foot. It’s the same dysfunction, just a little further down the chain.

            People aren’t sympathetic to companies, and I get that. But promoting this type of behavior actually makes the problem worse. It’s not JUST companies that this behavior hurts.

            Taking two jobs and picking the best gave Drew an advantage – not just over the company, but also over other workers at his level. Because he’s willing to be cut throat, he’s able to cherry pick the best role in a way that someone who is equally a “little guy” isn’t able to. If he does this again because it worked so well the first time, he’s more likely to climb the ranks higher and faster than someone who is more ethical. And that dynamic – that good behavior is a hinderance and selfish behavior is an advantage – is EXACTLY what fuels the systemic problems that we have. This is an early stage of the same cycle. Everyone who is currently a little guy could be The Man one day.

            The issue isn’t necessarily Drew himself. He could be young and misguided, or he could be habitually selfish. The issue is that selfish behavior is rewarded, whether it’s a one-off or not. There’s no way for anyone to excuse the misguided Drews of the world without also enabling the habitually selfish Drews of the world – they look the same initially. It’s the behavior that should be evaluated, not the source of the motivation.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              Agree, but unfortunately, “Nice guys finish last” seems to be the way things go..occasionally even the most well meaning of us act in our self interest.

              1. Elbe*

                That’s really pessimistic, and I don’t think I agree that it’s always how things are. Most people are able to act in their own self interest without going so far as to throw other people under the bus.

                If Drew’s manager decides that she can’t trust him and lets him go, then he’s not finishing first. He won’t benefit from his actions. If we agree that this behavior in unattractive and create consequences for it, then people won’t be incentivized to act this way in the future. It’s absolutely possible to create a culture where ethical people tend to be promoted over people who act in bad faith.

  60. In my shell*

    Drew is the poster child for the fears and concerns of anti-WFH managers. This does not help the WFH cause at all. *sigh*

    1. Delphine*

      Anti-WFH managers are fully capable of conjuring up the worst kind of employee in their head to justify their anti-ness. They don’t really need Drew or people like him to pretend like their beliefs are valid.

      1. KHB*

        OK, so what about pro-WFH managers who want to be able to treat their employees like trustworthy adults – but then somebody like Drew comes along?

          1. KHB*

            What do you think being pro-WFH means? I certainly don’t think it means “My employees can do whatever they want, whenever they want, because I don’t even care anymore.” Rather, it’s something more like “I trust that my employees are as committed to their jobs as they were in the office, because I don’t need to be looking over their shoulders all the time to believe that they’re doing what they say they are.”

            A functional WFH arrangement does take trust. A lot of us are a bit less productive than we were in the office, because our WFH setups are less than ideal. Managers need to trust that if we’re accomplishing somewhat less than usual, it’s because we’re trying our best but are limited by factors beyond our control, not because we’re spending half the day watching Netflix or working a second job for a competitor.

            Trust, however, evaporates quickly when people don’t behave in a trustworthy manner. Most employees don’t pull stunts like Drew’s, but some of them do, and managers aren’t out of line to worry about that.

  61. AthenaC*

    The most charitable interpretation is that Drew walked into this eyes wide open and really did work a full 80-hour week while he figured out which organization he wanted to work for. I could see him marshalling his adrenaline for maybe a week while he did this, but:

    1) How would you figure out anything in one week that you wouldn’t have / couldn’t have figured out during the interview process?
    2) Working two full-time jobs is really REALLY not sustainable for (what I think would be) a reasonable amount of time to actually figure out which job is best suited to you.

    All in all, not a great look for Drew. Am hoping he at least learned that this is not a good idea and hopefully he won’t do this again.

    1. AthenaC*

      Also, was Drew in violation of any agreements he signed in connection with his employment? Most places I have worked, you have to agree not to have another full-time job, and there’s even some parameters around what an acceptable part-time job would be.

