the people who are secretly working multiple full-time jobs from home

I wrote a piece for Slate about the surge in people who are secretly working two or more full-time jobs without their companies’ knowledge — how they do it, what employers think of it, and the larger social forces that might be driving it.

You can read it here.

{ 307 comments… read them below }

    1. Cait*

      It’s pretty eye-opening. “… if they’re going to be overworked, they’re going to benefit from it,” is pretty much the crux of the issue. This isn’t about employees trying to pull one over on their employers as much as it’s about people feeling the need to “hustle” in order to pay their rent. That shouldn’t be the case and, if employers feel compelled to do something about it, I suggest they start with taking a good, hard look at how their employees are being compensated before they start firing people for having a mouse jiggler.

      1. Reality Biting*

        There’s a lot of talk in these comments about needing to “pay the rent”. Has anybody taken a gander at the Overemployed subreddit referred to in the article? This is mostly an activity of very well-paid programmers, coders, and IT folks working multiple tech jobs. The salary ranges seem to from about $90K to $130K per job, as far as I can tell. These are not starving single mothers one paycheck away from living in their cars.

        1. Cait*

          While being “over-employed” is probably a need for some people, you’re certainly correct that it isn’t for others (and yes, it’s definitely geared toward IT folks who WFH). However, the biggest risk of OE is that you can be fired if caught (which is ridiculous if you’re getting your work done and performing how you’re expected to). You’ll see a lot of people on that subreddit warning people who want to try being OE to NOT do it casually. In fact, a lot of people on OE admit that a lot of their jobs are contract or contract-to-hire so steady employment isn’t their reality. You have to be okay with potentially getting caught and fired, or losing your contract, or word getting around to not hire you, etc.. So it sounds like people who participate in OE are people who either 1. need the extra income or 2. are willing to be high risk for high payout.

          1. ADidgeridooForYou*

            To me, the issue is that most of these people probably aren’t performing well. I’ve worked directly under a supervisor who in the end was working 2 FT jobs, and a couple of my friends have had the same situation, as well. All of us would 1000% say our coworkers put a huge amount of extra work on us. They were often AWOL for large portions of the day, it was impossible to get answers from them, and we would end up having to work overtime to fix their errors. I’m sure they would have said they were doing both jobs well, but the reality was very different. Also, these are all people who make at least $150k for just the one job. Sure, maybe there are a few people out there who do both jobs extremely well, but I doubt it’s the majority.

            1. Avril Ludgateaux*

              Could this be confirmation bias, to a degree? In that, you knew the supervisor was working two jobs, and through that lens you would argue they were incompetent or at best inconsistent at their job? I might be tempted to argue that there are far more people doing this successfully who never get found out, because they never get found out. We only *know* of the people who get caught because they are doing poorly. The ones pulling it off are, well, pulling it off.

        2. Prospect Gone Bad*

          I’m laughing to myself that a current post is about “BS jobs.” The type of people who post on those sort of threads also believe so many jobs are BS. It’s weird circular self-own – they think their own jobs are BS hence everyone else’s must be too! Well, not everyone does a BS job. And many of us are in jobs that you could summarize as “this is technically not needed for human survival, but if people want the current standard of living with things like TV and phones, we need to be here.” which I would not categorize as BS

        3. Lizzo*

          Have you taken a gander at the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where many of the folks working in tech live? That salary may seem high, but when you have to pay $3,500/month for rent for a tiny apartment, it’s not going to stretch very far.

  1. raincoaster*

    Let’s get a companion piece on all the C-suite people who are openly holding c suite jobs at multiple companies and taking swollen salaries. Yes, Elon, looking at you.

    1. EPLawyer*

      A friend of mine who is a law school professor published a paper on the interlocking directorates of the pharma companies. It’s an … eye opener. At least one US Senator has called for an investigation.

    2. Wintermute*

      There is a huge difference between someone who buys a company and owns it and has some executive responsibilities– it’s his company he can do whatever he wants within the law– and someone who is hired. A business owner is free to own as many businesses as they want to, if they stretch themselves too thin, then the businesses start failing.

        1. Dinwar*

          Still applies though. The nature of the work is different.

          Take Musk. He has specific visions for a variety of companies–Tesla, SpaceX, and a few others (Twitter is its own beast). Those visions overlap in a lot of ways, so that what’s applicable to one is applicable to the others. Rapid iterative testing (often referred to as “Fail Faster”), for example, can be applied to both Tesla and SpaceX. Thus work at one company overlaps with work at another at that high level. Figuring out specific allocations and cost/benefits and risk assessments and the like can be delegated, leaving you free to review (a critical, but much shorter, process).

          Contrast that with a typical technical writer. Sure, technical writing for one company is going to be broadly applicable to other companies, but the actual writing process takes time. And if you’re working two full-time jobs, you almost certainly do not have time to do both. By the time you get to the point where you’re delegating you’re no longer writing, you’re managing writers, which is a totally different job (and it’s extremely common for someone managing technical writers to manage writers for multiple groups).

          Of course, this all may be wrong. A CEO can be very hands-on and in the weeds; I’ve worked with a few who are. At that level you’ve got a lot more latitude on what you do day-to-day.

          Without knowing a lot more about the day-to-day work than “He’s CEO of multiple companies” provides us with, we really can’t determine if sitting on the board of multiple companies is problematic or not. Any firm statement we make is going to be based more on prejudices than facts and information.

  2. Llama lamma workplace drama*

    I work full time as a computer programmer. I’ve thought about setting myself up to offer out my coding services as a contractor to other companies. It would have to be the thing though where I promise to give them 10 hours a week but on my schedule. So true contract work. I wouldn’t be able to take on 2 full time positions unless I was ‘half assing’ either 1 or both of them.

    1. Other name for this*

      I have been consulting about 10 hours a week the last year or so. The client typically wants to meet during 9-5 hours, but the majority of the work is done outside of these hours. My fulltime gig has been make my own hours for years. I’m not stealing time from my employer to take these meetings, I just work other times to make up for that time. My employer doesn’t know I do this additional work, but knows I’m actively involved in this space.

    2. Monday Monday*

      Back in 2004 I did something like this. I left my company for a new job but the old company still wanted my services and wanted me to do IT work for them on the side, in my free time. I was fully paid for my work, but it was great until it wasn’t. I was using my weekends working from home, and eventually gave it up.

  3. Sara without an H*

    I’m ambivalent about this one. One the one hand, it “feels” wrong, but if there’s no conflict of interest AND if the employee is able to perform satisfactorily, I’m not sure what grounds I (as manager) would have to object.

    I guess the only solution would be to focus on performance issues, rather than trying to suss out whether the employee had a second job. But it sounds frustrating.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This is where I fall.

      I mean, the amount of time I’ve spent at the workplace not engaged in actual work stuff is more than most people realize. If I can work from home, filter out all the fluff time and use it productively to work a second job, then why not?

        1. Greasy monkey*

          I stopped, scrolled back up to see what a mathematically perfect name looked like…and spit tea on the screen.

    2. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

      I find it grossly unethical and a form of wealth hoarding. Someone else would probably love to have the full-time position that person is hogging.

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        Right, that letter from the person with two 6-figure jobs justified it by having “paid their dues” and was praised for “sticking it to the man” when she could just as easily be described as “pulling the ladder up behind her” and being “the man”. At that level particularly it’s pure greed.

        1. EPLawyer*

          meanwhile economically disadvantaged people have ALWAYS worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. Might not be multiple full time jobs, but they cobble together as many hours as possible.

          But at one point is it wealth hoarding? We don’t know someone’s financial circumstances. They could have a lot of medical debt or be providing for an aging parent that doesn’t qualify for medicare (or they want more than the basic bare bones that medicare provides).

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            Economically disadvantaged people tend to be in the kinds of industries where it’s not possible to work two jobs in the same hours, and doing it to make a living wage. That’s quite different from holding two positions that each pay a living wage and leading both companies to believe you only work for them.

            1. Millie's Mom*

              Thank you for saying this – I came here to say it, too! I think that’s the part that makes it really icky for me. Those who can work the 2 full-time jobs during the same hours often are making large salaries at both. Not that they don’t “need” to, but equating it to “economically disadvantaged people have ALWAYS worked multiple jobs to make ends meet” is inaccurate at best, and shows a real sense of entitlement, and I think that’s also what makes it icky. Those who can’t see the problem are kind of the problem.

              I would also like to say that if someone is able to actually do 2 full-time jobs simultaneously, without compromising quality of work, then most probably those jobs shouldn’t be full-time jobs in the first place, and that’s a whole ‘nother problem! But that’s not the focus of the article, so that’s all I have to say about it.

              1. EPLawyer*

                I wasn’t equating it. I was pointing out that economically disadvanted people have HAD to do this to make ends meet. because of how their salaries suck.

                1. linger*

                  But “this” is not usually comparable for both groups, because the jobs typically held by the economically disadvantaged require physical presence and so do not permit double-counting the same hour towards multiple jobs.

            2. GythaOgden*

              This. Many WFH jobs are way better paid than in-person work as well, making it a case of ‘to them that hath shall be given’ as well — the better off have more opportunity to become even better off, where even my part time hours plus commute don’t give me the same opportunity.

          2. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

            I guess for me, it’s unethical to do so when you make a good living already and are just padding what you already have (which seems to be what most of the people I have read about are doing). It’s like buying up housing for “investment” – sure, technically you have the right to do it, and you can find good reasons to, but the rise in people doing so is also undoubtedly contributing to driving up prices and reducing housing stock. The job market is pretty tight, and I find it gross to take up more space than you need when others are struggling so hard.

            1. Happy*

              Unemployment is 3.4% in the US. Obviously it varies by location and industry, but this is not a particularly tight job market.

                1. Happy*

                  Obviously not. But the article in question was published in an American magazine and was written by an American author. So if you say, “the job market is pretty tight” and you’re trying to comment on the job market in South Africa…well, it behooves you to spell that out if you want people to understand your point.

              1. Hermana*

                Genuine question, I don’t know the answer here, but while unemployment is low overall, are there a large number of jobs with these kinds of high salaries and good benefits going begging? That’s the sticking point for me. It’s one thing if someone is working two+ jobs because it’s what they need to do to afford ballooning rent or support their family or something, but if someone’s working multiple highly compensated director-level positions at once, that starts to look like hoarding a comparatively scant resource when they don’t really need the money/benefits.

              2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                When we’re not committing suicide via the Phillips Curve, ~5% unemployment is considered sustainable full employment.

              3. Prospect Gone Bad*

                I’m confused now. This is by definition a very tight labor market where workers should have their pick of jobs. Why do you think it isn’t? The mainstream narrative from all sides and sources is “tight labor market”

                The controversial talking point is actually the opposite of what you wrote, and my experience. I find that most open jobs are looking for a different person than 5-7 years ago. I am seeing employer expectations at all time highs right now. Companies have all of their main work covered. Now they need help with the more difficult work and are looking for unicorns that may not exist. So many of the “openings” will never get filled

                Because of this, the labor market is tight but it doesn’t mean that any given person will be able to find a job

                1. Happy*

                  You’re right – this is a tight labor market. Thank you for the correction! I was responding to the gist of the comment which seemed to be arguing the opposite (that there are not enough jobs to go around right now, so it’s particularly selfish of people to work two jobs) and repeated Troy McClure’s wording.

              4. Charles-Henri Sanson*

                Employment is that low because so many people are struggling and have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

                And I don’t mean the white collar employees with two jobs pulling in 6+ figures.

                1. Reality Biting*

                  The unemployment rate makes a distinction between people who have no job and people who have more than zero jobs. It makes no distinction between people who have 1, 2, 3, or 25 jobs. Or for that matter people who have half a job. People working multiple jobs would not lower the unemployment rate. What it might do is tighten the labor market and account for an increase in payrolls (job gains). But it would not lower unemployment.

              5. Biff*

                I can’t speak for everywhere else, but in my area, the jobs available are primarily lower-skilled, lower paid work. Jobs where you don’t scrape by seem scarce.

          3. Chirpy*

            The people I work with who have multiple jobs are doing it because a full-time job at this company pays $30-35K and a living wage for a single person in this area is at least $40-45K….let alone if you have a family or house or student loans or medical bills to pay for….or want to be able to save anything at all…

            1. doreen*

              The people I worked with who were working multiple jobs ( although not usually during the same hours and not full-time to my knowledge) were making anywhere from $70K to $140K – the people making $40K rarely if ever had second jobs. Lots of people work second jobs because they must to make ends meet and lots do so for other reasons.

              1. Chirpy*

                The people working for $40K who don’t have a second job also could have the kind of job where a second job isn’t feasible. I certainly couldn’t do a second retail job just physically, and I have actually “good” predictable hours. I couldn’t do a remote job at the same time as I don’t have computer access at work. And I’d have to do a very low paid second job to keep my affordable apartment (or a very well paid job to get a market rate apartment, in which case I wouldn’t be working retail anymore)

                1. doreen*

                  Not the ones at my job – they worked M-F 9-5 or 8-4 or 7-3. Steady , predictable hours of not physically demanding office work. My guess is they didn’t have second jobs for much the same reason I didn’t – I valued time off more than I valued what I would spend the additional money on.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Right, that letter from the person with two 6-figure jobs justified it by having “paid their dues” and was praised for “sticking it to the man” when she could just as easily be described as “pulling the ladder up behind her” and being “the man”. At that level particularly it’s pure greed.

