The cost of living in Nigeria has risen to a new high, and this is heavily characterized by an increase in the cost of transportation, and food, among others. It is no surprise that employees nowadays often seek to supplement their income by working a second job or having a side hustle. The need for employees to seek other means of employment and income generation outside their primary place of employment has led to the phenomenal of sunlighting, the celestial twin of moonlighting.
Sunlighting has been defined by Wiktionary as working at another job when taking time off from one’s regular (day) job.[i] This is in contrast to moonlighting, which simply means taking up a second job in the evening after the close of one’s day job.[ii] Sunlighting often involves cutting down the hours you put in your primary place of employment, so you can work a second job.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SUNLIGHTING
Sunlighting helps to generate additional income, which has become a financial necessity in these harsh economic times. In addition to providing extra income, sunlighting provides an opportunity to learn new skills or gain valuable experience necessary to progress in one’s career.
Despite these advantages, there are real dangers to working two jobs at the same time. Sunlighting may create a conflict of interest for the primary employer’s business. There is a risk that sensitive and confidential information of the primary employer may be leaked to a competitor, which may be devastating to the employer’s business. There’s also the danger of using one’s skillset to advance the business of a competitor.[iii]
Sunlighting may also hamper productivity at the primary place of employment. It may result in an overworked and tired staff, thus increasing the risk of employees burning out, which would, in turn, have a negative impact on overall performance and productivity.
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF SUNLIGHTING
The legality or otherwise of sunlighting depends on the provisions of the contract of employment, company policy, and employee handbook. At the commencement of every employment, parties are free to agree on the terms and conditions which would govern the employment relationship and the respective rights and responsibilities of both the employer and employee.[iv] Consequentially, the employer is free to incorporate a contractual provision that prevents an employee from sunlighting.
Therefore, an employer’s rights in relation to sunlighting will depend on the terms and conditions of the contract of employment. Where the contract contains a clause prohibiting the employee from working another job during the term of their employment, then the employer has the right to enforce that clause by instituting disciplinary proceedings or an action for breach of contract, most especially where the breach has occasioned misfortune or economic loss to the employer’s business. It may also lead to a dismissal of the employee where an employee takes on secondary employment.
However, employers should consider the potential negative effect that any absolute prohibition against securing secondary employment may have on their workforce, especially in these current economic times.[v]
Side hustle has become the buzzword for most employees in Nigeria. Relying on just a single job to generate income no longer seems feasible in these current financial times. Thus, it is important for employers to know how to best to deal with situations where employees feel the need to secure a secondary employment.
Employers should carefully consider the adverse effect of an absolute prohibition preventing their employees from working a second job. Unless an employer can afford to provide their staff with a suitable pay raise, seeking to enforce any contractual prohibitions around secondary employment may be counterproductive and can result in a disgruntled workforce or even loss of staff.
Employers should strive to create an environment where employees do not feel the need to keep working a second job a secret but rather create a system where employees would notify the employer of any second job and the reasons for this. By doing this, employers would be able to ensure safe working practices while also giving their employees the opportunity to earn extra income, which would, in turn, lead to a happier and more productive workforce.
Employers should also ensure that the company’s sunlighting policy is properly communicated to its working staff through training programs or employee handbooks. This will enable employees to know the proper steps to take when seeking to take up a second job. These policies may also specify the kinds of secondary employment which may be taken up by employees in the organization to avoid conflict of interest.
Employees are advised to first of all take a look at their contract of employment to determine whether or not taking up a second job would be a breach of such contract. They should also examine the employee handbook and company policy to understand the limits to which they can undertake a secondary employment. Where the contract of employment, company policy, or employee handbook does not provide anything about taking up a second job, it is important to consult one’s HR personnel to make sure it is permitted by the company.
Conclusively, although the advantages of sunlighting may be numerous and attractive, efforts must be made to carefully manage it to ensure that the business of the primary employer is not negatively impacted.
[ii] Amit Jaju, Dealing with Employee Moonlighting in the Times of Remote working https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/hr-leadership/people/dealing-with-employee-moonlighting-in-the-times-of-remote-working/articleshow/89054095.cms Accessed on January 24, 2023
[iii] Davidson Morris, Legal Implications of Working Two Jobs https://www.davidsonmorris.com/legal-implications-of-working-two-jobs/#:~:text=Is%20it%20legal%20to%20work,create%20a%20conflict%20of%20interest. Accessed on January 24, 2023
[iv] Nidirect, Employment Contracts https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/employment-contracts Accessed on January 24, 2023
[v] Davidson Morris, Legal Implications of Working Two Jobs https://www.davidsonmorris.com/legal-implications-of-working-two-jobs/#:~:text=Is%20it%20legal%20to%20work,create%20a%20conflict%20of%20interest. Accessed on January 24, 2023