    2. Pyjamas*

      Yes. If Drew is 25 this is much more understandable (including assuming he could work 2 jobs simultaneously) than if he were 45. I’m imagining this column in 20 years when Drew writes in to share what a dumb thing he did during the pandemic

    3. WS*

      Yeah, one or two 80 hour weeks is sustainable, so I’m wondering if he genuinely thought he could do both and realised that he couldn’t.

  62. Specially-Machined Cog*

    We’re in a situation where employers now expect their employees’ entire home lives to cater to the workplace, where the workplace has literally invaded the home.
    My take? More power to Drew for auditioning future bosses. If you’re going to literally have your workplace inside your house, spending your utility dollars and increasing your home internet bills and trying to tell your spouse, children, and pets when they can and cannot make noise? Deciding which offer to accept becomes a lot more high-stakes.

  63. Noncompliance Officer*

    I work in the public sector and part of my job includes assigning security rights in the state system. A year or so ago (pre-pandemic) we hired a worker, let’s call her Esmerelda. Esmerelda was enthusiastic to start, but had told us that she had a two week vacation planned three weeks into her start date. We weren’t thrilled about it, but agreed to let her start.

    The week of Esmerelda’s vacation, I received a call from a sister agency two counties over. They asked me to close out Esmerelda’s access so they could add her to their agency. I started laughing hysterically. It turned out Esmerelda had decided to play the field and see which agency she liked better. She got fired by both instead.

  64. not a mary*

    I’m really curious about the coworker’s husband and how this started. Was it just a case of both of them mentioning a new guy named Drew and one of them quit? Because I have a fairly common name, so if two of me work in healthcare in two different places in my city… well, there’s already three of me at my current job. It wouldn’t be unknown.

    1. Pro - Drew*

      Yeah, I would love more info on this. This HR is taking gossip from an employee’s spouse, not even the employee. This is shady behavior from the company. They can gather information based on gossip, but Drew is in the wrong? Nah.

      1. not a mary*

        Yeah, I’m considering this complaint as at the same level of an “anonymous email tip” and feel that someone is either grinding an axe or otherwise doing something to undermine someone. The complaint isn’t coming from anyone who works with Drew, just someone tangentially related to the job?

        If my boss came to me and said “Jane Doe, I just want to make sure that you didn’t start working at Other Place while you were still full time employed here, because someone said they had a new hire there also named Jane Doe”, I’m going to be seriously insulted and also really doubt *her* integrity and professionalism. Yes, even if both of us were born in my birth year and both of us went to the same Very Large state school.

        There’s a song about a guy having 27 Jennifers in his class. Common names happen.

  65. Sharon*

    I think the company should investigate, but concentrate on Drew’s performance in THIS job. Did he violate any policies by failing to report the other job? Was he available and performing adequately? Were there any conflicts created by working the other job? Did he have access to information that you wouldn’t want shared with competitors? Was he using your company’s equipment to do the other job?

  66. Just Another Zebra*

    While I wouldn’t say I’m “team Drew”, I don’t think this is the crisis some commenters see. The information that Drew worked at Company A and B simultaneously is very removed – Spouse A told Spouse B, and then Spouse B told LW. LW doesn’t indicate how Spouse A found out – was he training Drew? Would they have worked in the same department, so he saw him? Or were they just peripherally aware of a new guy working there who quit after a week. Based on the letter, I’m just not certain LW has all the relevant info. The information in the letter is all hearsay. Before LW asks Drew anything, I’d go back to your employee and ask for more info.

    I also question the bit about “worked for us for a week and then left us completely in the lurch”. How much was really put on a person who worked there for a week? I mean, yeah, it sucks that Drew cut and run after 5 days. But he could have quit and started at LW’s company the following Monday. He could have decided he hated the job and just hightailed it out of there with no warning, and no job lined up. He could have had a sick relative out of state that he needed to attend to. My point is, he could have left a job after 1 week for any number of reasons, and LW just doesn’t have enough info to confront him about it.