          That letter was 100% demographics makes it right. I had to take a break from reading for a few days afterwards… but ultimately I come down on her side theoretically. If the person is hitting all their performance metrics and not shifting responsibilities to peers, I have no problems with however many jobs are being juggled. That LW made it clear she was thriving because she had others to pick up her slack IMWPoV.

      2. baseballfan*

        I find the basic idea of this unethical, simply because if someone feels they need to keep it a secret, on some level they know it’s wrong. It can be difficult to gauge whether a person is truly doing justice to two full-time jobs. Possibly easier if you’re in a profession where you have measured outputs (or measured inputs, in the case of hourly billing professions like law and accounting).

        I take exception to the idea that “wealth hoarding” is wrong or unethical, however. Everyone should aspire to hoard wealth, aka save money to provide for their future. It’s not a pie where one person’s savings causes others’ savings to be reduced.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          But there’s a bunch of stuff we keep secret from our employers that isn’t wrong. If I’m looking for a new job, I’m not going to tell my current employer, and if necessary, I’ll lie about the time I’m taking to interview else where. I’m not a fan of your line of thinking because it implies that employers have the moral superiority.

          1. Rebel*

            But the time it takes to look for another job and interview elsewhere isn’t comparable to working another job.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              So? Still doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

              I’ve had this argument in prior threads about this issue, so I know I’m not going to convince people, but I’ve had jobs where I 1) was a very high performer and 2) had plenty of time to do a second job. (I was at this job for over five years, never got a bad review, all of the higher ups loved me, and I had good relationships with my coworkers.)

              1. LB33*

                A second full time job? Sorry not buying it. Yeah everyone loved you because you were a rock star there but that doesnt’ translate to work another 40 hour job with no degredation in performance.

                1. GythaOgden*

                  Happy — if you only have enough work for 25 hours per week, perhaps the job should be part time. I work 25 hours a week as well, but I only get paid for that amount.

          2. baseballfan*

            This is not at all a level comparison. If someone is looking for another job, no one would expect them to share that information with their employer, and more importantly, the withholding of information does not adversely impact the employer (If someone is going to change jobs, then they are going to change jobs, regardless of how much they share with their employer about the process of going about it). If they take a vacation day to interview, that shouldn’t be an issue because what someone does with their vacation is their time to do with as they wish.

            If someone is working two full time jobs and actively keeping it a secret from one or both, it’s because they know they are short-changing one or both jobs. They are either producing less work product, or redistributing their work to others, or creating a conflict of interest, or any of a number of other problems. If they are in fact producing 100% of full time work product for both, and not creating any other issues then there should be no reason to want to keep it a secret.

            No implication about employers having moral superiority. Just a statement that if you have to lie about double dipping on your work time, the reason why is probably unethical because you’re leading people to believe what’s not true.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              I just don’t get why people refuse to believe that people can be successful, high performers, without unloading work on other people, but work less than 40 hours.

              1. Rebel*

                That’s someone who should get part-time hours instead.

                Because I don’t understand people who convince themselves that being on the clock for two companies at the same time is harmless.

                1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  Why? If Company X is going to pay me $100,000 a year for a full time position, why should I condense my workload into part time hours (and likely take a pay cut as well)? Why should my high performance negatively impact me?

                2. Mockingjay*

                  I think part of the problem is how we calculate full-time employment. It’s based on a century-old factory model, which eventually distilled to 40 hours, salaried or not.

                  Many jobs these days can be done – and done well – in considerably fewer hours, especially as you gain experience and skills. If a salaried worker can get their job done in 20 hours, why can’t they receive full pay? (Note that it’s commonly acceptable to have salaried employees work more than 40 hours for the same salary; why not the reverse?) For most white-collar occupations, we’re stuck with a 40-hour, butt-in-seat definition for salary, instead of outcome-based results.

                3. Anon4This*

                  I’m with Happy meal with extra happy. As someone who is a high performer, why should I be punished for being more efficient and faster than most people? If my employer had to replace me, they’d probably have to hire two people at full-time salary + benefits. They’re getting a bargain at one full-time salary + benefits for me to just get stuff done.

                  I am very well aware that I work faster and more efficiently than most people. If I’m being super honest, I cannot figure out why it takes people so long to do the things I’m responsible for… but it has my whole career. I shouldn’t have to take a paycut because I am outperforming most other people.

                  I do not have a second job and I do not want one, but could easily do one in the time left over in my day. It gets old to see people constantly insisting that high performers who can do their job in far less time than other people have to be shoving their work down to other people. If I’m delusional and making work for other people, then why are my performance reviews and 360 feedback A+ on all counts? Is it a shared delusion?

              2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                Agreed. In multiple roles I have been in a senior-level exempt/salaried role, consistently working fewer than 40 hours (often a LOT fewer) while also being the highest performing person in the department who takes on the work of others. It happens.

                Many people would require full time hours to do what I do that’s why it’s scoped as a FT job. A company isn’t going to make the role smaller just because of my personal capabilities — they have to keep the FTE in place to preserve that role and salary because it’s what they’ll need in the future.

                Since I don’t like to work more than I have to, I have no interest in picking up a second job. But based on my experience I accept that some people can reasonably pull off two jobs.

                1. Boof*

                  I would agree – it seems possible that some people are just so much more efficient that they can do in 25 hrs / week what another might do in 40 hrs a week, and therefore work 2x jobs for a total of 50hrs/week and be doing a good job at both (if all schedules are totally flexible). If work and capitalism and IDK everything was somehow always pure and quantifiable, it’d be nice if you could just work the one job with 2x the output and make 2x the salary, but I think we know that’s generally not how salary jobs work.

                  Now, the people who are lying about why they are doing a crappy job and saying they’ve got sick relatives etc etc, that is actually extremely unethical, and makes things harder for those who might actually be in such a position. An employer certainly shouldn’t go around demanding medical information, and I suppose could only do it for employees who have “proven” themselves, but we all know that that’s going to introduce a lot of bias (subconscious or otherwise) on who gets extra slack when claiming health problems and who won’t.

              3. Riot Grrrl*

                Obviously details matter here. I do think it’s possible in certain kinds of companies–highly bureaucratic companies, for example–to do just fine in under 40 hours a week. I have a friend who probably puts in–no joke–6 to 8 hours of work per week. He’s never had a bad performance review, and his boss loves him. It’s because that whole department just isn’t very ambitious. They’ve got their work down to a seamless routine and everyone is literally “phoning it in” at this point. Although he has never mentioned wanting to do so, it would be very easy for him to get a second full-time job and probably do fine.

                However, I think you’d readily admit that many, many people’s jobs do not fit that description. Often it’s because people are doing some form of knowledge work that doesn’t have clean boundaries. So the whole idea of being “done” with your work doesn’t really exist. In these types of jobs, the expectation is that if you finish something, you should begin the next project, of which there is always another nearby.

              4. Yorick*

                Less than 40, sure. Two jobs at once, only spending 20ish hours at each? Unlikely that you’ll be a high performer, not unloading work on other people, and available to coworkers/clients/whoever. There’s a reason many jobs are FT instead of PT even though there’s not always 40 hours of intense work to do.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          It can though. I don’t think people mean saving for the future when they talk about “wealth hording,” so much as stuff like creating monopolies that drive smaller firms out of business or outsourcing business to countries where you can pay people ridiculously small amounts of money, thereby enriching oneself at the expense of people living in extreme poverty.

          I don’t agree that anybody should aspire to hoard wealth. Having a few thousand in savings isn’t the same as having billions that you’ve gathered by underpaying employees and driving smaller competitors out of business. If it wasn’t for wealth hoarding, more people would be able to save for their futures, as if wealthy people who owned numerous businesses paid higher wages and employed more people rather than keeping the profits for themselves, more people would be able to save.

          I want to make it clear that I am not criticising business owners in general here or even those who own large businesses, simply those who end up with huge amounts of wealth that are generally hard to amass without somebody else losing out somewhere along the line, whether that is because some of the employees are only earning minimum wage when they could easily afford to pay them more or because they are exploiting people in countries experiencing poverty or because they are deliberately trying to drive their competitors out of business.

          And while I agree that anything secret feels unethical, I don’t think that is necessarily always the case. Sometimes people feel they need to keep something a secret because their boss has an irrational bias against it and might target them if she found out about it, even though they are doing nothing wrong. I don’t think this is always true about working two jobs (I do agree it can be hard to gauge is somebody is truly doing their best at both and I definitely think those who are lying “oh, my work wasn’t up to scratch last week because my child was sick” are doing something unethical) but I think that the idea that if somebody has to lie about something, it must be wrong, isn’t always true when one person has more power than the other. Even without taking social justice stuff into account, people usually try to hide the fact they are looking for a new job and there is absolutely nothing wrong about planning to leave one’s job.

          1. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

            Thank you! You said everything I needed but couldn’t articulate.

            I’m looking for a full-time role right now, and it’s so bloody hard. And I have to admit that gives me quite a bit of bias against those who double up. So many opportunities could elevate more people’s careers. (Looking at you, too, CEOs who take way too much.)

            1. Lily*

              “I’m looking for a full-time role right now, and it’s so bloody hard. And I have to admit that gives me quite a bit of bias against those who double up.”

              My spouse is in a similar situation. It sucks.

              1. Autumn*

                This was what I landed on when I read the article. It doesn’t matter what the overall unemployment rate is, if there is a natural limit of how many accounts receivable people are needed it’s unfair to occupy two positions while someone else is on food stamps because 4 people are taking up six such positions. This isn’t the same as working at Safeway AND Walmart because neither one alone coughs up enough per hour or enough hours to pay the bills.

                Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should.

                Greed is killing us all!

            2. Lydia*

              I can understand this, but there is a flaw in this argument. One, you assume the people doubling up are in your industry, and two, that you would get that job by it simply being available. Neither one of those things is a given. In addition, the number of people who are doubling up are not making that much of an impact on the job market that they’re creating a situation where people are not getting hired for lack of jobs.

          2. Chirpy*

            Yes, wealth hoarding is how we get companies with record profits whose workers (particularly retail and service jobs, where the workers who are the face of the company and have the biggest impact on customer experience) aren’t getting paid enough to live on.

          3. Prospect Gone Bad*

            I think this popular stance leaves out more than half of the story, which is central bank policy. Businesses can be completely ethical, but if the federal reserve keeps interest rates at zero percent for no reason and creates asset bubbles that only benefit the rich – then the completely ethical but rich people and corporations benefit. That’s my synopsis of much of the past few years. Many of these companies “hoarding wealth” were completely passive in the process. Yet too many people are blaming them and not central banks

        3. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Well, the kind of wealth hoarding that billionaires do certainly DOES cause there to be less for everyone else. They manipulate the stock market by keeping most of their employees’ wages very low (and hold much of their wealth in stock) and they sit on all that wealth like Smaug on the pile of gold. It is doing nothing for everyone else and there more in that pile than they can spend in a lifetime but they get to say “whoever does with the most toys wins”.

      3. Happy meal with extra happy*

        But, working people earning low to mid six figures aren’t the primary wealth hoarders.

        1. Wintermute*

          frankly no one working for income is the same as someone hoarding wealth. The people hoarding wealth are the ones being paid, on paper, minimum wage, but getting billions in stock options they borrow against and then pay back from their estate when they die.

        2. AnonForThis*

          I think this is an important distinction. We should not conflate high-net worth individuals, CEOs, and people engaging in financial sleight-of-hand with workers who are putting some extra money toward savings, paying down debt, and simply creating more buffer between themselves and hardship.

          With regard to the letter writer with two six-figure salaries:
          For me, what feels icky is that the individual seems to hold high-enough positions with decision-making authority. I don’t have a problem with the dollars in salary so much as their ability to implement organizational strategy, while instead using their downtime to work for someone else.

          If I think about workers who are *not* in positions of authority within their companies, and are just working hard to get their assignments done satisfactorily, on time, and with no disruptions to teams/colleagues, it doesn’t feel as gross?

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            I so agree. As I wrote elsewhere, my mindset is about how do I fit everything that needs to get done in only 40 hours. The internet has a huge selection bias with people who don’t have a lot of work commenting about how it’s unfair they need to be at work for 40 hours, while people working more hours just comment on this less. Creating the illusion it’s normal for people to have loads of spare time at work.

            If I ever actually did finish my work (never possible) or if my brain is just tired, I do what I consider “soft” tasks like run various reports to look for problems, look for processes that stopped working, or check that people are actually doing their monthly tasks properly. I also follow up with workers on my team to make sure everything is going well, which has always led to them talking for 30+ minutes about various issues and challenges and ideas. There’s always documentation to do or backing up stuff, or conversely purging obsolete files. Or I go through our ticketing systems looking for tickets that never got completed or got put on hold, or maybe became obsolete because the issue solved itself.

