This tech CEO fired two engineers for having second full-time jobs, warns they're part of a new trend

Software company Canopy said it recently discovered that two of its workers were also employed elsewhere.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor
Image: Getty Images/Maria Korneeva

For all the benefits that remote working brings, there's no arguing about the fact that having employees that work exclusively from home brings certain management challenges.

For instance, how do you ensure that an employee is doing what they are being paid to do during the hours they're contracted to work? If your employee took on a new full-time job without telling you, how would you know that they were claiming two pay checks at the end of each month?

While the idea of working two full-time jobs is many employees' idea of hell, the reality is that it does happen, and appears to have become more prevalent – or at least, easier to get away with – since remote working became the standard for many.

Also: The WFH dilemma: How to manage your team, without the micro-management

Software company Canopy, for example, has revealed it recently fired two newly hired engineers after discovering that they were already employed full-time at another company.

Canopy CEO Davis Bell said the unnamed developers, who were already holding down jobs at an undisclosed "big tech company", were caught after management flagged problems with their performance.

Bell wrote on LinkedIn: "This is not about side hustles or moonlighting," and said these were people holding down two, full-time synchronous jobs "trying to be in two meetings at once, etc".

Financial services company Equifax also recently sacked a number of staff for secretly juggling multiple full-time jobs.

As reported by Business Insider(via Ars Technica), Equifax fired 24 members of staff after using its own product, The Work Number, to find that some staff were working multiple roles (in some cases, up to three). 

The trend of taking on secret second jobs – also known as "overemployment" – is gaining support in some corners of the online world; indeed, there are Reddit forums and even entire websites dedicated to helping remote workers (primarily tech workers) find second jobs and hide them from their employers.

Employers are not pleased: Bell described it as a "new form of theft and deception, and not something in which an ethical, honest person would participate."

The responses to Bell's post were mixed: while some agreed with the Canopy CEO's assertions, others argued that workers should be free to take on additional jobs provided they can deliver consistent performance, while others suggested that working multiple jobs could be necessary for some workers struggling with high prices and low pay.

Also: More bosses are using software to monitor remote workers. Not everyone is happy about it

Bell was eventually forced to lock the comments section on his post after receiving abuse.

He shared a number of potential 'red flag' behaviours for employers to watch out for and noted that while none of them were "by themselves an indication of a problem…taken together they may indicate a bad actor."

These include:

  • Making their LinkedIn private upon accepting a job offer
  • Not signing up for benefits
  • Having their screen turned off in meetings
  • Slow response times on Slack and email
  • Frequently late to or absent for meetings with no explanation
  • Experience working for very large companies, where it may be easier to mask activity/inactivity
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