When the sun sets, Moonlighting rises

Moonlighting is a double-edged sword. It can be a great way to earn extra income, but it’s also frowned upon by employers at the same time.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the world into a lockdown in 2020.

Due to this, working from home became the new normal for employment. While working from home, employees saved time that would typically get consumed in activities such as commuting to the office.

Having extra time in hand, employees looked for other avenues to maximize their income. These employees made the concept of Moonlighting into a living reality, leading to the question of what really motivated them to do so. This article would look into the concept of Moonlighting, what is making it so popular and how it will change the nature of employment.

Definition of the term: Moonlighting

Moonlighting is the practice of holding a second job, often at night, in addition to one’s main job, usually to earn extra income.

It is when you have a regular job (say, a 9 to 5 job) and are able to do a second job.

The second job is taken up after normal work hours. Taking into consideration that an average person works a 9 to 5 job and if this person has to moonlight, then this second job will be done in the evening when the sun sets and the moon rises. Since its association with the moon, the concept of moonlighting has originated.

Examples of Employee moonlighting

Moonlighters can be found in any field and profession; they are not limited to high-paying careers or consultants with specialized skill sets.

For example, Sam who works at a school from 9-5 is also a trainer at online teaching platforms after school.

Joe, a blogger who works full-time as an accountant could be considered moonlighting.

Does moonlighting means freelancing?

A freelancer is self-employed and not an employee of a particular company but an independent contractor providing services to various companies/individuals. But, in moonlighting, a full-time employee is able to hold another job outside of the employee’s regular job.

Even though moonlighters might look like freelancers while doing their second job, it is important to note that they are doing this after the sun has set (ie. their regular job has finished) and the moonlight job is done in the light of the moon.

Freelancing is when you are self-employed and do this fully for employment. Moonlighters take up part-time jobs or second jobs, outside of their regular job working hours for the primary purpose of making extra money.

Why do Employees Moonlight?

Employees moonlight when they feel that their regular job isn’t bringing them job satisfaction. The most common reason would be a lack of remuneration for their work where employees are motivated to look for another job for financial security.

Some employees might feel that their job is monotonous and is not helping them to maximize their talent and make the most of their potential. In such a case, there is a need to moonlight. At other times, passion plays an important role and if financial needs don’t motivate an employee, then passion to take up a second job would become the employee’s labor of love.

What do Employers think about moonlighting?

Employers believe that when an employee moonlights, it could lead to productivity loss in the employee’s regular job. If an employee feels that leave encashment is not attractive, then an employee would take up a second job which would pay him more for that day or would be more financially attractive than encashing his leave. This would lead to employees opting to use up their leaves, resulting in absenteeism in the workplace.

Another perspective is that an employer may consider an employee who moonlights as an asset as the employee is making the best use of his time and is constantly learning. With a wider range of skill sets and the desire to constantly learn, the employee will be more productive in his primary job.

Is moonlighting legal?

This will depend on your country’s laws on dual employment.

Another factor would be your primary job contract terms and conditions that will state whether you are free to moonlight or not. A single employment clause in your work contract can legally bind you to a single job. The non-compete clause can prohibit you from working for a competitor either during your tenure in your primary job or for a set period after you have resigned from your primary job.

However, many countries have no specific laws addressing moonlighting and only forbid it either when it presents a conflict of interest with an employee’s primary job or if it is done at the expense of their employer, some exceptions also exist for self-employed persons.

How do avoid conflict between employer and employee while moonlighting?

If you’re planning to moonlight, it’s important to set clear boundaries between your work and personal lives. The key is knowing when it’s acceptable and when you might be crossing the line into unethical territory.

Here are 4 tips to avoid conflict between employer and employee while moonlighting:

  1. Check your contract.

    If you’re an employee, check your contract to see what it says about moonlighting. If nothing’s written down, talk to your boss and ask if there are any issues with working a second job. If the answer is no, try to get it in writing

  2. Get permission from your boss.

    It’s important to have your boss’ approval before starting any side hustle because they may have concerns about how it will affect their company.

  3. Set clear hours for each job and stick to them.

    This will help you avoid burnout and make sure you have enough time for both jobs, but also get the most out of your moonlighting gig.

  4. Be honest with both employers.

    You need to be honest about what you’re doing and how much time you’re spending on each job — including weekends!

    If you don’t think you can manage two full-time jobs at once, consider scaling back or quitting one before starting the other one so that you don’t make yourself sick or stressed out with too much work in too little time.

Avenues to Moonlight

One can search for a second job either on social media, employment portals, and the traditional way of taking up a second job which is to search for employment locally. 

Social Media

Nowadays social media has become a powerful force in the networking process. It is one of the easiest and most cost effective way to reach an audience. With a click of a button we can join a Facebook group that networks job providers with job seekers. If we have talent and want to showcase this to the world, then one would want to create a Youtube channel. The more people the channel reaches, one can monetize the content on their channel via ads, affiliate marketing, and paid promotions. For instance, an employee after work, can take up a second job either in the form of a content creator on Youtube, Instagram or can seek for part time work via a group/community on Facebook, LinkedIn.

Employment Portals

Looking for a second job has become very easy these days thanks to portals like Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork, Workana, Toptal, Flexjobs, Jooble, Simplyhired where one can take up part time job opportunities which can either be project based or for a specific period of time.

Local based opportunities

Employees can even go for the traditional way to search for a second job ie. via looking out for opportunities in their area. This can be in the form of a teacher giving private tuitions once school ends or registering herself to teach in a coaching institute after school hours. People who are highly skilled can provide consultation services by working part time for a consultancy.


Moonlighting is on a rise these days as it has become very easy to take up work outside your primary job. So, when employees feel that the sun has set on them in their primary job, they will look elsewhere for work.

Moonlighting is good as long as it doesn’t get in the way of an employee’s primary job. Employees should moonlight responsibly. For instance, an employee must not use their company laptop to work on another assignment outside of their primary work. Employers can be more employee friendly by setting up mechanisms in the workplace that promote employees growth and well-being. If still, an employee feels the need to moonlight, then an employer can amend the terms of contract considering employee satisfaction can lead to better results in his primary job.

By: Kester Pereira

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