  67. This happened to me!*

    This happened to my organization a few years ago. We don’t know it was exactly the same week, but we have a very flexible remote work policy, his boss was working out of another office, and we just thought he had a steep learning curve for the first two months, until he went basically MIA for a week when his boss was on sick leave. We’d already made the decision to let him go when we found his bio on another company’s website, but it definitely didn’t help…

    I sometimes wonder if, had he just been a little bit better at balancing both jobs, we would have kept him on doing a mediocre job for longer. It was such a mess.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      People doing the wrong thing will always trip themselves up sooner or later; usually but not always sooner (but I find that if it persists for a long time it’s always worse in the end!).

      I feel like y’all would have kept him on for a little while perhaps, but then discovered it through some other indiscretion!

  68. Amlan Gupta*

    Allison, it’s disappointing to read “capitalism screws over most workers”. What we have today is not capitalism. It’s a mix of socialism, fascism (in its proper definition of ostensible private property but really state control), and aspects of the free market. I sincerely hope that you don’t believe that workers are better off under systems other than capitalism as history would certainly say otherwise.

    1. raincoaster*

      History disagrees with you. Even hunter-gatherers only worked 5 hours a day.

      What we have is late stage capitalism, which is what you get just before a system comes to its natural death.

    2. Analyst Editor*

      Absolutely this.
      What do you think powers the wealth that funds these generous benefits and great technology we enjoy, and the drop in world poverty? Idyllic hunter-gatherer wilderness or Beautiful Socialist Utopias?

  69. raincoaster*

    People DO work 80-hour weeks at two or more different jobs. They don’t do a great job at any of them (I say from experience) but they can and do work them. If he actually did 40 hours of work for you every week, I’m not sure what the problem is; his performance at the other job isn’t your problem.

  70. AMB*

    Here’s a hypothetical question – more of a thought experiment since I’m curious what others think…assuming anyone even reads this far. (And I’ll preface by adding that I’m 100% in agreement with the ethical issues of doing what Drew allegedly did.)

    What are the ethics of having two ostensibly full-time, salaried jobs as long as one is able to complete all the work for both, regardless of whether it takes 80 hours, or significantly less, to do so? I’ve known a few people who either were able to automate basically their entire workload or applied for jobs that could have been automated. (I’ll add that in the latter example, the person in question chose not to take the job precisely because it didn’t involve any real work.)

    On one hand, the worker who takes two jobs in this scenario could reasonably complete the requirements of both – and presumably would be able to meet other demands as far as being available for meetings and emails during the workday. On the other hand, I get a “something’s not right about this” feeling and can’t quite put my finger on why.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      You should repost this in the Friday open thread. You’d get more responses that way. I’d be fascinated to see what people say!

    2. MCMonkeybean*

      I guess it depends on the type of work, but in my limited office experience finding ways to make processes faster was an expected part of the job. We are constantly in a state of “process improvement” so that if we can make project X taken 5 less hours than we can take on new projects. I think that’s why to me the idea of automating your job to be faster but then not telling your boss and just pretending it is taking longer (which is how I understood your hypothetical scenario so sorry if I’m off base there) feels wrong to me.

      I meant don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that any time someone finishes an assignment faster than expected they have to immediately run to their boss and ask for more work or something… But in the much more extreme setup of the hypothetical I think that takes it too far to be reasonable.

  71. Tired of Covid-and People*

    I know someone who accepted a full-time position, and took a leave of absence from their job instead of resigning. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with the new job, so they returned to the other one after a year. I was flabbergasted by this, although in retrospect it seems good they did this, although they hated the job they returned to, it’s a job.

    However, in this scenario, two jobs were not being worked simultaneously. If the OP’s employee was working from home at both jobs at the same time, and both jobs were full-time with basically the same hours, well, no. OP’s employee collected two paychecks, albeit for a short time, and likely didn’t work fully for either one of them. Not appropriate in my book.