            Doing all of the above usually generates more work. If you never do this stuff, you will be lulled into a false sense of everything being OK

            You also IMHO hurt your long term success. I’ve grown my team by adding more work this way. I am good at one job instead of being average at two

            1. I work nights*

              Yeah I mean I’m on the internet pretty frequently, but that’s because I work nights and have no kids, so my prime browsing time happens to correlate pretty heavily with like bored IT workers and the like. And no offense to those folks, but it feels like they just forget that blue-collar people exist. (except when they’re encouraging people to skip college and pick up an apprenticeship somewhere. But the people who suggest this are almost always working cushy white-collar jobs and you can tell because they act like there are absolutely no tradeoffs. Like yeah, I make 80k with no college debt, but if my back goes out I’m so screwed. Homeless with absolutely nothing to fall back on. I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count. Car accident and boom. Not to mention the forced early retirement by dudes in their 40s and 50s. Office workers seem to work until they’re well into their 60s. And that’s not to touch on how bro-ey these environments can be. I’m positive I’ve missed out because I’m not a dude, and I have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously. So I’m sorry, but the trades are not some magic bullet that’s going to fix everything, which people would know if they actually talked to anyone outside of their office, but we’re often too busy working to hang out online, and when we do, it’s often in completely different bubbles.)

              And then people talk about how they don’t actually need to work 40 hours a week, and other people also online at 3 PM agree, and I know I shouldn’t take it so seriously, and I do actually like my job, but yeesh, maybe reflect on your biases. Just because you can doesn’t mean most people can. And you’re not better than anyone else because you figured out how to hack the system because, without schmucks like me, the system wouldn’t exist. (Sorry, apparently I feel more passionately about this than I realized. I don’t actually think you in particular think like this but it irks me that everyone just leaves us out of these discussions.)

              1. virago*

                Damn, this could and should be a post in itself. Your writing is sharp and really perceptive. Every point you’ve made I’ve just been nodding along to, saying, “Yes … yes … yes … yes.”

                I’m an office worker, but I’m not a dude either, and I don’t have time to post on AAM during the day because I work for a newspaper aka a buggy whip factory, so I’m doing the job that three people used to do. I have a couple of chronic conditions, I’m over 50, and I feel pretty vulnerable at this point in my career.

              2. kiki*

                Yeah, I definitely agree that a lot of discussions of work conveniently leave out the people who society actually relies on. What makes me angry is that a lot of the people who do get the cushiness and flexibility are the ones designing systems that rely on underpaid and overworked folks. For every horror story that comes our way about somebody who was told to work through their relative’s funeral, there is a strong chance that somebody 6 levels up who decided to cut back on staffing goes strictly no contact every year during Coachella or whatever.

                And that’s not to say that folks shouldn’t get to set times to go no contact– I 100% think people need time to completely shut out work from their minds– but there’s a lot of “rules for thee but not for me” going on in the working world.

                The pandemic revealed who the essential workers are, who should really be paid more, and who we need more of in the working world. But business leaders are burying their heads in the sand to that truth. Because it would mean that they would be paid less and their employees would be paid more. What we’re doing now is unsustainable, but those with power refuse to admit it.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              Thank you! I write this here every time the topic comes up: I’ve never had a job where “being all done” was remotely possible. There’s always the next project waiting, or something to improve. I do the best I can in the hours I have, which are the hours I’m paid for. I’d have thought most knowledge work and creative work was like that.

          2. Anon for This*

            And clearly I meant mid-low 7 figures or 8 figures! I’m not that blind to financial realities. (Wish we could edit…)

      4. Anon for This*

        That’s pretty much how I feel about people who win the huge (mid-high 6 figures or 7 figures) lotteries but keep their jobs. You have money now – leave that job for someone else. If you can’t find enough things to do with the wealth you now have, start a business and employ more people. (And with the insurance marketplace, it’s hard to plead lack of insurance, which is one reason some newly wealthy people would keep their jobs in the past.)

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Mid-6 figures, like lets say $700k is nowhere enough to quit your job and retire. I for sure wouldn’t. This isn’t wealth. This is just enough to stick in to the IRA and not worry too much.
          I have 20+ years until retirement, and I need to pay for medical insurance. This kind of money isn’t enough.
          I wouldn’t quit my job unless my partner and I won something more like $10mil post tax. Plus, he actually really like what he does.

          1. NPO attorney*

            The lack of health care (and the impossibility of affordable health insurance which actually covers what you need) in the US is the reason I (with a high 6-figure net worth and only a low mortgage as a liability) cannot retire. The physical therapy–covered by my supposedly “good” health insurance–which is necessary for me to walk without pain is more than my mortgage!

            1. RussianInTexas*

              There is a lot of talk how boomers need to retire and let others have their jobs, and half of the boomers are in their early to late 60s, and either are too young to retire, or need health insurance. My dad worked until last year until the age of 69, when he had to retire for health reasons, because of this.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          No. A million is nowhere near enough to live off securely for the rest of one’s life unless one is already at retirement age.

          And start a business? One needs a good business idea and the skills to lead a business, and luck for that to work out. Not everyone is cut out for that. A lot of people will just sink the money into a failing business and end up with nothing a few years later.

          There’s a reason a lot of athletes who were paid astronomical sums go into bankruptcy just a few years after their career ends. Same for lotto winners actually. Living off wealth is not that easy unless one has the structures in place to make it work to start with.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          That’s completely unrealistic. A half-mil or even $1M, especially after taxes and if you take the lump sum, is not enough to never have to work again for the rest of your life. A half-mil won’t even buy you a townhouse in DC (and country living is not for me).

          And my mom would love to talk to you about the affordability of marketplace insurance, as someone who is older and has chronic (even if well-managed) health conditions. They may not be able to deny her coverage now for her pre-existing conditions, but they can make the plans prohibitively expensive or with a lot of exclusions.

        4. Boof*

          I feel like we shouldn’t be in the business of telling people what to do with their money, no matter how much or how little they have. Focus on what is a minimum standard, and how to achieve it. What is the grand scheme difference between making their own business and working for another? They are both doing work and generating things for someone else to benefit from.

      5. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Thinking about the “wealth hoarding” perspective… Supposing you’re doing both jobs adequately, is it worse to have 2 jobs each @ 40k or 90k than to have 1 job @ 200k?

        You can say, well, another person could’ve had the second 40k job, or the second 90k job. But other people could also have had a chunk of the 200k – if that job had been paid less, or if the person being paid 200k had given away some of that wage.

        It’s clearly not the case that the people being paid most are creating most value for the world, because then nurses and teachers and train track maintainers would be getting more than people whose job is to move money on behalf of billionaires.

        I’m not arguing here that having 2 jobs when some people have none is “fair”. I’m saying that the overall system is so unfair that the odd bit of “I’ve got 2 jobs which I’m doing adequately, and you’ve got none” is a pretty minor example of the enormous unfairness of the bigger picture. See for example the number of people who don’t have enough to eat, or don’t have a safe place to live, or don’t have health care, and see for example Elon Musk, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos. I’m sure all three of them are fine with us paying attention to this interesting-because-unusual example :-)

        1. Happy*

          Yeah, I feel like there’s a lot of frustration and ire in the comments directed towards people who are “unfairly” working for more than one crumb, rather than directing that ire towards the people with the real wealth and power, who benefit from this sort of misdirection.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      The only place I see real problems as opposed to “capitalism has programmed me see it as wrong” is if your coworkers are being forced to pick up your slack or clean up your messes.

      There’s many people who think they can successfully multitask/run two jobs but that’s a greater number than the ones who actually can.

  4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    One thing I haven’t seen addressed explicitly about this is brain share.

    It takes a significant portion of my brain to hold all the information I need about the particulars of my work. Could I maintain another compartment of the same size with all the information about the second job?
    * lists of people and their responsibilities
    * strategy, goals, vision
    * procedures
    * technical details
    * information about external parties – vendors, customers,etc (both ephemera and really important stuff)

    Freelancers aren’t expected to know all that for every one of their clients.

    1. Elsie*

      Agree – the idea of working two full time jobs sounds exhausting. I already have enough to keep track of for one full time job. Also, some jobs do require forty hours a week or close to that. And many employers have their employees track their time and account for how much time they spend on different projects

    2. Sssssssssssssssssssss*

      I like to know all that you listed. But that’s me!

      We all have coworkers who could not care less about the company’s goals, tech details, who to contact for a specific question, who is responsible for what, etc. If there’s a sudden need for that info, they ask someone to get what they need.

      And ppl like me in their heads go, “How is it you’ve been here that long and don’t know that about our employer/how that worked?”

      Those with double jobs probably know just enough to get what is needed to get done, done, and the rest truly doesn’t matter.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      That, and just having the “shower thoughts time” to process the tricky bits.

      I once took on a major volunteer project. I worked the same hours as usual, but the moment I left the building, my mind was elsewhere until I was back on the clock. I was shocked by how much less productive I was. Turns out that I needed that idle time to collect my thoughts, such that when I got to work, all I had to do was sit down and do the thing.

    4. TwoJobsNeedTwoBrains*

      Yes, I had two halftime jobs for about 9 months and this mase it much more mentally and enorionally taxing than one full time job.

      Most jobs I’ve had require a minimum of 40 hours per week from (exempt) employees or you were expected to take time off, but most required significantly more than 40 hours to do well. I don’t know how anyone could hold down two full time jobs without double booking which could be seen as a firm of financial fraud.

  5. Winter Weather*

    If multiple CEOs are allowed to hold that position at multiple companies, I don’t see why the average person can’t also have that luxury.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        They get paid a lot to be treated like a big shot and not do much. I do not respect CEO’s or anyone high up and in charge worth a damn.

      2. Wintermute*

        A lot of people have that misconception and it’s rooted in the common fallacy that people tend to assume anything they don’t know the details of must be easy.

        The “CEOs” that have multiple companies they own usually hire operating officers that are CEO-in-all-but-name and just have the title.

    1. Davis*

      I don’t think we should be taking our lead from morons like Elon Musk. If we all behaved like wealthy CEOs the world would be far worse off.

    2. Event coordinator?*

      Ugh this is where I’m torn- I think it’s so much worse for upper level mgmt to double dip than it is for individual contributors or lower level mgmt. Maybe it’s the salary differences, maybe it’s the bureaucratic bloat issue, maybe it’s because I think a lot of C suite folks are actually idiots. I have a double standard here.

      1. Wintermute*

        I think the biggest reason is that when you’re at a certain level you have strategic-level decisionmaking authority. The potential for abusive collusion if someone holds multiple senior director or above positions is just too great.

        Frankly I would be okay with calling it “monopoly in se” as in, it’s automatically a monopolistic practice if the same person is holding multiple high-level positions in different companies that should be competitors or are in the same space.

    3. Wintermute*

      The “CEOs” that have multiple companies they own usually hire operating officers that are CEO-in-all-but-name. The only people who are CEOs of multiple companies own all of them and thus can have whatever title they like, but they’re not actually doing the job of running the company. The might be the top authority for decisions and make the strategic choices, and they may be called at any time in case of emergency or crisis, in some cases they might be involved in hiring of the very top C-suite executives, but the minutae of actually directing the C-suite and executive management, reviewing numbers, dealing with personnel-type issues among executive leadership and hiring the leadership team are done by someone else– someone who can dedicate their entire life to the job.

  6. Earthworms*

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the element of sticking it to the man that’s present here. I’ve had in-person jobs with so much down time that I could’ve easily worked another job simultaneously if I had been remote.
    But it’s interesting that no one has brought up the benefits element of having two full-time jobs. It seems that lately jobs have been plentiful, but full-time jobs with salaries and good benefits have been less so. My concern is then that people are hoarding not only the income, but the opportunity for a benefits-eligible position.

    1. sundae funday*

      On one hand, I agree… on the other hand, playing bit of devil’s advocate, if someone were covered under their spouse’s health insurance, I wouldn’t say it’s wrong of them to take a job that offers really good health insurance, even though they don’t plan to take it, because they’re taking away the benefits from someone else.

      I’m truly 50/50 on this issue so I can very easily be convinced my thoughts are wrong. It gives me joy to think of “sticking it to the man” but also leaves a bad taste in my mouth to be taking a job away from someone else.

      1. Samwise*

        If being covered on your spouse’s insurance is FREE, sure. But usually it costs money every month.

        I don’t see how they are “taking benefits from someone else”. The benefits are attached to the job, for the employee to use or not. Same thing as with PTO — if I never use PTO and don’t intend to use PTO, I’m not taking PTO away from anyone. I’m just leaving it on the table.

    2. Riot Grrrl*

      No man is being stuck to in this scenario. Either the employee is not performing well, which is mostly sticking it to colleagues, customers, and middle managers. Or the employee is doing well, in which case two different corporate entities are benefiting… and doing just fine. Who exactly is receiving the “sticking to”?

    3. Wish I had ONE job*

      As someone who has applied for >150 jobs so far in 2023 and is currently unemployed, I agree. People working 2-3 jobs are greedy and it pisses me off to hear about how awesome they think they are for pulling it off.

    4. Starbuck*

      That’s on companies, though, for being stingy with benefits for part time positions. Or on our society in general, for not providing universal healthcare and at least some national minimum of PTO.

    5. Wintermute*

      You’re assuming that there are other people as qualified and capable of doing those roles though. Jobs are not fungible, someone working two IT admin jobs does nothing to you if you’re not an IT admin of those software suites. Someone working two accounting jobs does nothing to you if you’re not a CPA.

      For instance, some of my co-workers (completely open, on-the-books and with my employer’s knowledge and without any deception involved) work as rather high-paid consultants for another firm in their off hours or freelance. This is because colleges no longer teach classes on IBM mainframe computers, and the median age for people with the appropriate level of skill to be responsible for the administration is creeping up past 65 and many are retiring. Those people aren’t “taking” jobs from anyone– they’re in that position because there are more critical jobs to do than people willing to do them (after all it’s not impossible to GET training, but few people go that route)

    6. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      It’s not hoarding and not really like that.
      First: most are tech positions (think programming or project managers for tech projects) so these aren’t your everyday jobs. Second: Some of the overemployed with the multiple jobs take a benefits J1 but J2 or J3 are contract jobs. I mean , I WISH I could do this, but alas with my job I have too many meetings to pull it off!

