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I've read a few articles about people working two full time remote jobs (simultaneously, not moonlighting). Which doesn't seem possible but apparently they can pull it off! (I'm not sure if they maintain two separate LinkedIn profiles.)

If discovered, I can certainly see a company firing a double-timing employee, especially in an "At-Will" State.

But is it illegal to secretly work two full-time jobs simultaneously?

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  • 2
    What do you mean exactly by simultaneously? If both company A and B pay you to work from 9 to 5 and you claim to do both at the same time you are almost certainly in breach of contract. If on the other hand you work one job from 9 to 5 and the other from 6 to 2am that would still be illegal in most european jurisdictions but probably fine in the US.
    – quarague
    Oct 8, 2021 at 17:29
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    All legalities aside, you may find yourself unemployed if either company finds out about this.
    – jwh20
    Oct 8, 2021 at 17:57
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    @Relaxed It would be illegal in the European Union and the UK because of the working time directive (2003/88/EC) that is implemented in national law in all members of the European Union (and in the UK from when it still was a member), which means you're not allowed to work more than 48 hours per week on average, and it requires at least 11 consecutive hours of resting time per 24 hours, at least one day off per week, 4 weeks of paid holiday per year. Given employer(s) are legally responsible for this, they need to be aware of other employers and your working hours. Oct 9, 2021 at 6:42
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    @MarkRotteveel I suspected it was what quarague had it mind but that is not the plain meaning of the directive, it only says that employees are “entitled” to all this, i.e. that an employer cannot demand more. But here we are talking about someone doing it voluntarily, working for two employers, not something an employer would automatically be aware of. The EUCJ only recently established that it does apply across several contracts with the same employer (case C-585/19) so you can see that national law is still far from implementing the directive in the way you interpret it.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 9, 2021 at 9:23
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    At the same time, looking up case law I see that in some countries (e.g. France), employers' obligations to take into account working time for other employers and actively make sure their employees don't work more than X hours a week in total are indeed much more extensive than I suspected when writing my comment.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 9, 2021 at 9:25

5 Answers 5

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As quarague said in a comment, if there are two different jobs that you're claiming to work at the same time, then that's fraud. Even if you claim that you're working two different sets of hours, people will likely be quite skeptical of that claim. Companies generally have disclosure requirements, so if you don't disclose the other job, that would be fraud. Even it's not explicitly stated, it's generally understood to be part of the terms of employment that you will not have other jobs and will be able to provide your full attention to your job. There can also be conflict of interest issues, if your two employers have any relationship with each other.

Also, in the US, employers will generally ask you to fill out a W-4, which asks about multiple jobs. If you lie on the W-4, that's illegal, and can result in you having a very large tax liability (as the employers will be underwithholding).

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    I've filled out a lot of W4s in my life, they never asked me about multiple jobs. Looking at the form, it says to leave the deductions lines blank if having multiple jobs for more accurate withholding. But you're allowed to claim any number of deductions you want so long as you're accurate on your taxes in the end- you'll just either owe money or get a bigger refund. So no fraud there, and its not illegal to put anything you want on those w4 lines. Oct 12, 2021 at 1:15
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    @jwenting Exempt don't bill hours. At all. Not 8 hrs a day, not 1 hr a day. So no, its not fraud, its not theft, its not even breach of contract unless there's an explicit clause saying they won't work on other projects, and even then there'd be no damages to sue for. They could just use it as a reason to fire them. You're just wrong. Oct 13, 2021 at 4:22
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    It's not illegal to lie on your W4. If you use the IRS's own withholding calculator it'll tell you some completely arbitrary numbers to write on it to get the appropriate withholding. Underwithholding can result in taxes owed in April and possibly penalties if you underwithhold by a lot, but you can always pay estimated quarterly taxes to make up the difference.
    – Daniel
    Oct 14, 2021 at 10:32
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    Also who says you have to lie on your W4 to work multiple jobs?
    – Daniel
    Oct 14, 2021 at 10:35
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    "Disclosure requirements" and "terms of employment" are different from the law. Just because you could be fired doesn't mean it's illegal
    – Daniel
    Oct 14, 2021 at 10:39
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But is it illegal to secretly work two full-time jobs simultaneously?

Not in the US. Keep in mind, as you already pointed out, that if you are caught you could be fired from at least one of your jobs depending on their policy regarding this practice.

Also, if either or both jobs are even relatively demanding you can end up burning yourself out which could cause you to be terminated at one or both jobs due to the negative effects of burnout ( inability to properly and timely complete tasks ).

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    Contracts can make a difference though. If the job contract says you cannot work for anyone while you are employed with them (a common clause), it would be illegal to work for another company as you would be in breach of the agreement you signed. While your employer(s) may not be able to file a criminal complaint against you with the police, they can definitely slap a civil suit on you and drag you to court.
    – sfxedit
    Oct 9, 2021 at 0:33
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In the United States, laws vary by state, but generally there is nothing illegal about it.

Company policy may say otherwise, though, and you need to be very careful if one of your jobs is a government job doing business with your other job.

I'd take great pains to keep meticulous records of your hours for each job, being they are remote, and if they're using your computer (not remote access), setting up a second desk entirely wouldn't be a bad idea.

Also, don't double-expense things like your internet or cell phone bill. That could be construed as fraud.

Here is some worthwhile reading:

https://overemployed.com/legal-to-work-multiple-remote-jobs/

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  • Thanks Wesley. The Overemployed.com article is interesting - although I think there would be negative repercussions from getting fired from one of your jobs. When seeking out another job interviewers often want an explanation why you're unemployed.
    – RobertF
    Oct 9, 2021 at 17:39
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Despite the confusion, the answer is actually pretty straightforward, but it does depend on a few facts.

If you are being paid hourly, you are being paid to work for that employer during the period of time you are paid to work. While you might be able to juggle two separate "tasks," you're not really working on both tasks simultaneously, you're just bouncing back and forth between the two tasks. So, for part of this time, you're not actually working for the employer who is paying you hourly, and if you claim time for which you're not actually working for the employer, this is fraud and theft. Fraud and theft are crimes in every state.

If you're getting paid hourly and claiming the same hours at two different jobs, you are committing a crime. You could be charged and, if convicted, go to jail.

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If you are billing two companies for the same hours then you could be charged with theft. You are stealing from one of them.

It could even be worse if one of them was a government agency, or a government contract. You don't want to face federal charges.

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  • Isn't it more akin to fraud?
    – Relaxed
    Oct 9, 2021 at 0:07
  • @Relaxed Yes, it's more akin to fraud. Not sure why it would be theft Oct 9, 2021 at 2:57
  • Both result in jail time. Oct 9, 2021 at 12:06
  • In most places, theft, fraud and embezzlement will give you quite the same treatment even if they are legally not quite the same.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 11, 2021 at 14:02
  • If you're exempt, like the vast majority of office workers, you aren't charging for hours and thus there's no theft involved. Oct 12, 2021 at 1:17

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