    I get being unsure about which position to take if you are in the enviable position of having a choice. But asking for more time to consider the offers would have been a better course of action. I lean to what this employee did as being unethical. Hopefully, there were no outside employment restrictions like with my job, where you would be unceremoniously fired for pulling a stunt like this. The employee may have been able to pull this off for a time, but this isn’t a sustainable course of action. Seems like a waste since such a short employment period is still the honeymoon phase, hardly a true representation of the job.

  72. L6orac6*

    I have no problem him working at 2 jobs and deciding which was the best for him! The other guy is a dobber. Probation period is for both parties, not just the employer!

  73. Working Hypothesis*

    If it was only doubled up for the first week, it is actually possible that he gave both jobs 40 hours before deciding to drop one of them. If one or both of the jobs doesn’t care when he does his work so long as he does a full schedule’s worth of it, he could easily have just done 11-12 hour days, including the weekend, and not done much else that week besides eat and sleep. It’s hard, yes, but it’s certainly no more than is necessary and expected for a week at a time in many jobs that get pretty intense when there’s a deadline approaching. Many of us have probably put in a week like that here and there… I know I have.

    So if he did that, what exactly is wrong with how he treated the company where the LW works? I can see that he treated the other company rather shabbily by deciding to quit after a week (and going into both the jobs knowing he *might* well quit after a week). On the other hand, Alison says all the time that sometimes jobs just don’t work out, and someone will quit at a time that’s inconvenient for the company, and that’s okay and reasonable.

    It sounds to me like, so long as he actually gave both jobs the quantity and quality of work that they expected from him, his only real offenses were:

    1) accepting jobs with the secret knowledge that, in at least one of them, he wouldn’t be staying very long; knowing that they expected him to be planning to stay for a reasonable time, and not letting them know that his intentions were otherwise, and

    2) quitting the other job without giving two full weeks of notice, because he couldn’t maintain the double schedule for three weeks at a stretch.

    Neither of these is ideal, but the second one is the other company’s problem and not the LW’s, and I’m inclined to think that the LW’s company should find out what happened but not give up on an otherwise good employee over it.

  74. Chickaletta*

    Even if he did what he’s accused of and the company decides to keep him on, I think it’s important to have a conversation with him about it because it affects his reputation and he should be aware of that.

  75. Appalled*

    Several years ago, a co-worker took sick time to start a new position. After second day, he decided he didn’t like that place, so he quit and returned to work as if nothing had happened.

  76. Roci*

    I am very surprised to see this “go worker” response to what in my country/industry would be timecard fraud. Also usually part of the job is “being available” and “being proactive” and “building relationships” which yes is harder with WFH and during the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can opt out of it with no consequences. I am assuming he used his own equipment because IME most companies do not allow you to use their equipment for other work.

    Alison, how would you advise if OP had not heard any problems about Drew’s work, but heard that Drew was watching Netflix all day instead of working? Or if Drew had gotten someone else to do his work for him–a coworker, a spouse, a freelancer? If Drew lied on his resume or had someone else write his cover letter? If Drew had used company A equipment to do work for company B?

    I am confused why some of these ethical violations are OK and some are not. I am as anti-capitalism as they come but if being the underdog means you get to cheat, then why is this the only situation you get to cheat in?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think it’s okay. I explicitly said that. I’d probably fire him. I just said I’m not as willing to lambaste him as I would have been a decade ago.

      1. Roci*

        That’s fair. But I think that point was not as clear, and the way you framed the issue influenced many commentors’ readings of the letter. It feels like a gladiator’s ring where now we cheer for the underdog instead of looking at the gross situation around us. The other fighters, like the person who wrote cover letters for others, didn’t get that leeway, and that seems unfair.

    2. misspiggy*

      If Drew was working his agreed hours for both companies and wasn’t in violation of their conflict of interest policies, I don’t think there is an ethical violation of the types you mention.

      Leaving without notice breaks a convention but not a contract. If an employer can ditch an employee without notice (which seems to happen all the time in the US, based on this site, why can’t an employee do the same?)

