“Double-dipping” (sometimes called “overemployment”) refers to employees working multiple jobs, often full time. In many circumstances, the multiple employers are unaware of one another. Double dipping creates legal considerations and potential conflicts to address.
Remote work increases the likelihood
The rise of remote work has made it easier for employees to obscure how they spend their time, especially in roles involving working from home or jobs like consulting and sales, where employees have minimal daily oversight.
How to identify double-dipping
Monitoring employee activities, particularly remote or hybrid workers, is essential. Patterns of behavior, such as not being available for meetings during specified hours, should be addressed with the help of HR or your legal team. Warning signs include employees not participating in video meetings, frequent lateness or inattentiveness during meetings, and unexplained periods of inactivity. Employees who refuse to work onsite without valid reasons also can raise suspicions.
Some individuals may list jobs on LinkedIn or other sites that they don’t expect their employer to discover, so conducting inquiries into their work history can reveal potential issues.
Receiving emails from an employee who you know but via a different address or domain name could be another indicator of overemployment.
Employers can use metadata embedded in documents to confirm they were created using company software, or verify program logs or access reports.
Collaboration with HR and legal during an investigation is imperative
Addressing double dipping requires collaboration with HR and legal teams to investigate and take appropriate actions. These investigations may implicate issues involving privacy, software licensing, trade secrets, and conflicts of interest, among others.
Responding to proven occurrences
Determining the appropriate response depends on the circumstances. Employers should be certain of double dipping before discussing it with others. Fraudulent practices, such as expense fraud, should be reported to the relevant parties.
Disciplinary actions serve as a deterrent, so if an organization has previously terminated employees for double dipping, word likely will spread. However, the reasons for an employee’s departure should generally not be disclosed outside HR or legal channels.
Outright bans on outside work may themselves be illegal in many states (including California), and don’t work in many cases because they can be impractical to enforce and unfair to impose, especially for lower-paid or part-time employees.
Instead, companies can ask employees to disclose roles that might create conflicts of interest, such as working for a competitor, customer or vendor, and should have explicit policies prohibit outside work during company hours or using company resources, including company equipment and intellectual property.
Keeping employees engaged, motivated, and aligned with the company’s mission can reduce the temptation to seek additional employment. Fostering a positive work environment and providing challenging tasks within employees’ skill sets can help mitigate the risks associated with double dipping.
Organizations should set clear expectations during the recruitment process, align applicants with expected work hours, and have written policies requiring employees to disclose outside work that could pose conflicts of interest.