      All I can say is there must be a shortage of people in these fields that people are getting hired so easily and/or these people are exceptionally good at what they do.

  7. OE in 2 Js*

    I’ve been working two jobs during the same hours. I’m not a manager and spent so much time waiting on other people to do their jobs just so I could do mine. I tallied it up and spend 4 hours a day actively working so I picked up another job and now I have security during layoffs because I have a solid savings account and no debt. I don’t feel guilty about it. I’m hitting all my KPIs and exceeding expectations on both sides.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I see nothing wrong with this. My job is so slow right now I could theoretically do that if I wanted to, except for having to juggle the sudden meetings if there were two jobs that had sudden meetings.

      The thing I keep wondering about is, what do you put on your resume, that you were juggling two jobs at the same time? Can you even do that or would it just raise too many red flags?

    2. Rebel*

      I wonder if you were a business owner, you’d find it acceptable that employees were working elsewhere on your dime.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Even if you are doing good on paper, you’re mindset is not conducive to long-term success. You’re coming from a place of lack and only planning for bad times. Most successful people try to come from a place of working towards a positive goal and focusing on one thing despite all of the distractions and risk of focusing on one thing. You can easily get yourself into a place where you have savings and a financial cushion by doing one job well, the idea you need two jobs to do it is a false dichotomy. Also it’s almost impossible to hit KPIs in many jobs on 4 hours a day.

      1. DanniellaBee*

        It is very possible to hit your KPIs as an individual contributor on half time if you have exceptional skills and don’t have a meeting heavy job. I see this frequently in tech.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        I don’t think that’s true at all and there are several studies out there that have shown that most people aren’t even putting in 4 actual hours of work.

        1. Prospect gone bad*

          That excludes all those minutes you do to the bathroom, check your phone, get a snack, day dream….someone saying they work four hours means they probably did three once you take out those interruptions

        2. virago*

          You’ve made me think of studies that show that everyone thinks they’re a good multitasker but that most people aren’t, which also applies in this scenario.

      3. Sarah*

        “You can easily get yourself into a place where you have savings and a financial cushion by doing one job well, the idea you need two jobs to do it is a false dichotomy”

        Well that’s quite a privileged thing to say. There are lots of hard-working people out there working their tails off, doing great work, and who are unable to have savings and a financial cushion.

        I’m happy for you that you can avoid working “from a place of lack”, but not all of us are so fortunate.

        1. OE in 2 Js*

          Agreed about that privilege comment. I don’t have that privilege of getting anywhere with one income. This over working is a means to an end to get ahead and get a master’s degree (to open the door to higher paying roles) and own a home. I am adhd and autistic so it’s really easy to devote myself to this lifestyle and do it well. There are zero external distractions beyond the needs of my child (no friends, hobbies, expensive habits, etc). I also have no generational wealth to fall back on when my parents die. It’s up to me to build enough while I still can afford a home in a safe neighborhood and pay for the needs of my medically complex child. And truthfully I’ve been in the corporate world long enough to know how to draw boundaries so my accomplishments aren’t rewarded with a bigger workload. I can easily juggle these two jobs and not worry about it. When it’s time to look for a new job, I never mention J2. It’s like it never happened but it’s so similar to J1 that it’s not like I’m missing out on anything that could boost my resume.

      4. Anonomite*

        No, you can’t. Why do you think the rate of savings is so low in the US? Because nobody is really making enough to save, not because the world just wants to spend, spend, spend.

  8. A Pound of Obscure*

    Gotta love the person who declares how conscientious they are, right before they explain how they hide their dual employment from their employers and how they understand that doing so is a fireable offense. Oh, yeah, you’re an employer’s dream.

  9. Former Retail Lifer*

    I don’t know if I hate it because it’s unethical or I hate it because I’m jealous that there’s no way I could ever do this with my job. Granted, I don’t always work 40 hours at my job (see my posts here for proof), but I do way too much work to be able to take on another entire job. The lower you are on the ladder, the more you could benefit from a second job but the time you have available to actually DO IT is far less. Elon Mush runs three companies and Tweets all day, but his employees certainly don’t have that kind of time on their hands.

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        I kind of like Mush lol :)

        Also relate to your feeling. I’m struggling to keep up with one underpaid job so hearing people brag about how they’re so awesome they can work two overpaid jobs is eye roll worthy.

        It would be nice if the employer caught on to the fact the job wasn’t actually as demanding as the double dipping employee made it out to be, and redistributed some of the hours and pay to the lower ranking people whose dedication and flexibility made the scenario possible in the first place.

    1. Caterpillar Kid*

      I’m in the same boat. Not to mention the lower you are on the ladder, the more the people above you tend to micromanage your work! I think ultimately I’m just upset that the jobs that pay the most are actually competitive and few and far between (there’s usually only one director of whatever at a company with an entire team of lower-level whatevers beneath them) and seem to require the least amount of actual work.

    2. Davis*

      I don’t think we can interpret what Musk does as running anything. He’s just rich. He doesn’t do anything.

  10. Anon this time*

    I work two full time remote jobs but both employers are aware. One is M – F, 7 to 3, the other thursday to Sunday 2 to 12 pm. I’m usually completed all my work for the first job well before 3, I just stay available in case something pops up or someone has a question.
    These are both $35,000 yr jobs, so I’m definitely not wage hoarding. If I could find a higher paying job in my area, I’d go back to one, but right now with the cost of food and housing going insane, two jobs is how I’m staying afloat. I just figured if I can work full time and go to school full time (which I’ve done for the past two years) holding two jobs isn’t that much of a stretch.

    1. Caterpillar Kid*

      See, I have way more understanding for a situation like this – your jobs don’t compete with each other and you’re doing a ton of work! It’s harder to stomach someone working two 40-hour jobs at the same exact time, doing 20 hours or less of work for each of them, and raking in director-level salaries for both. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to do, just that the system is broke.

    2. Generic Name*

      Honestly, your situation lands so much differently than a person simultaneously and secretly working two $200,000 positions. Your companies know you work two jobs, and your hours do not overlap. Plus, your two jobs add up to about the median income.

  11. Nameless for this*

    I can’t prove it but we definitely have one of these. (He’s terrible at his job even if he doesn’t have a second one.)

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      But in a case like this, he should be managed out for being terrible at his job, not for having a second job. You have to manage the performance, not necessarily the cause for it.

  12. kiki*

    I don’t think doing this is necessarily unethical, but it takes a special confluence of factors and/or a uniquely talented individual to make it work. And a lot of the people trying this either don’t have the right set up or aren’t the right kind of person.

    Ultimately, I think managers need to ensure they have clearer expectations and protocols for their employees. I feel like managers waste a lot of time trying to figure out whether somebody is working two jobs or not when it’s been clear that the employee hasn’t been doing their job well for months and should have been let go previously. It shouldn’t make a tremendous difference whether somebody is working two jobs or playing video games.

    1. hbc*

      I agree, there’s tons of people who *think* they’re doing really well working 20-30 hours at a full-time job, but people notice eventually. And at least the people slacking off to play video games will be able to drop the controller and jump into a sudden work emergency–it’s a lot harder to jump out of a critical meeting at Company A because something at Company B blew up.

      Usually, they’re just taking advantage of the fact that their job output is harder to measure and/or a manager who isn’t capable of paying attention like they should. But coworkers often notice that Fergus is often unreachable when his calendar says he’s free or routinely takes longer to turn around quick things than he should.

      1. higheredadmin*

        EXACTLY! It’s the co-workers who are picking up the slack who notice it. Like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine.

  13. Millie's Mom*

    Articles like this, and the comments, makes me realize just how privileged most of the readers are. It’s SUCH a first-world “problem”, and it’s a little disheartening, honestly. I’m not against “sticking it to the man”, but – I mean, that’s not really what this is, mostly. If you’re doing 2 jobs and doing them well, or if you’re dong 2 jobs and not doing them well but aren’t getting caught b/c that’s the baseline – neither of those things are harming a corporation. I find it puzzling that people even see it that way. Maybe it’s because I’m not in that class of people.

    1. Rebel*

      It’s unethical to be working for two entities on the same clock. “First-world problem” doesn’t have anything to do with it.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        I think that depends on whether you are considering that the company is paying you to be available on the clock for a set number of hours OR to accomplish a certain amount of work within that hour-based timeframe. If it’s the former, than I would agree it’s unethical. If it’s the latter, then I don’t.

        Of course, many consider and assume the former to be the expected standard, but it can be worth a discussion about whether it’s true.

    2. Fishsticks*

      I think it’s interesting to see people talking about corporations as if they have particular feelings about morality or ethics when they aren’t people at all. Granted, the US government thinks they are, but still.

    3. kiki*

      Yeah, I am of the opinion that I don’t really care about corporations (because they certainly don’t care about me!). But having multiple jobs isn’t really sticking anything to anyone? Acting like it is is making people feel like they’re doing something big, when they really aren’t.

      These folks may have found a way to “get theirs” in the convoluted work system of today, but they’re not actually taking some big stance.

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        Yes, there’s a weird disconnect in these comments. If people can do such a good job they only need half the hours and aren’t found out then the company isn’t losing out at all, no one’s sticking anything to anyone.

        I couldn’t give a toss about the companies involved, I care about how this objectively makes society worse. Either it’s people chasing greed and widening income inequality (if the jobs are individually well-paid) or it’s creating the impression that a non-living wage is a living wage thanks to the pretense of only working one job (if they aren’t).

  14. DEJ*

    I was just reading about how a lot of these people who were overemployed were tech workers – I wonder how many people who were overemployed got caught up in layoffs? Maybe fear of layoffs is exactly the reason to have a second job.

    1. anon222*

      Tech worker here. I’ve been laid off 3 times in 2 years. Many folks who I know are OE do so BECAUSE of how insecure the sector has been over the past few years. Folks with 10+, 15+ years of tenure at companies like Google are getting laid off via email. Many more folks (at lesser-known startups) are getting laid off via email with little or no severance.

      I became homeless late last year after exhausting all forms of gov assistance while ruthlessly job searching. More recently, I received two offers within a few days of each other and took both. Now I have 2Js. I don’t particularly care if it’s ethical or not. It’s allowing me to build up a safety net and keep a roof over my kid’s head.

    2. kiki*

      I think fear of layoffs does drive some people to do this, especially in tech. But the more people that do this and get caught, the more employers will decide that staffing should be cut because “so many people aren’t even working a full day.” It definitely can help individuals with the affects, but managers also end up using it as justifications for layoffs.

  15. soshedances1126*

    I didn’t have a lot of thoughts on this…until my partner lost his job at the end of November, very unexpectedly, and is now having an absolute bear of a time trying to find work. He’s having very limited success with even getting interviews, never mind getting an offer, and we’re surviving on my one (decent for my field but not spectacular) nonprofit salary. And we can’t afford to put him on my health insurance. It’s been challenging and difficult, and we really need him to get a job. And soon, especially because of the lack of insurance. Knowing that people are out there making huge double salaries for working two jobs at once (and misleading their companies about it) while my partner is in desperate need of just one job with a decent salary and benefits isn’t sitting super well with me at the moment. (And yes, “jobs are everywhere”- except they’re not if you’re looking for a specific mid level or higher management role and need to be making at least somewhat close to what you previously were making. It’s not that easy unless you work for peanuts in retail or food service with no benefits and we just can’t make that work.)

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      Thank you. “Jobs are everywhere” is misleading. Restaurant, retail, call center, entry-level admin jobs, yes. Plentiful! A job that can pay rent/mortgage, expenses, and let you save a little? Few and far between and the competition is FIERCE.

    2. Lacey*

      Yup. I know a bunch of people at a company that just laid off most of their marketing team – they’re having the worst time finding work.

      And sure, they could go work at the grocery store, but that’s not exactly their field.

    3. Samwise*

      Are the people who are working two jobs, working two jobs that your husband could do?

      That’s the thing. Someone else has two jobs and your husband has zero jobs, but that doesn’t mean the person with two jobs has a job that your husband would have if only the two-job person had only one job. Because of the kind of work or experience or location or…a myriad of factors. I’m not dissing your husband here — I’m just suggesting, there may be other reasons why two-job-people are not in fact taking anything away from one-job or no-job people.

      1. Rebel*

        But it stands to reason that at least some are holding two down jobs, one of which is depriving someone somewhere. As such, I don’t understand splitting hairs.

        1. soshedances1126*

          Right. These specific people may not be working jobs that my partner could do, but the point still stands that they’re working two jobs, one of which another person that really needs work could be doing (and likely more effectively, since they wouldn’t be splitting their time between two jobs under the table).

          1. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

            I’m in the same boat as your husband, and I find I’m really frustrated with two-full-timers, too. Really rooting for him to find good work soon! I don’t give a flip about the ethics vis-a-vis the employer, but I do care about screwing the average worker out of a valid chance.

    4. Chirpy*

      Yeah, my store is desperately understaffed, but nobody wants those retail jobs. And rightly so, corporate won’t do a thing to actually make it an attractive job.

