Moonlighting is defined in the workplace as working a second job without informing your main employer, and employees earn extra money outside of working hours. A possible concern is that moonlighting may cause a decrease in productivity in the workplace. Data from the Momentum/ Unisa Household Index shows that an estimated 14% of households obtain an additional income from a second job. But does the employer have any right to object to an employee holding down a second job while being employed?

The general principle is that an employee cannot be unreasonably kept from supplementing their income. Employers can however take proactive measures to manage the situation by including a clause in the employment contract for employees to require or request permission to take up additional employment.  Any possible conflict of interest must also be disclosed.

A workplace policy can also prohibit moonlighting. Rules regarding moonlighting need to be in writing, ensuring that employees are aware of the consequences if contravened. The Labour Appeal Court has held that for moonlighting to be effectively prohibited, there must be a specific rule stating that it is not permissible, and the rule should be known to employees. For a dismissal based on moonlighting to be fair, it must answer to the criteria mentioned, and the consequence thereto needs to very clearly stated.

The key to allowing employees to supplement their income from an additional work source, is to have an open line of communication, with a common understanding that performance in the workplace should not suffer as a result thereof.

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