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Conflict of Interest with Second Job?

Is there a conflict of interest when a salaried employee uses their earned time (combined sick leave and vacation time) to attend training for a second job?

Not necessarily. You can reason that your employee would use his vacation anyway. Whether he is attending training classes or visiting Paris is really immaterial to you as an employer. (Either way, you have the right to approve vacations only at a time that is convenient for you as an employer. If the employee is requesting or demanding vacation at a time that is not convenient, that is a performance problem.)

Use of sick leave may be more problematic. Most employers allow employees to take sick leave only if they are sick. If that is your policy, you can deny the employees request for scheduled sick days to be used when the is healthy. However, if you have a history of allowing employees to use sick leave as if it were vacation time, then this is reasonable.

If the exempt employee is training in preparation to go to work for a competitor, that might very well be a conflict of interest. However, if he or she is preparing to work in an unrelated field, that would not generally be a conflict of interest.

Many small employers would see this as a sign of disloyalty. Those unenlightened employers treat exempt employees almost as if the employer owned the worker. A more enlightened view is to realize that exempt employees have a life. Very, very few employees in todays world are going to hold the same job for 55 years until they retire. It is reasonable to allow employees to pursue other opportunities, and even beneficial for the organization in the long run.

If the exempt employees second job starts to interfere with his performance at his primary job, that would be a problem. As an employer, you would address that performance issue. For example, if the exempt employee were unavailable for an emergency after hours, that would be a problem. But you should wait and see if this problem occurs, before you address it.

Some employers have policies against exempt employees holding a second job, or moonlighting, as it is called. Such policies are generally not enforcable. In some states such as Wisconsin, an employer who took action against an employee for this would be in violation of the law.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, July 24th, 2010 at 3:47 pm and is filed under
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