    5. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      THIS! We’ve done everything possible looking for better work, including improving education, moving, doing all the resume things, changing fields, networking, hundreds and hundreds of applications, and moving farther still just to afford both rent and healthcare. To me, hoarding two jobs is just so selfish, when that healthcare can be used for someone else and their whole family, those benefits go wasted, those PTO hours go wasted between two jobs… I get that it’s hustling culture but damn I wish I could break past €30K with a master’s and my husband’s field would pick up. Like, I get it, you can be a writer, a singer, an actor, but when you’re a tech-cert individual with the same skills as someone else, you’re literally depriving someone else. Some people need to get hobbies instead of more jobs.

  16. Beans*

    I’m also thinking about the conflict of interest piece of this. If an employer doesn’t know about the second position, it rests solely on the judgement of the employee as to whether a conflict exists. I can imagine a lot of companies might not have the same idea of what constitutes a conflict that the employee does, and if everything is done in secret they have no chance to evaluate it for themselves.

    1. Lacey*

      Yes, but companies are also likely to say there’s a conflict where there isn’t one.

      I worked for a company that stopped people from having any side businesses because whatever they were offering could be an official offering of our company. That wasn’t an official policy, but it always worked out that way.

      1. Reality Biting*

        I mean, how true was that though? If it was, say, a heating and cooling company, I could maybe see them saying that you couldn’t do a plumbing business on the side. But would they have stopped you from, say, selling hand-made jewelry or wedding photography on the side?

        1. Lacey*

          Yeah, if one of us had, had skills THAT far outside of what we use professionally I suppose they wouldn’t have hassled us about it.

          But this is more like… say it’s a photography business, but when the owner sees that you also do illustrations they say, “Now we also offer custom illustrations because you have that skill. And then a year later they say, “You can’t continue your freelance illustration business because that’s a conflict with what we do here”

      2. Beans*

        Fair point, Lacey. I guess I was thinking more of the case where someone is working two full-time positions. I’d assume that to get employed in both positions, they would need to be fully qualified to do both jobs, and I feel like it would be likely that there would be a fair amount of overlap in skill sets and qualifications. That would make a true conflict more likely, I would think. And I agree, banning an employee from selling crafts on Etsy when their regular employment is something totally unrelated sounds more like lazy rule-making than a true conflict of interest.

        1. Lacey*

          It would depend a lot of the business I think. For example, I’m an in-house graphic designer. I also do freelance design. My current employers knows this and is supportive. Because there’s just no overlap at all in the client base.

          And I could be an in-house designer for multiple companies without it ever being a problem, especially if those companies were in unrelated fields. Say, one is a bank and the other is a hardware store.

          I can absolutely see where it could end up being a conflict and a problem for the company. I just know from experience that some companies are very likely to over-estimate the conflict until confronted with a lawyer (not mine, a coworker’s).

  17. Millie Mayhem*

    My husband considered doing this (taking on a second job) when he was job searching this past summer. He had been with his current employer for several years, was fully remote, and was bored out of his mind despite asking for more projects/responsibility.

    He received a new job offer in August and was seriously thinking about just keeping his old job on the side as well, but in the end decided he didn’t want to start off being dishonest with his new employer from the get go. His new gig had him at a tech company, and he ended up getting laid off in December. He really regretted not keeping his original job when he lost the new one so quickly (and without warning).

  18. Berto*

    It’s time to do away with this nonsense charade that a full-time job is some sort of commitment. Jobs are transactional and the process of getting a job is insane. I was clear with my current employer that I have a “side hustle” and that I need that income to survive.


    How about those companies who are perpetually understaffed and make their employees work the equivalent of two jobs for single job pay? Why is that ok?

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Very good point there. Because employers can do literally whatever they want because they have all the power, I would guess.

    2. Maple Bar*

      It is interesting how we’re all supposed to buck up and take one for the team when it flows this way, but when it flows the other way it’s “What about the ethics?? What about the brain share??”

    3. Huh?*

      I don’t think anyone is saying that’s OK. Whether or not it’s OK for an employer to overwork its employees is a totally separate issue. One has nothing to do with the other.

    4. Meow*

      My husband works at an MSP. The company he worked at before outsourced to them and they rebadged him. At first he mostly only did his old job, but little by little they gave him more clients. He is literally working what used to be 5 jobs, probably more, the only difference is that it is considered ethical because his employer arranged it (he is of course only being paid one job’s worth of salary). So I don’t see why people get all up in arms about working two jobs at once being unethical. Why do you care? It just makes me laugh that people finally have the guts to do what employers have been making them do for the past 20 years, but getting all the benefit instead of the employer.

    5. Distracted Librarian*

      THIS! At one point in my career, I was doing the work of more than 2 full-time positions–for no additional pay (of course). My boss didn’t seem overly concerned about whether one of those roles was distracting from the other. I just had to make it work.

      I’m not saying I think having 2 full-time jobs is entirely ethical, but the key point IMHO is at the end of the article: “if they’re going to be overworked, they’re going to benefit from it.”

      1. Starbuck*

        But they do it, and the only recourse you can have is to leave (lose/lose). How many letters have we read here from someone who’s manager or peer(s) left, and their work was added on with no additional compensation?

        I get the bitterness from the unemployed worker’s side, people looking for jobs who can’t find them, but it’s very difficult to find any sympathy for an employer complaining about this.

  20. Lacey*

    If I could find another job with as much down time as my current one, I think I could work them both at once and not be a problem for anyone.

    And I’m not paid market rate in this job. I don’t think I’d feel like I was just being greedy.

    But, it seems very stressful. And it doesn’t seem like something I should have to juggle in order to make a decent salary.

  21. Milfred*

    People have been working office 9-5 jobs and then 6-10 evening jobs (not to mention weekend jobs) forever.

    The fact that they can work from home and “interleave” those jobs (an hour here, an hour there, an hour here) is an interesting development.

    Is it unethical? I’m not sure.

    If you are salaried and getting paid for doing a job (and not a specific number of hours) and are getting the job done?

    If you’re not getting the job done it’s a different story.

    1. Reality Biting*

      If you are salaried and getting paid for doing a job (and not a specific number of hours) and are getting the job done?

      As people frequently point out, however, the notion of “done” is extremely malleable in many (most?) knowledge-based, WFH type jobs. If your job is to design a particular process, for example, you may be able to whip up a version of that in 30 minutes or you might take 6 hours to do it. It’s not hard to see how working two jobs would make you highly motivated to whip out the 30-minute version.

      Now someone is going to tell me how the 30-minute version might be better than the 6-hour version. Ok, got it. Yes, there are always outliers and exceptions. But I think we can agree that in general when more time is spent on a work product, that product tends toward being better.

    2. Elsie*

      Working multiple jobs is not necessarily unethical but it is unethical to work two jobs during the same hours. You’ve committed to your employer to be available during a certain period of time and you are breaking that commitment if you agree to work for two employers during the same hours. Availability matters for most jobs- there are meetings, urgent requests, etc.

  22. Wilbur*

    Oddly enough, an article from the Microsoft CEO popped up on my newsfeed. He was advocating that we should be happy that AI will replace some white collar jobs due to the global labor shortage. Not sure how we can have made huge gains in productivity in the last few decades but still have a labor shortage.

    1. Caterpillar Kid*

      I think the labor shortage is really a “people who don’t need or want to work for a living wage” shortage. Like wow, I can’t imagine why this $11-per-hour job with no benefits is still vacant! Nobody must want to work anymore!

      1. Chirpy*

        Yup, exactly. Stores are short staffed because they only offer half a living wage, and people are done putting up with that.

  23. Marie*

    On some level, aren’t the people working two full time jobs “winning” capitalism? Exploiting the system that exploits the rest of us all day every day?

    Making twice as much money in the same amount of time is something that companies are praised for- think about it. If a company suddenly found a way to double profits while keeping time commitment and performance more or less the same, that’d be huge! Stakeholders would be so happy! Newspaper headlines!

    Yet, when WE, those of us who are supposed to be bottom of the ladder and happily exploited day in and day out, find a way to game the system (which, much to Milfred’s point, isn’t any different from having a 9-5 and also a 6-10), then “Oh no won’t someone think of the poor companies who are getting fleeced!”

    If I had the ability and drive to do two jobs in the same amount of time as one job, and hence make twice as much money in half the time, and thus be faster about reaching my financial goals and retiring early, HELL yes I’d do it. Who is it hurting? We can hand-wring about how “theoretically” it’s “taking away a job from someone else” but at the same time, can we say that definitively?

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      The other issue with the “taking a job away from someone else” is it also gets into the argument of who is more deserving of a (high) paying job.

      1. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

        Not really – I see two full-time, well-paying jobs, it only makes sense that two people should benefit from it rather than one. It’s not saying Person A deserves more than Person B, it’s saying that two people deserve the same fair shake instead of one taking up both.

    2. Rebel*

      I think it’s important to willing to be on the receiving end of one’s own convictions, so if you are willing to employ someone full-time and know that during that time that person also is working for a competitor, and you’re fine with the arrangement, well, then, off you go…

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        Not for a competitor, no. Nor for a client or a vendor. Conflicts of interest exist and keeping such an arrangement secret risks creating one. The employee usually can’t know all the potential conflicts their second job may create.

        I do think disclosure is key here. Employers could help by setting clear expectations at time of hire.

        From a comment above by IbsenTakesTea: “I think that depends on whether you are considering that the company is paying you to be available on the clock for a set number of hours OR to accomplish a certain amount of work within that hour-based timeframe. If it’s the former, than I would agree it’s unethical. If it’s the latter, then I don’t.”

        I agree.

        So, if an employer tells you straight out they expect your full attention and availability even during your down time, then you have to give them that. If they tell you they don’t care how many or few hours you work or your availability, they just want a specific amount of work done without overtime, then you’re free to do other work at the same time.

        But companies that follow the second method still need to know about potential conflicts. Such a company should both allow outside jobs and require disclosure of any outside work so it can decide if there’s a conflict.

        In either case, keeping it a secret creates a potential for conflict.

    3. Wish I had ONE job*

      Yes, we CAN say that definitively.
      Using round numbers to make my point:
      If there are 1000 FT, benefitted positions available in a certain field, if everyone holds one job, 1000 people are employed.
      If 200 people decide they can double dip and work 2 FT jobs, then only 800 people are employed, leaving 200 fully qualified people out of a job.
      You can dismiss thos people (which include me, btw) as “theoretical” but I assure you we are very, very real.
      But hey enjoy gaming the system while I lose my home.

  24. Davis*

    Companies need to pay better if they don’t want people working multiple jobs. Centuries of exploiting workers is catching up to them. Business owners can get bent.

    1. Bit o' Brit*

      How on earth would masking the problem (by pretending to only work the one underpaying job) do anything to change that?

    2. Rebel*

      Do you mean multiple jobs on the same clock? Because that’s the topic here, not working multiple jobs with hours that don’t conflict.

    3. virago*

      How does this scenario apply to 1 person holding down two 6-figure jobs for two different employers on the same clock?

  25. Elanath*

    I read the article and ruminated on it for a bit, and my takeaway is this…Questions of whether this is ethical or not are red herrings to the larger ethical problem that exists in the negative space of this story. To wit, the extent to which wages and salaries have not kept pace with both inflation and worker productivity. There is no objective, handed-down-from-on-high reason the majority of U.S workers should be struggling financially. It’s a result of a human-created economic system that has been gamed the last, oh, 45-ish years to profit oligarchs at the expense of the majority of the population.

    Folks upthread are mentioning–rightly–the common trend of expecting one person to do more and more (without an in increase in salary)–societally, systemically, that’s hecked up. Others talk about the amount of downtime in many office jobs (that may ‘allow’ working two full time jobs). What if, commensurate with the huge increases in productivity we’ve seen in the last several decades, income had kept pace with inflation, and workdays were shortened (many studies show there is no loss–and may be a gain–in productivity going from a 40 hour work week to a 32-35 hour work week). We’d have a better standard of living and a better quality of life.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think the “increase in productivity” thing is such an interesting point because it can mean so many different things and thus can be totally skewed based on your agenda. For example, I manage a few systems that generate data that people used to do by hand. Yes, automating it has increased productivity. But the people I hire now didn’t cause that productivity, the people we paid over the years increased the productivity. and they benefited for it by being paid above average salaries over the year. But if I hire Joe Schmo in 2023 to do work in one of the databases, there is no reason to pay him for the increased productivity overall, unless he actually contributes to it by improving processes even more. Otherwise, you’re basically paying people for nothing.

      “There is no objective, handed-down-from-on-high reason the majority of U.S workers should be struggling financially”

      I completely agree but the thing everyone forgets or doesn’t want to address is that this is mostly a monetary and political and central bank issue at this point. You can’t really pay people to outpace asset bubbles that are created by, for a lack of a better word, money printing, but also artificially suppressed housing prices. I’m living through this now personally because I want to move but can’t afford it, so believe me, I’m not siding with evil oligarchs. But if the federal reserve makes interest zero when the real rate wants to be 3% or so, and it causes a housing bubble quickly over a year as people over-borrow money and reset prices in the process, who should I be mad at? Should I be mad at my job for not handing me $50K more per year that they don’t have (we’d need to raise prices to give me that raise – the dreaded wage/price spiral), or be mad at, you know, the actual cause of the problem (the cost of living caused by asset bubbles caused 95% by the federal reserve?)?

      1. Starbuck*

        “Otherwise, you’re basically paying people for nothing.”

