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Watch what you do at work

A word of caution to employees: Watch what you do in the workplace?

Fidelity Investments fired four workers for after they were discovered playing in a paid fantasy football league at work.  The company cited its anti-gambling policy as cause for the dismissals.  Evidence was found not in work emails, but in two instant messages sent during work hours.  Last year, Challenger Gray estimated that employers lost $615 million per week in lost productivity due to fantasy football, despite gains in workplace morale and camaraderie.

Participating in social media and shopping from your office computer is risky, too. Some companies have policies that ban workers from going on Facebook during the workday. Right now, when jobs are scarce, it seems pretty short-sighted to risk your job over something like Fantasy Football or Facebook.

Then there's the issue of moonlighting or as it's now called daylighting.

I tackled the topic of moonlighting in my Miami Herald column today. Here's the piece:

Moonlighting Roberto Cosentino considers holding one job as risky as security anymore,'' he says. In these tough economic times with rising unemployment and shrinking pay and work hours, holding multiple jobs increasingly is an option for those who can get the work.

Moonlighting has been around as long as lunch buckets. But now people are daylighting, too: squeezing in any opportunity to make additional income. Many manage it while the office is quiet or during breaks. Others are picking up side gigs anywhere they can get them.

A few weeks ago, I met Robert, another local cash-strapped worker who didn't want his last name published. He works a full-time job as a social worker, but his salary was cut earlier this year. He figured he would make some extra bucks by starting an eBay business, buying clearance items from local stores and selling them for a mark-up.

A single dad, Robert told me he checks eBay activity from his smartphone during his lunch hour and mails items out on Saturdays. He's been particularly busy during the holidays.

Still, he doesn't want his boss to know about his sideline. ``He cut my hours, so he must figure that I need to make up the difference, but I don't want to make an issue out of it.''

23 PERCENT

According to a January survey conducted by The Daily Beast, 23 percent of those polled have more than one paying job. Some said their second job was a hobby that had morphed into a money-making operation. Others, like Robert, experienced pay cuts, wage freezes or reduced hours and need the extra income to sustain a basic standard of living.

People working multiple jobs come from just about every demographic group -- across age, race, gender and marital status lines -- from the very young to the highly educated, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More men moonlight, though the number of women doing so has risen dramatically over the last decade.

The trend poses a dilemma for workers and employers alike. If an employee is moonlighting, should he or she tell the boss? Should an employer have a say in what an employee does during his off hours?

``There's a weird dichotomy that goes on,'' says Randall Hansen, founder of QuintCareers.com, a career development website. ``Even in the worst of times, employers still expect loyalty, even when they are not loyal to their employees.''

Hansen says more employers expect 24/7 availability from workers.

He tells workers that if there is any hint of a company policy that addresses moonlighting, talk it over with your boss. ``You don't want to risk losing your primary job.''

Of course, for employees, being upfront can erase the stress and unease of moonlighting covertly.

Stephanie Hanna works 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. as an office assistant at Right Management in Florida. After hours, she designs, sews and embroiders personalized baby clothes at home.

Hanna says she made her employer well aware of her outside business, Brag About Baby, from the time she took the job. ``They are very supportive,'' she says.

Some of her co-workers and managers have bought baby clothing from her, increasing her dedication to her day job. ``I owe it to my bosses. They are nice enough to support me.''

CONCERNS

In some cases, employers' concerns with moonlighting are justified.

If employees are hustling to take care of multiple jobs, sometimes things slip. Fatigue, transportation glitches and lack of sleep can become issues and affect work quality, says John Robinson, an employment attorney with Fowler White Boggs of Tampa. Legally, employers can prohibit or severely limit moonlighting.

Robinson suggests employers take a proactive approach, even if they decide to allow it: ``Tell employees that moonlighting isn't the problem -- lying about it is. Let the workforce know that you understand their dilemma in a bad economy and emphasize that you expect employees to be at work and on time. The bottom line is that you do not want moonlighting to affect your operation,'' he says.

One employer, Peggy Nordeen, CEO of Starmark International, has mixed feelings about allowing her workers to hold multiple jobs.

``We like 100 percent effort from our folks,'' she says. However at this time, she says employers may need to be flexible. ''I do think there should be a great deal of consideration that these are hard times for families.''

Comments

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earn money at home

After reading this article it makes me so thankful that I have the ability to work from home. I own my own party favor business where I can personalize party favors right from my home. I used to work in an insurance office and they would watch their employees like hawks. A week before my husband and I were going on a vacation, I looked up a restaurant location on my break while I was at work and got talked to about it. Some workplaces are overly cautious on their employees.

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