      The only thing Drew was doing wrong, if the caveats above actually happened, was not being loyal to either employer. Given convention, it’s understandable that people in both organisations would feel cheated. But without a contract of employment, isn’t that feeling misplaced? Isn’t the employee free to do what they like outside their employer’s time?

      1. Roci*

        My reading of the letter is that if Drew started two non-conflicting jobs that never overlapped in hours, then that would have been relevant information that OP would have received. “Drew started working nights at company A while he’s working days at company B.” or OP thinks “well, we do offer flexible scheduling, ah yes, he’s the hire who negotiated a 12-8pm schedule”.

        If he was working two jobs, on his own equipment, in different industries, at different times of the day, then sure there’s not really a problem, but I think that would be very important information to know and would totally change the situation.

        If there is no contract of employment, then the only thing holding worker and company together is the trust in each others’ integrity. If there isn’t that then there is nothing. Mostly I object to the idea that we should take glee in Drew “winning” this bout rather than looking at what a broken system it is that there are no contracts, no consequences for either side not following the rules of engagement, no penalties for acting dishonorably.

  77. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Reading this made me think of some experiences with previous new jobs:
    –Took an office job (was told in the interview that the previous person had moved out of the area; after I started Boss told me warningly that they had replaced her with a guy who they had to let go after a couple of months because his skills weren’t good and he was slow.) I caught up a mountain of claims processing, another mountain of filing, created a client database from scratch, and coordinated a mass mailing, completing it a full day ahead of deadline. A couple of months later, I was fired without warning and told I was slow and my skills weren’t good enough.
    –Interviewed for a job and was told they’d actually chosen someone. A month later they called and offered me the same kind of job, saying they were launching an additional shift. So I wasn’t surprise that another guy started the same day as me. The supervisor gave him more attention in training and clearly just liked him better. Whenever I did something well, the supervisor wasn’t pleased, he mocked my degree. I was bullied and threatened by a coworker, and the week I reported it I was fired. They falsely accused me of doing the ugly things I’d been subjected to. During my weeks there and talking to coworkers (just office chat, not gossip or nosing around), I gathered the person they hired when I first interviewed was gone in a month, so the second time around they hired 2 people to have a trained spare if #1 guy didn’t last, but if #1 worked out, they could dump the spare.
    –Took a job they said was a newly created position. A lie. The job had a years-long history of high turnover and people lasting less than a year. The other person in the dept. stormed out 7 wks after I started. Shortly after that, Boss started giving me a hard time. I started job hunting, but she beat me to the punch and fired me. I’d lasted about as long as all the others. Also turned out I wasn’t her first choice when she hired me. Her first choice quit after one week.

    So I don’t blame Drew a bit if he was hedging his bets. Sorry to say, employers tell all kinds of lies about the company and the job. If he was giving both jobs full measure for his paychecks while checking both out for his best option, well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  78. Username required*

    I am surprised at seeing so many Team Drew supporters. I can imagine the comments if someone wrote in to say they lost out on a job and later found out it was because the successful candidate had accepted 2 jobs to see which one they preferred. It’s not just the company that Drew is affecting – it’s the other candidates and the people involved in his training and recruitment. And if he behaves like that in the beginning as his manager I would always have concerns about his trustworthiness for timekeeping, expense reporting etc.

    1. Roscoe*

      For me, I wouldn’t say I’m “team drew” as in I support it. But its also something I can’t bring myself to be upset about. Nor do I think it should matter to his current job. It was something he did that likely had 0 impact on his employment with them.

      Its like somoene getting into a bar fight on a weekend. Is it good? No. Do I really care if my coworker did that and still got all their work done with me? No.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        How could it have 0 impact on his employment with them if he’s working from home full time and spent time that he said he was working for them doing a different job? I don’t know whether you could ever trust that employee in general, but I definitely don’t think you can trust them to manage their time honestly at home…

  79. PspspspspspsKitty*

    I’m most confused on how this info got out. The coworker’s husband is gossiping about a guy who worked maybe a week in his company? Are you *sure* it’s the same guy? It’s not that I think your coworker is lying. It’s just the info is so far removed from the situation that it’s weird. Like, what if he was working with the other organization, gets your company’s job offer, quit and then started at your company? I don’t keep up to date with start dates of my company’s employees, especially those who lasted a week. It would be a red flag to hear this a month later.