        Yes! Let’s! What is the overall good of these productivity benefits if we don’t all benefit? What are we really working for – a society where everyone needs to be employed 40+ hours a week in wage labor to survive? Do we all really need to be doing that, for the rest of time? With all the technological improvements, we should be working less and getting more. But all you have to do is look up to see why not… the resources are here in the world.

  26. Caterpillar Kid*

    Just musing on my own job situation. I get paid a salary, so in theory I’m being paid for my work rather than my hours, but I still am very much expected to work 40 hours per week at least. There is always more work to do, so there’s no such thing as getting it all done in 20 hours and working another job – there is no “getting it all done,” the work never ends. I would essentially have to pretend it’s taking me 40 full hours to do half the work if I wanted to work another job, which does feel unethical to me. But maybe that just means I should be getting paid hourly instead?

    1. Jessica*

      Yeah, if your job is finite and you’re genuinely doing it all in 20 or 30 hours or whatever, that seems like a different situation. My (salaried) job is a bottomless pit of work, and while I suppose one could set standards for adequate performance, I definitely feel like I’m also being paid for full-time effort. Of course that probably just reflects how much employers with the infinite-work jobs have chosen to understaff. :-(

    2. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      Exactly. I’m good at my knowledge worker job – and there is always more work to do, I, just stop at 40-ish hours every week. I may do one piece faster than the new grad, but the new grad is kind of implicitly expected to be slow and learning. New grads are kind of partly hired to make sure there’s experienced engineers in 10 years, and they’re expected to be learning.

  27. Momentarily anonymous*

    I manage a remote worker and I know (but those above me don’t) that he has a 2nd job. His job on my team is hourly; he has some issues with work product that I’m addressing on their own merits, but I believe that he’s working the hours he says he is. His other job is salaried and he says it doesn’t take him anywhere near 40h to do it, which is why he’s finding this sustainable.

  28. Charles-Henri Sanson*

    My take away from this is people who make 6+ figures need more to do to earn their salaries.

    There are people busting their butts working 3 jobs barely making rent and then there are these…. people pulling in 400k(!!!) barely working two jobs.

    1. Millie's Mom*

      I have to agree. I know it’s more nuanced than that, but that’s kind of my takeaway, honestly. I called it a “first world problem” upthread, which isn’t exactly accurate, but it feels like it. But America was set up for this – find the loopholes, get what you can get, grab your own piece of the pie! At some point, this type of system will fail (some would say it already has), but I guess we’re pushing it to see how far we can take it, and how fast.

    2. virago*

      A voice of reason!

      I work 50-plus hours a week and earn $50,000 a year at a remote job that drains my mental resources. I do not have an ounce of energy left to take on another project when I am done for the day.

      I’ll trade! One of “these … people pulling 400k(!!!) barely working two jobs” can give one of their undemanding jobs to me.

      In the apparently capacious free time provided by the remaining undemanding job, they can tackle my job (and its ever-expanding workload of angry right-wing customers).

    3. Grammar Penguin*

      I think that’s part of my problem with it. It’s an option only available to a rarefied class of highly-paid people. Fine if you really can do it ethically, I guess, but bragging about it, pretending your sticking it to The Man somehow, or claiming necessity when the income from one of the jobs is 5x the national average *household* income? Yeah, they should really just shut up and take the money.

    4. Part-timer*

      This is what bothers me. I work part-time, and honestly accomplish as much and have almost all the same responsibilities as many of my full-time coworkers. And yet, I don’t get paid full-time.

    5. Anon4This*

      I think that the type of work that earns higher salaries is also just a different kind of work. It tends to be less about doing a thing for a certain amount of time or desk coverage and more about organizing and accomplishing things, having/applying specialized knowledge, and coming up with ideas/strategy – some people do that very quickly and without much effort and others do not.

      I also don’t think the vast majority of people with six-figure jobs are able to (or want to) work two of them, and the ones who do are notable because it’s not the norm. And the ones busy with their one job are less likely to be talking about it here or on reddit.

  29. Michelle Smith*

    I do not care if people do this, as long as they aren’t making my life miserable by making me pick up the slack. No one is obligated to only work one job so someone else can have one. That makes zero sense to me, and I say that as someone who took 2 years to find their last job. I also don’t care about wealth hoarding. I spend my energy on those in the billionaire class not paying their fare share, not those who are making low six figures to save for retirement and provide for their family.

    The fact for me is that I barely have the energy to do my one full-time job, so I definitely don’t want a second. I lean r/antiwork – I don’t think *anyone* should have to work to live. None of us asked to be born, after all. So again, I think that my energy should not be spent railing against people who are playing the capitalism game as a worker and being successful at it. My energy is better spent agitating against the capital owners and the oppressive capitalism system we have that ties people’s ability to obtain housing and medical care to their labor in creating wealth for others.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      The thing is, they aren’t playing the game. They are signing up to play the game and then dropping the ball on it. Just taking up a job someone else could have is not “playing the capitalism game.” I made the mistake of commenting on antiwork and got loads of vitriol that was incommensurate with what I wrote. I first stupidly thought it was for people who had a set of beliefs but wanted to improve but over time I realized many had bad ideas because they’ve never worked the type of jobs they complain about at all. I now picture it as a bunch of 20 year olds complaining about corporate America as if they have loads of experience in it, despite many revealing through their comments that they barely have any work experience

    2. Rebel*

      Okay – but the point here isn’t working more than one job; rather, the point is working more than one job on the same clock.

          1. Grammar Penguin*

            I wonder how many salaried engineers at Tesla or Twitter are working second jobs and how he feels about that?

    3. virago*

      If Person A has two 6-figure jobs, doesn’t it make it harder for Person B to find one 6-figure job so that they can “save for retirement and provide for their family”?

  30. Maple Bar*

    The only reason this bothers me is that, as we know, the business world will absolutely punish a million workers proactively if they think it stops them losing ten bucks off one. I’m afraid that the gains made in remote work will get eroded by punitive overcorrection by managers and companies looking to rat out the specter of a mythical two job remote worker, when at best it’s a wildly rare phenomenon. On top of that, it will be lower-level workers who get cracked down on, not the people who are actually most likely to be pull this off, which are much more senior folks who are less likely to be individual contributors.

    Though my solution to that is not for people to not do it, it’s for them to not tell anyone, especially not journalists, about it! Shush and don’t ruin it for everyone, folks, come on! Sorry Alison.

    I’m actually thinking now, I wonder how long it will be before we see the first article about someone who thinks their in-person employee is working a remote job from the office?

    1. Caterpillar Kid*

      This is a good point. It’s the perfect storm for managers/higher-ups who already got paranoid when many jobs went remote. This is probably their worst nightmare and stories like these will likely justify (in their minds) the use of obnoxious monitoring software on everyone in the company.

      1. kiki*

        Yes! While I think there has been an uptick of this happening and it’s worth noting and having some coverage on, I think a lot of the media coverage on the phenomenon overstates the prevalence of this. There aren’t any solid numbers collected on this phenomenon yet (to my understanding) and a lot of articles are going off of the number of members of r/Overemployed or the number posts in it. While there are some genuine posters on Overemployed, there are a lot of folks who use Reddit for fan-fiction.

        This isn’t super common and most people trying this are actually quite bad at it (even if they think they’re pulling it off flawlessly)

  31. Potted Plant*

    I suspect a new colleague is doing this and management appears woefully ignorant. This person refuses to do most of what is asked of them outside a very narrow set of tasks, is often unavailable on short notice, “forgets” extensive training information, and does a shoddy job on the few tasks they’re willing to complete. They have refused all LinkedIn requests to connect and have not updated their freelance profile to indicate they have taken on a full time role despite being active on the platform.

    As much as I’m on board with sticking it to The Man, poorly executed, this kind of juggling of jobs ultimately just sticks it to the person’s colleagues.

    1. Caterpillar Kid*

      I’m wondering if this happens more than the people themselves even realize. It’s just so hard for me to fathom a job where there truly is a finite amount of work to be done in a 40-hour week that is expected to take 40 hours and there’s a reward for getting it all done faster. Even if you finish all of your tasks, aren’t you expected to look for more to do? Like helping coworkers, continuing education, researching how to improve processes, etc?

      I suppose you can just… not do those things, but in my experience I’ve only ever been exposed to jobs that expect you to be either working or thinking about work for 40 hours per week no matter how many tasks you accomplish. Maybe the view is different at the top of the ladder!

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I agree. After about 7 or so years (now a bit > year 20) in corporate America, my mind shifting to thinking what I could prioritize, delegate, or postpone, so I’d ONLY do 40 hours a week. Meanwhile much public discourse online is from people who apparently don’t have a lot of work to do or wide enough areas of responsibility so don’t think this way, so can’t fathom how unethical it is that someone in let’s say a six figure job with a wide area to watch is doing the bare minimum and letting stuff sit, because they’ve apparently only been in jobs where you have finite work and then empty time

      2. Potted Plant*

        That’s always been the expectation that I’ve encountered in my salaried jobs, and I’m happy to deliver as long as the results and contribution are recognized and valued. Having a colleague get away with phoning it does not signal that the extra effort is valued, and I’m tempted to override my own sense of integrity in response to the unfairness of it.

  32. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I am dying to know how the tax returns for such people look. For example, my job gives an HSA contribution that, if doubled, would greatedly exceed the legal limit of $3,650. So if I had two jobs like this, what would I do? Ask one to stop contributing so much? And what about plain old income tax? Each job is taking out too little, since when you add the job together, you’ll have much more dollars in a high tax bracket.

    1. Megan*

      You probably would only have health insurance and an HSA through one of the jobs, and decline benefits through the other. Not sure about taxes though.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      For taxes, you can fill out your W-4 form to have extra money taken out of each paycheck (above what the standard deductions for your situation are). Some people do this so they can be sure they will get a refund at the end of the year, some people use this as a savings mechanism (“I’ll take an extra $50 out of every paycheck and after I file my taxes I’ll have enough money to pay off a debt/buy a new computer/etc.”). I think that enough people do this that it would not raise any eyebrows if someone working two jobs on the sly were to have extra money deducted from their paycheck at one or both of their jobs.

      1. Squidhead*

        Or make estimated tax payments quarterly, the way you would if you were 1099’d or self-employed.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      The IRS see people with multiple income streams all the time, taxes aren’t an issue. And just don’t use the health insurance at the second job.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      These are total non-issues.

      The IRS does not care how many W-2s (or 1099s) you have, they just add up the money and taxes paid and figure out how much you owe them or they owe you (after deductions, credits, etc.). Tons of things throw off your tax withholding – interest on savings, investment income, bonuses, lottery winnings – this is why you file at the end of the year, to square up with the fed. If you’re under, then you add extra withholding to your W-4 or make estimated quarterly payments.

      Insurance is easy – I only have one job, and I decline my company health plan because my spouse works for the federal government, which offers much lower-cost health insurance because their risk pool is about 100x as large as my employers’. This is typically just a matter of ticking the “decline” box on new hire paperwork or at the annual open enrollment period.

    5. 1098, 1099, Whatever*

      I do taxes. I’ve had two OE customers this year, both making around 200,000. Both of them got hit with very big tax bills because of underwithholding. One shrugged because they had it in savings and the other panicked and wound up applying for an installment plan with the IRS and state.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This assumes (1) your job has clocks and (2) your job cares about *your* clock. If you’re being paid hourly to work specific hours, sure, it’s a problem. If you’re being paid to accomplish things and have schedule flexibility on when that gets done, it’s not. My job also expects me to be highly available and does not care at all if they contact me outside of standard business hours, so it’s a little harder to classify time as solely mine or theirs. I find it hard to be precious about “their” time when they’ve never particularly cared about mine.

      I do not work two jobs and have no desire to do so; however, of all the arguments against it, the singular clock is one that I find least compelling. It sounds like most of the jobs in being discussed as doubling up are not hourly and are not necessarily time-bound.

  33. perstreperous*

    I have a contractual clause (UK) which states that I shall have one job.

    I wonder if that clause is valid, or even if it has ever been tested in court.

    The only double job holder I have knowingly encountered is a colleague who was an IT consultant Mon-Fri and a supermarket manager Sat-Sun. (At the time, our company didn’t have a “one job only” contractual job and, although it ground its teeth about a staff member in effect working continuously, it couldn’t stop it).

    1. The Dude Abides*

      At my employer (state gov’t in the US), anyone caught doing this is fired on the spot, even if you’re union.

      Employees are very much paid for their time. Moonlighting is perfectly OK and not unheard of. My mother-in-law (former manager at a university medical school) fired someone for taking PTO and using that time to work a second job.

    2. An Australian in London*

      I am not a lawyer in the UK or anywhere else, so this is not an authoritative answer:

      It is very unlikely to be upheld by the Employment Tribunal or by the courts.

      The UK courts take a dim view on “restrictive covenants” – anything that an employer does to try to restrict what the employee can do outside work or after the job has ended. Classic restraint-of-trade clauses (you can’t work at a competitor for a certain time) are routinely thrown out by UK courts.

      To say “you can’t take a second job without our prior approval if there is any possibility of impact to your work duties and deadlines, or any possibility of even the perception of conflict of interest” is pretty common in the finance and banking industry. I assume such specific wording is in answer to court decisions.

      “You shall have one job” is beyond their power. You can’t run a market stall on Saturdays? You can’t volunteer somewhere on Sundays? You can’t tutor students in the evenings? There is no way that would stand up in court and is a rather breathtaking overreach.

