From extra income to unemployment: Your side hustles through moonlighting will get you fired!

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Are Your Extra Gigs Worth the Risk: The True Cost of Side Hustles in South Africa

In today’s fast-paced world, many individuals are seeking additional streams of income to supplement their primary jobs in South Africa. This phenomenon, commonly known as moonlighting, involves taking on side hustles or part-time gigs outside of regular working hours. While the allure of earning extra money may be enticing, recent legal cases have shed light on the potential risks and consequences associated with this practice.

One such case that caught the attention of the South African labor landscape involves an employee at the prestigious University of Witwatersrand. The employee, initially working as a part-time lecturer, was also employed by Alexander Forbes on a part-time basis. Subsequently, the individual secured full-time employment with the university but failed to disclose her intention to take on another full-time position with Kantar South Africa.

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The University of Witwatersrand, like many reputable institutions, had a comprehensive declaration of interests policy in place. This policy required employees to declare any potential conflicts of interest, including involvement in external businesses or moonlighting activities. By completing and submitting an annual form detailing their interests, employees enabled the institution to assess and approve any conflicts of interest. However, in this particular instance, the employee failed to disclose her intention to work full-time with Kantar South Africa, which ultimately led to her dismissal.

The labor court, after careful consideration, deemed the undisclosed moonlighting a breach of the employee’s fiduciary duties towards the university. The court emphasized that moonlighting, as a matter of principle, is unacceptable without the express permission of the employer. The employee’s failure to disclose her intentions beforehand presented the employer with a fait accompli, hindering their ability to exercise informed judgment.

While some may argue that they possess the ability to manage multiple positions simultaneously, the labor court stressed that it is unrealistic to expect individuals to possess “superhuman abilities” to fulfill their obligations under multiple contracts. Conflicts of interest and the potential prejudice to the employer cannot be ignored, especially when loyalties may be questioned due to discrepancies in remuneration or competing work schedules.

Moonlighting is not inherently illegal or unethical. However, as the labor court ruling highlights, it is crucial for employees to be transparent and disclose their intentions to their employers beforehand. This not only allows employers to make informed decisions but also fosters an atmosphere of trust and good faith between both parties.

Employers, on the other hand, should establish clear policies regarding moonlighting and conflicts of interest. By defining what constitutes a conflict and implementing a process for employees to disclose their side ventures, employers can proactively address potential conflicts and make informed decisions about their permissibility.

The case discussed here serves as a cautionary tale for both employees and employers in South Africa. It underscores the importance of communication, transparency, and adherence to established policies. Employees seeking to engage in moonlighting activities should familiarize themselves with their employer’s policies and procedures, ensuring full compliance and disclosure. Simultaneously, employers should review and update their policies to reflect the evolving nature of work and the challenges posed by moonlighting.

As the South African job market continues to evolve, individuals are increasingly exploring alternative income streams. While the allure of extra money is understandable, it is essential to navigate the landscape of moonlighting with caution and transparency. By balancing the desire for additional income with a commitment to open communication and compliance, employees can protect their jobs and foster a thriving work environment.

Remember, at Work In South Africa, we are committed to helping job seekers and employers navigate the ever-changing world of work. Stay informed, stay connected, and let us assist you in finding the perfect job or the ideal candidate.

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