Managing Your Moonlighting Employees


About 8 million employees — roughly 5 percent of the U.S. workforce — hold second jobs. Given the tight labor market in the hospitality industry, it’s not uncommon for hourlies to moonlight with other restaurants, possibly even your competitors. How you manage moonlighting employees can play a critical role in successful employee relations.

You have every right to expect flexibility from your staff. On the other hand, asking moonlighting employees to blow off their other jobs to accommodate a hole in your schedule may force them into the tough position of weighing loyalty.

Other challenges may surface, too. The way your restaurant handles food and beverage, for example, may conflict with procedures elsewhere. Say you have a bartender who works a second job where price structure and drink recipes are different. Perhaps the other place allows free pouring and you don’t. Opposing operational standards may come into play.

Some competing managers may even try to recruit your moonlighters full time. Employees know how much they’re in demand. It doesn’t take a whole lot — a rough shift, a difference in base pay — to tip the scales against you. Banning second jobs is unenforceable as a matter of law. It’s also likely to cast you in a bad light. More often than not, moonlighters aren’t choosing to get a second job — they have to get one.

A positive way to handle moonlighting is to be the employer of choice. Ask employees why they’re working second jobs. Schedule adjustments, cross training, additional shifts or even a small raise may keep them around. Your employee handbook should state that it’s okay to hold outside positions as long as performance requirements within your restaurant are met. Keep in mind that the goal isn’t to force moonlighters over to your side, but to win them over with understanding.

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