  34. Sssssssssssssssssssss*

    This kind of arrangement really depends on the job type. I’m an administrative assistant and the way my work rolls in and is assigned, there’s no way I could do a 2nd full time job.

    It depends, also I believe, on the brain/personality type. There’s a type of brain that thrives on keeping this work arrangement going because there was too much downtime in one job and it triggers an anxiety of “what am I going to do to fill up this time?” – they hate being idle. Working on two jobs with the result of massively reduced downtime keeps their brains happy. (This would not make my brain happy.)

    If there is so much downtime in the work processes, why not provide more work? Why not ask for more work? Why not review the processes that make this happen? Maybe the employee is actually too advanced/smart for the work in question, making them hyper efficient and above average how fast they do the work and promote them and replace them with people who are average and won’t so impacted by a flawed process?

    Someone upthread mentioned a side hustle. IMO, that’s not quite the same. I have a few coworkers who have 2nd jobs – concession stand at the arena, medical billing, and independent travel agents, MLM or similar (everyone has an Avon Lady, right?) – but this is all commonly known, not a secret and not during work hours.

    But I did wonder about a couple who are part-time travel agents – the quality of their work drops and you’re wondering if they’re busy scheduling and selling a trip to Aruba instead of the somewhat important data entry, letter or bill payments.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssss*

        It’s not more work over more hours – in some of the above mentioned scenarios, they are being paid to wait and essentially do nothing while waiting! You’re being paid to “work,” not “wait and do nothing while waiting,” it could be argued. So, of course you could ask for more work since you’re being paid to work.

        1. Caterpillar Kid*

          I’ve also worked lots of jobs where being proactive about getting more work to do is seen as having a “sense of urgency” and people are dinged in performance reviews for just waiting to be told what to do. Maybe that needs to be spelled out as an expectation, but most jobs are not going to constantly be assigning you new tasks – sometimes you need to take initiative and find your own tasks to do!

          1. Sssssssssssssssssssss*

            And I agree with that too. I was underworked 12 years ago. I mastered the new PowerPoint in my downtime.

            But again, it really depends on the role and the job.

      2. hbc*

        It’s not guaranteed, but asking to take on more is often how you move up. I’ve moved a ton of people from blue to white collar jobs, and every one of them is the kind of person who asked for more or just did it. I rose pretty fast myself from hands-on to manager and a lot of it was based on pitching in when I had downtime.

        1. kiki*

          While on the one hand, I agree, that being the type of person who takes on more responsibility in their role is how you end up moving up the chain. I also think, though, that a lot of companies have been exploiting that drive in employees without offering any real benefit or reward. So it’s a delicate balance of knowing what is possible for you in a company.

    1. Starbuck*

      “If there is so much downtime in the work processes, why not provide more work? Why not ask for more work? Why not review the processes that make this happen? ”

      Why on earth would someone ask for more work if they’re already meeting expectations and won’t be getting additional compensation for exceeding them?

      1. Fishsticks*

        I think the root of this really comes from the dichotomy between two kinds of people – people for whom promotions are the brass ring, the goal at the end of the horizon, and people who are content to work and be paid and aren’t necessarily interested in moving up the ladder.

        For someone who wants that promotion, taking the initiative, taking on more work, etc is often considered a plus when people are considering candidates. A “go-getter” attitude, etc. For someone who isn’t interested in being promoted, it just means more work without more pay, more stress, a pointless chasing-your-tail exercise.

        People with the former ambitions struggle to understand that not everyone shares their desire to move up the ladder in this particular company.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Lots of reasons – some people don’t enjoy being bored at work, some people like having the opportunity to learn new things/build skills for their next role, and some people are looking to be promoted or to build skills to take them to the next level at another organization. The reality is that the people first to be considered for promotions are the people who’ve already flexed their skills a little bit and given a preview of what they can do beyond the bare minimum.

  35. hey y'all*

    Maybe Alison can weigh in about how to show two simultaneous remote full time jobs on a resume. If the jobs have different work schedules though, I don’t see the problem.

  36. Double dipping*

    Listen, I started my second full time job last month because my first full time position is:
    1. Disorganized and won’t let me help in any capacity to clean up their calendars or billing.
    2. I’m expected to sit there and wait for one very niche task to come up that comes up once a month and takes ten minutes.
    3. The rest of my time is taken up by the CEO emotionally venting to me about very fixable problems in the company while not letting me use my skills, skills they hired me for specifically, to help them.

    So when another job offer came around, I hopped on it, and I’m barely making a liveable wage for my city so. Maybe pay us more? Be more professional and organized?

    1. Casper Lives*

      Your first job sounds horrible so my question is: why not quit it to work the second job? I understand if it’s a money issue (can’t afford rent etc.).

      1. Double dipping*

        Money, mostly. In a perfect world I’d stay with them as a contractor, and it would benefit everyone a lot more than the current arrangement.

  37. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

    I think this boils down to are you paid for your time or for your expertise/work. If you have a job and the knowledge that you can get work done in 4 hours instead of 8, and it is high-quality work, then I see no problem if someone is working another job at the same time. There are some jobs where this might work.

    However, if your job is more about time, such as someone needs to answer customer calls or be available for company tech support 8-5 then I don’t think you should/ could be doing 2 jobs at the same time.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      I can absolutely see a sitcom episode where someone (an elderly George Costanza perhaps) takes on two at-home call centre jobs, but nobody notices because the pickup times are always abysmal.

      Come to think of it, ‘would George consider it?’ isn’t a bad questions to ask when examining the ethics of possible options.

  38. Asi*

    I suspect several of my coworkers in the same role as me are working second jobs. They don’t pay attention in meetings and will respond several minutes later with some excuse (“sorry, can you hear me now?”). Their calendars are empty and yet they claim they can’t take meetings due to conflicts. They take much longer with tasks than others do: they have all been doing the role for years and should be more proficient at it, and yet newer hires (new to the role in general, not just to our company) are working much faster. It’s frustrating, I feel like these coworkers are checked out and sloppy (similar to how a burnout coworker would be, expect based on their behavior I don’t think they’re burnt out).

  39. Changes2020*

    I have 1 F/T and 2 P/T jobs that I all work during the same 8 hour workday M-F. I have been working this schedule for 5+ years and do not intend to stop. I am hybrid at my full time job 3 days in office / 2 home and openly work on the other jobs as needed. My full time boss does not know about the 2 part time positions (nor will he ever) and it has never been an issue. I am in accounting, so not many in-person or zoom meetings required.

    1. Casper Lives*

      I’m fascinated by this. I’m a lawyer so accounting for hours is standard in the field. I’m too ethical to double charge hours (insert lawyer joke here) and have too much work in my salaries position anyway. Plus I’ve got to be contactable at almost all work hours.

      Can you expand a little on how it works? Are there deliverables, metrics or a certain number of clients per day you’re supposed to work on? Do you ever get concerned about transposing numbers from overworking / brain fatigue (there a term I can’t think of) that could affect your clients or accounts? Has your boss noticed any difference in productivity?

      1. Avery*

        Not the OP and not working multiple jobs, but to your point about the legal field specifically, I’ll add in my two cents:
        I’m a paralegal, so I’m in the same field you are, albeit in a different position. Like you probably are, I’m expected to get a certain amount of billable hours over time. This does not equal eight billable hours per day or 40 billable hours per week because, as you know but other readers don’t, there’s naturally going to be some amount of time that’s not billable even if you’re busting your butt off every day. For me, I need to reach the equivalent of five billable hours a day, but of course the exact amount varies based on the position and the firm.
        Here’s the bit that’s relevant to this thread: I can reach five billable hours a day without working eight-hour days/40-hour weeks. My workweek is closer to six or seven hour days, and therefore 30-35 hours per week, and I still hit my requirements easily enough… AND have time to do things like post this on AAM during business hours ;)
        In my case, my boss knows this, and I’m not in a position where I could supplement my employment with any but the most part-time of side jobs. But for somebody else under different circumstances… yeah, I could see a paralegal working two remote full-time jobs for two different firms, or having one remote paralegal job and one general administrative job, and still reaching billable hours without a problem. If their efficiency’s on par with mine, that might mean twelve-hour workdays, but some people can and will do that for the extra salary!
        (For what it’s worth, I’m ambivalent about the ethics of it all, just wanted to chime in about the productivity bit and how multiple full-time jobs would or wouldn’t be affected by concrete productivity performance markers like billable hours.)

        1. Casper Lives*

          I appreciate it! I’m in a salaried position now, which does have metrics. But it’s murkier than straight billable hours. You’re right that billables can mean working many hours that aren’t reflected, or ethically billing more hours than time. It’s a weird thing to explain to people who haven’t encountered it.

          I prefer salary over billable hours for not time tracking in 6 min increments. I work about 35-40 hours. More in a trial week! Luckily those are relatively rare.

          I’d be too mentally exhausted to take a second job. I cleared six figures for the first time this year, but I’m not exactly flush with cash. It’s a trade off of work-life balance for me. I could have ~3x my salary if I took a job offer last year…that would mean working 80 or more hours / week. Those big firms don’t fit my lifestyle. (I do need that health insurance for chronic health conditions so I could never start my own firm)

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          My issue, when I was a paralegal, was less with my own efficiency and when the client/attorney was in a position to turn the work over to me to hit a deadline. I frequently stuffed what would reasonably have been five hours worth of work to do an excellent job into the 2.5 hours that remained between when I received what I needed and when it was actually due to the court or agency.

          And, where I ran into an issue with my own efficiency was that the billable hour does not incentivize efficiency, and I got dinged for doing work quickly, regardless of quality, because it meant less billable time (until AFAs, particularly fixed-fee and retainer, became more popular, anyway). I am much happier now in a position where efficiency is incentivized rather than punished.

  40. Casper Lives*

    I’ve seen this in practice: a coworker was double dipping by holding our salaried lawyer job and starting her own practice. She did her personal cases during work hours.

    She claimed she was on top of all her cases at my job too. That’s not true but I’m sure she believed it. I got transferred some of her files after and messy is a starting description. She was extremely confident.

    How did she get caught? We’re litigators. Her own firm also did litigation. She entered appearances for her cases that ended up on the same calendar as our work’s cases. Oops.

    I guess I find it hard to believe that someone can work two full time jobs unless both jobs have way too little work.

  41. Mqse*

    Curious why this hasn’t been bright up: at most US jobs, you don’t even sign any type of agreement (let alone contract) when you start a job, just tax forms. I’ve certainly never signed anything promising I wouldn’t work another job at the same time. It’s just that before Covid, you had to be in the office, so it wasn’t easy to do. Now it is. They never said we can’t, so what’s wrong with it?

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      For us, it’s listed in the employee handbook. It’s also depending on if you’re using Job 1’s equipment to work on Job 2, as we also state somewhere in the handbook that any work produced on company laptops etc. belongs to Job. I’m 99% certain it’s also in the “conflict of interest” training we have to sign off on annually.

      How meaningfully that can all be enforced if one were to get terminated for such a thing, because there is no employment contract…. not sure. Am not employment lawyer.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      Most company handbooks have moonlighting policies in them. If you signed off that you read the handbook, you agreed to whatever the company’s moonlighting policy is. For that matter, most companies that have been around for more than a minute have moonlighting policies. But I’m also old to enough to remember when employee handbooks were very specific that you couldn’t have a second job during your regularly scheduled hours, though. (It was actually easier to moonlight back in Ye Olden Tymes, because there were lots of jobs that were out of the office and out of contact for most or all of the day and cell phones didn’t exist yet, so…yeah, there’s nothing new under the sun.)

      1. Avery*

        It might depend on the company, too. I think what you mention is likely the case for big corporations, but smaller companies might not have a formal employee handbook, or might not have a specific policy against moonlighting in them if they do. If your company isn’t a major one, it seems like the sort of thing that could get overlooked until management decides it needs to get addressed for one reason or another (whether that be because it actually comes up and causes issues, or just management seeing articles like Alison’s and acting proactively about an issue they might not have thought of before).

    3. Dinwar*

      Given the number of people who work two jobs, fundamentally nothing. And given the number of people with a side hustle that they do during work hours, but which has minimal impact, this seems to be a fairly typical view: If you can work a second job and not impact your work at your first, have at it.

      The issue is two FULL-TIME jobs. The question is whether one has the capacity to actually offer full-time value for two different full-time jobs. If you’re providing 20 hours of value for 40 hours of pay, that’s not right.

      It gets even stickier if you’re working two full-time jobs at the same time. You can only really concentrate on one thing at a time (multitasking is really just rapidly switching what you’re concentrating on, and study after study shows it doesn’t help make anything faster). I think this is why coding people tend to do it–their job has set periods where they can’t do much (like when code compiles), so they feel safe doing additional work for someone else during that time. If you’re sitting in on a meeting while drafting a report for someone else, however, neither of us is getting the benefit we pay you for.

      In either of the latter two cases you are, to put it as bluntly as possible, defrauding your employers. Morally if not legally (though likely legally as well).

  42. It's me*

    The person working 2 high-level jobs said “If there are crises going on with different companies’ customers at once, I treat it no differently than if I had time conflicts at one job—I prioritize and do what I can.”

    If I was one of those companies, I’d feel pretty strongly that I was paying him to be fully available in crises like that, not to be prioritizing and only doing “what I can”.

