Moonlighting: Right or Wrong? – Part One

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Moonlighting refers to secondary or supplementary income. Ages ago (or still), the office environment will be full of employees who bring their catalogues to sell products such as Tupperware (the lid and the significant brands when neighbours exchange food during breakfast or Eid; nostalgic much?) or Amway (home detergent products, house utensils and etc). This conventional method has changed whereby these days, employees sell their products (either their own or as dropship agents) via online platforms – Facebook, Instagram, blogs etc. Clearly, the pattern of side-income activities among employees has shifted from traditional way of selling to the more up-to-date just one click away method.

As an employer, you should know that you can’t control everything relating to your employees’ life. Earning from a side income is a grey area topic where you tend to ask yourself, whether you should impose any policies or regulations or should you just allow it since it is a need to possess extra money in this time and age as compared to relying on just one source of income from the Company. It also can be argued that it is a private act to have an additional side income; therefore, there shall be no interruption from the Management.

The issues arise if you allow your employee to do online or offline business during office hours. Let’s say, during the month of Ramadan, most Muslim employees will be busy looking for means to earn extra money for the Raya preparation and you would have encountered instances where many would bring samples of cookies, or just busy scrolling their phones during lunch break since it is the fasting month and they don’t need to eat anyway. How about those who use the Company’s facilities like computers and the internet to handle their side income matters? Or even worse, those who drive ‘Grab’ or ‘Uber’ during non-working hours which leads to them being late comers or who’s performance has been drastically affected.

Penny for thoughts: Can or should you as an employer stop them from having an additional side income?

There is no written law that states expressly or impliedly on how to handle this matter. Nevertheless, there are Industrial Court cases that set an eye to eye opinion which suggests as long as the legitimate interest of the Company is not affected, then the moonlighting activity shouldn’t be a problem.