    With saying that, I don’t have advice. I tend to hold my reports to a strict no gossiping rule and this would violate it personally with me. I too wouldn’t know what to do with this info.

  80. JxB1000*

    Like others, my organization has a conflict of interest clause in our employee handbook where any outside work within a framework of our industry has to be reported. And aside from the potential conflict, the idea that someone could work 16 hours per day (if standard M-F) indefinitely on top of personal life without it impacting performance is unlikely. I get it, the employee’s personal life can’t be controlled. Maybe they have kids, eldercare, hobbies, volunteer work that takes equivalent time. But I think someone intentionally working two full-time jobs plus personal commitments is not going to be a high-performing employee. Especially a job that requires creativity and focus.

  81. Wonderer*

    I had a friend several years ago who told me one of his colleagues in Sales had been fired for this. It turned out he had several commission-based sales jobs and was collecting a minimum salary from five different companies. He didn’t really sell much, but his base payment from five jobs was pretty good.
    He ended up spending a lot more time interviewing for new jobs instead of doing sales, because he realized it was easier to just get a new job every couple of weeks to replace whichever one had recently fired him!

  82. MCMonkeybean*

    I’m a little fuzzy on the timeline here. At first I was like–what a weird plan, how could he possible know which job he preferred after only a week? When I started my remote job it took like three days just to get all the access and software I was supposed to have sorted out!

    But then I went back to read the letter again and I don’t think he says that he left the other job after a week, just that they started during the same week. I’m thinking that maybe Drew was working at both places for most of the month and it was only after he quit the other place that it came out?

    I don’t think it changes the advice ultimately, just wondering I guess.

  83. Too Millennial*

    Maybe I am too “millennial” for this blog, but I just don’t see why this is such a big deal. Plenty of people work multiple jobs adding up to 60-80 hours per week. People multi-task during their 9-5 jobs all the time.

    If the worker is completing his assignments satisfactorily, what is the actual issue? Is it really such a horrifying absence of integrity to flip between email inboxes? I don’t think so.

    I vehemently disagree with the idea that working two jobs is in someway unethical. The standard, again, should be the quality of his work.

    I think the real problem here is the gossiping that has ultimately motivated this letter. It is a sign of toxic management in my opinion. I would not want to work for these people who would happily accept my work as satisfactory, and in the same breath go behind my back and talk about me in defamatory ways.

    1. Too Millenial*

      My other thought here is – I think this narrative of employees “harming” companies is really a sad reflection of how workers are treated in the US. Companies do not have feelings and they can’t be “hurt,” they are abstract and inherently incur risk through their very existence.

      The worker surely had every right to terminate his employment with the second company for “any or no reason,” just as the employer would have every right to terminate him for the same.

      Please OP – move on and reflect on your own professional ethics. The situation concerning Drew is simply not ideal.

      What does concern me is the relationship between the OP, co-worker, and co-worker’s husband, and how that is impacting the business. It makes me seriously call into question who, exactly, in this situation is wasting company time.

  84. LV426*

    Are we sure that Drew started both at the same time? Maybe he had taken on this other job and then when this one came up he bailed on the other company. I’ve had this happen before where I was desperate for a job so I started working for one company but then the company I really wanted offered me the job I really wanted so I finished up the week with the first company so they weren’t scrambling mid week (the job I was doing was retrieving documents and sending them to overseas people who were on site for meetings), but started the new job the middle of the same week because they needed me to start right away. Technically yes I was employed at two places at the same time but I did do the jobs I was assigned for both places I just had adjusted hours where I did the first job from 8-4 and the second job was 4-12. At the end of that week I resigned and just told them it wasn’t a good fit.

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