    I manage a couple of teams where the work never runs out, and we just meet our most deliverables in a 40-hour week. Any of us could half-ass our jobs and only do 20 hours a week – but it’d put pressure on our teammates and it’d mean our customers got lousier work. If one of my team was working another job I’d be very unimpressed.

    1. Grammar Penguin*

      Indeed. Every time they have to make that choice, they’re slacking at one of their high-level, highly-paid jobs while claiming to have no performance issues at all.

  43. TechWorker*

    I don’t buy the argument that a good manager would (immediately) notice performance suffering… at a high level – especially director level like the original post – there’s no way your manager can or should have a tight grasp on the precise set of tasks you are doing, let alone how long they take. There’s an element of trust there, and if you’re setting your own work calendar and defining your own tasks… then working half the time the company is expecting to get is dishonest. I’m a mid level manager bt one think I do ask my reports is whether they have time to take on extra initiatives – and I need to be able to trust the answer! If someone says they don’t have any bandwidth but the reason is they’re spending 25 hrs on the job when it should be 40… that’s shitty.

  44. GrandBargain*

    What’s wrong with holding multiple jobs? Intellectual property rights.

    What many are overlooking is that a company owns all the work product that an employee creates during the time they’re working (or supposed to be working) for the company. IP is such a big issue that companies, almost without exception, spell out their intellectual property policy and require employees to sign statements acknowledging and agreeing to abide by the policy.

    One commenter above mentions working in two tech/coding roles… as a full-time employee with company A, and as a contractor with company B. They do both of these jobs within ‘normal’ working hours… just interleaving their efforts during quiet times. They don’t understand that company A would be fully justified in asserting ownership of all work done for company B. And if anything was done for company B that relied on or was derived from work done for company A, both the employee and company B could be charged with theft of IP and sued for serious damages.

    Anyone working more than one job (without disclosing to all parties and receiving written permission) in creative/leadership roles or participating in any kind of creative projects/team endeavors is playing with fire.

    1. An Australian in London*

      Oh it’s even worse than that.

      Most large IT companies, and the agencies that supply contractors to them, *both* assert IP rights to *everything* that the worker produces.

      Not just related to the job, and not just during working hours, but *all* IP.

      I declined a contract recently in the UK precisely because the agency contract said that if I write *anything* – software code, a novel, a movie – they would own the IP, *and* I would be required to work for free for any hours they demanded in order to effect full transfer of ownership to them, including writing manuals and training their staff. The contract was quite clear that this applied 24/7 and nothing I wrote while under this contract could ever belong to me.

  45. Purple Jello*

    I’ve never had a job where I had enough time to do a second job on the side. I didn’t have enough time to get done what I needed to in my first job.

  46. Don't Call Me Shirley*

    I think the tech layoffs and overemployment being possible both come from the overhiring in the “big tech” companies. There’s status from having a big team so they over hire, so the job shrinks to be doable in less time.

    Either that or big flat teams, and getting away with looking good in easy metrics… The 10 hour solution that makes assumptions and sort of works is done, and they’re gone by the time we see it needs to be redone. Meanwhile the over employed claim to be better than the engineer who takes 40 hours to understand the context and think through and test the edge cases because they do twice as much.

  47. Company policy*

    My company recently put out a policy that strictly forbids having “another full time job”. Not sure what they plan to enforce about it but it seems wrong to tell me I can’t have 2 full time jobs. I agree with the part of the policy that states nothing during your working hours at my company but if I can do off hours who are they to say no!

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      They can’t really do that though. They can say you cannot work another job during the SAME work hours, but they can’t dictate what people do with their free time.

  48. fgcommenter*

    Moreover, for years now, employers have been understaffing and expecting employees to do the work of multiple roles for no increase in pay.

    Exactly. If an employer is squeezing 80 hours of work into 40 hours, for 40 hours pay, then working for 20 hours is doing 40 hours of work. Working for 20 hours at 2 companies for 40 hours of pay each is therefore doing 80 hours of work for 80 hours of pay.

  49. Rocky*

    A couple of thoughts: In my country, standard employment contracts include include a clause that you will notify your employer if you start working another job, including after hours. Second thought: My issue as a manager is that if someone is under-performing, and they tell me it’s because of a sick child/caring for an elderly relative/ long standing health issue they’re trying to manage, I have to take that on faith. How much ‘slack’ should I give them, and for how long? If someone were to take on a secret second job, and use the above excuses to disguise their poor performance, I’m pretty stuck about what to do next.

    1. cncx*

      Same in my country, it’s in our contracts. Also it’s a small world and the two tax forms would be enough for the tax authorities to go digging/snitch. We have to declare any secondary income over 6k and declare what our « main job » is.

      1. An Australian in London*

        Both countries I live and work in have a tax-free threshold that can only be claimed for one job.

        In Australia we the workers choose which job to claim it on.

        In the UK it is chosen for us by HMRC based purely on total income from that job in the current financial year. This means it can flip back and forth form one month to the next.

  50. lilsheba*

    I’m not brave enough to try and work two full time jobs from home. While I do have a lot of free time sometimes, and I even think my boss would be ok with it, I don’t have the nerve or the energy to deal with it.

  51. Ahdez*

    When I first saw the post on AAM about the person with two full time jobs I thought it was crazy… fast forward and now I am working my salaried job and consulting gig. Our work load has plummeted at my FT job and I started looking last year. I haven’t been laid off, but work is still way under 40 hours a week. I even offered to go PT when things looked really bad (they decided they wanted me to stay on) and told my boss I was going to pick up some consulting work, which she said was fine, so she does sort of know. The other gig knows about my FT job and is OK to work around it, but I do take meetings during the day and do work “on the clock” as I’m “engaged to wait” for the FT job. Anyway, I thought I’d share since I didn’t see myself here six months ago!

  52. Anon for this*

    My consistent experience as a senior IT contract worker is that I personally can:

    – do an adequate job working 10 hours/week
    – do a good job working 15 hours/week
    – do a great job, exceeding expectations, working 20 hours/week
    – do an exemplary job, redefining all expectations and winning awards, working 25 hours/week

    It’s a pity I don’t work at one of the tech giants because they pay differently for exceeding or redefining expectations. Everywhere else pats identically for the four levels of output.

    For perhaps my first 20 years of work I always worked to create the greatest impact for my clients out of a sense of professional pride. Then I realised that literally no one cared. I can exceed expectations consistently and produce more and better quality output than anyone I work with in 20 hours/week.

    These are also clients hiring contractors because top management decrees that salaried employees can only be hired from low cost countries like India and Romania. Then they simultaneously offer below market contract rates and complain that it’s hard to hire. Then they hire contractors on zero-rights payroll contracts which tax them like employees but give no employment benefits, cutting pay 30-45%.

    I am personally working 40-50 hour weeks to out myself in the same economic position I would be in if these greedy corporate clients engaged contractors fairly and hired competitively, all the while knocking it out of the park and MVP on two teams.

    In these circumstances, if you accept that all of the above is true, tell me whom I am hurting by secretly taking two such jobs. It is secret because large corporate clients have zero flexibility for their contractual terms and this would be instant termination if known, regardless of the merits.

  53. Mark Roth*

    It should be simple: If the work is getting done, no company should have any business caring what their workers do outside of work, including another job.

    1. TechWorker*

      If it’s ‘during the same hours they’re meant to be working for the first job’ then it’s not ‘outside work’ is it…

    2. An Australian in London*

      If the work is done, no liability or risks are created, and there is possibility of even the perception of conflict of interest, no company has any business caring what their workers do, period.

      It’s not the company’s business if the workers are working 40 hours, 39.5 hours, or 5 hours.
      It’s not the company’s business if the workers spend the remaining time on the couch eating bonbons, in the swimming pool, or working another job.

      If the work is getting done well; if there are no issues with responsiveness; what else can a company legitimately require or even want from their workers?

  54. E*

    I have someone working on my project who for the last couple weeks has been really not around. We work remotely and he’s had like three different unrelated health things in addition to kid’s doctors appointments. But this honestly could be totally legit and I don’t want to be a jerk if he’s having a rough time. But this project has deliverables, and after a week he still didn’t have the first one done, and I was able to do it in 15 minutes, and I’m not that much more competent than he is. He also has told me he has ADHD, so it could be that. Anyway, it’s really frustrating and because I don’t manage him directly, the only tools I really have are reaching out directly to his manager and saying “this guy is not doing the work”, which I’m reluctant to do if he actually just is having a string of bad luck.

    But I do wonder now if he’s actually doing another job! And I think this is an example of how the issue is not just “if someone were managing you well, you wouldn’t be able to get away with this unless you actually were doing well at your job.” Because I am definitely aware that his work isn’t getting done. It’s not like I haven’t noticed or scheduled more check-ins to add in more accountability. But I want to give him the benefit of the doubt here and not question him when he says he’s going to the doctor again or feeling sick and needs to take time off. No one wants to be the jerk who asks for a doctor’s note or says “ok, but is your kid really sick?” Which is part of why people can work two jobs and do a lousy job and get away with it — because there’s a certain amount of trust given, which is a good thing.

    1. kiki*

      the only tools I really have are reaching out directly to his manager and saying “this guy is not doing the work”, which I’m reluctant to do if he actually just is having a string of bad luck.

      I understanding that you don’t want to get this guy in trouble if he’s really just having a bad go of it, but his manager should know that his performance isn’t up to snuff, even if he’s having a hard time. A good manager wouldn’t immediately punish your coworker. If they’re having a hard time, a good manager would work with your coworker to figure out ways to get what’s needed done. This way your manager also has a solid timeline for how long the performance issues have been going on and can assess a reasonable timeline for getting back on track.

  55. kiki*

    I wanted to add that I think one reason this has taken off in tech is that team and management structure in tech companies is often a bit convoluted. A lot of individual contributor’s managers aren’t actually on the same team as the IC. This model operates under the assumption that somebody will let the manager know if an IC isn’t performing well, but that doesn’t always happen. It’s awkward to tell a manager that a coworker is doing a bad job– especially if you think there might be mitigating factors.

  56. dackquiri*

    I don’t blame these people one iota but I am biting my nails at what could happen to the rental market if it takes off.

  57. pepperonimama*

    My team recently found out that our manager was working another full-time job (something I had been suspecting for a while). At first, I thought they had a chill management style, but after a while, I started getting very frustrated with the bottlenecked projects, canceled meetings, and slow/no responses on critical tasks. They would always cite “low bandwidth” and turn down new assignments for our team, despite me telling them I had a LOT and wanted to work.
    At the end of the day, they were laid off, along with 1/3 of our team, due to low revenue/performance. This manager stalled my promotions and raises for a year and has set me back in my career. Our team is picking up the pieces and still catching up to prove our value. It’s been really tough.
    Freelancing a few hours per week is common in our field, and like, all the power to you for getting your bag, but make sure if you do this, you aren’t affecting anyone else that relies on you for their job.

  58. Against This!*

    So someone is making $400,000.00 per year working 2 jobs simultaneously. That seems really greedy. Nobody (or almost nobody) needs to make that kind of money to survive, plus then that takes a job away from someone else. Taking multiple high-paying jobs, even when doing them well, is stealing work from others.

  59. EchoGirl*

    So, I did once have a remote job where I think I could have made something like this work. It was just a lot of repetitive tasks and I would often do things like play low-effort games on my phone at the same time just to keep my brain from turning to mush. I can see being able to do two jobs of that type without a drop in productivity, even if it’s not exactly honorable. (It was never really an option for me even if I’d thought of it as this was pre-pandemic so there were a lot less remote jobs available.) OTOH, I think it would become a lot harder if even one of the two jobs, let alone both, required more sustained attention. I also think it’s fair to consider that people aren’t always the best judges of their own productivity in these situations, so they may FEEL like they’re completely keeping up but their coworkers might say differently.

  60. some_coder*

    If it is okay and if they don’t damage the companies, why do these people hide their second job and do everything “behind the scenes”? Why not be open about it and get approval from the companies?

    Because they know that this is wrong and they are commiting fraud (time and wage theft from both companies). They know it and thats why they hide it. The “but i dont harm anyoneee” and “but i can do both jobs welllll” stuf is just for their own conscience.

  61. ZucchiniBikini*

    This is an odd one for me, because, as a freelancer, I am always working multiple “jobs” at once (and they are substantial ongoing commitments, not piecework – really more like part-time jobs than one-and-done task-based work). Of course, there are key differences, the most important being that all my clients know I have other clients – there is no secrecy involved! (They also don’t labour under the misapprehension that they are buying exclusive access to my time or attention, or expect or pay for anything close to full-time availability).

    So on one level, I totally understand a person believing, and indeed being correct, that they *can* do more than one job successfully at a time. It is harder to manage your attention and focus across more than one workplace / project, but this is a problem that can be compensated for (freelancers do it all the time).

    On the other hand, I think there is an insurmountable ethical issue with accepting more than one fulltime jobs and salaries and not disclosing to either employer that you are self-sharing (if that is indeed the word for the opposite of job-sharing :-) It’s a kind of fraud in my mind. If you know that they would never agree to such conditions if you disclosed them, it’s pretty shitty to withhold that information. And that’s before you even start to get into the potential conflict of interest issues, which can be MASSIVE.

    I have no issue with fulltime employees taking on second part-time jobs outside their hours of work – lots of people do this, and honestly, unless there is a COI, I can’t see how it is the employer’s business. But double-selling the same hours…? Feels dishonest. Feels wrong.

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