how “overemployment” quietly triumphs

Elena* is a journalist, and after the crisis of 2008, when her business was able to last a few years without letting go, the dreaded ERE arrived and took her job away. After a time of unemployment and retraining, she began to work thanks to small orders from clients who wanted to open up to social networks or asked her to write texts for their web pages. It all didn’t add up “not even to finish the normal average month”, according to herself, and she ended up accepting a new, not very well paid position at a marketing agency taking advantage of her newfound knowledge. It was in 2014.

“At the beginning it cost me a little more and I had to quit my job for clients, but after six or seven months I had understood the trick better and I thought I could do my normal day, without overtime that nobody was paying me, and then internally to spend a few hours a day with external clients. until I realized that if I slowed down at the agency nothing would happen, because there were a lot of people slower than me, so I started freelancing during the day, without the boss noticing, of course,” he explained a few years later.


Elena’s practice has become more popular lately, especially since the pandemic has suddenly accelerated the rise of telecommuting by several years, as well as the destruction of the geographical barriers that online implies, the flexibility of work in the digital age or the fact of being able to carry out the activity even from home, at any time. Everything adds up.

This is the trend which, in English, is known as overworked (“overemployed”), which, although it has nuances about achieving financial freedom; Its epicenter is the exercise of two simultaneous jobs without the knowledge of their employers. He even has his subredditan unofficial validator of some relevance online where you can also see how those who work simultaneously with two professions organize themselves.

For example, the office of someone who not only has two jobs that requires him, as a security measure, to use two different computers. But you can even afford to have an iPad to watch Netflix in the meantime.

Or how someone with not one but three jobs gets through airport screening.

The magic of being overworked.

Elena, in a slightly decaffeinated version, always is. “I’m careful not to overload myself and end up causing problems for my company or clients. I live in a province where our whole industry gets to know each other, so after a while I told my boss that I was going to start taking commissions outside of what my company didn’t offer, for do outside my working hours. This is not entirely true, but I already have an age and the salaries in this sector are not much if you’re not a partner or an eminence, well that’s what it is”.

Like Elena there are others, and as we said, they proliferated especially after the start of the pandemic. One of these cases, and with similar characteristics, is that told by Carla, who did not experience it in the first person, but witnessed it in her previous company.

“In digital marketing it is very common for an employee to have things outside of their working day (copywriting, SEO audits, advertising campaigns…). Many do not hide it and in the interview they have already advanced that they had their own website and some clients are permissive with that as long as the person is transparent and does nothing outside during their working hours I had a somewhat problematic colleague who was doing things outside without anyone knowing, and one day by mistake sending an email to human resources received the wrong attachment and sent an invoice created from his work device to invoice the tasks of referencing to an external company”.

This incident, with Human Resources moreover, did not turn into a dismissal for a specific reason. “They wanted to fire him, but at that time there was so little availability of SEO technicians, with such a high salary demand, that they couldn’t afford to fire him and they ate him with potatoes. land for a few more years until he was the one who decided to leave.”

From employee to entrepreneur

A variant of this valiant moonlighting is that of those who are not exactly dedicated to working for two different companies at the same time, but that of who combine working for someone, and at the same time, start their own business. Something also conducive to companies that can only start with their founder and do not require more infrastructure than a computer and an Internet connection.

For example, an SEO or marketing agency, or an agency whose product is software. Again, something that is far ahead in the United States compared to Spain, although we are already seeing how the little leg appears.

An anonymous source linked to labor councils explains that this is something that has been happening, especially since the pandemic, among civil servants. Both the simultaneous work of two, and the creation of a business. “Some work for a consulting firm or create one directly, for example, because their experience and knowledge are there.” As they do? “They present themselves as self-employed. But not them, because being civil servants they cannot do it. They usually do it through their spousethat they even unload on purpose for that”.

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For someone who is not a civil servant or does not have a contract that specifically mentions exclusivity as a requirement, this last step would not be necessary. “When a third party bills you, it’s usually because there is something clearly irregular. Or because your level of income would lead to a profit and loss account in which the Treasury would give you a good stick”, explains Fernando Zaplana, director of Decyde, a Labor Council of Murcia.

Someone who hides two jobs at the same time from his company and exceeds the contribution limit will pay more for his social security, but he will clearly compensate you

This also explains that moonlighting which attempts to combine two jobs for others in the same working day is not the same as traditional moonlighting. The first is that which straddles the days or even. “It would even be fair cause for dismissal.”

The most traditional moonlighting, such as working Monday through Friday in an office and weekends in a restaurant, presents no problems beyond the fatigue it can cause the person. But in cases of undeclared work like the one we are pointing out, there may be an additional conflict: exceeding the maximum contribution ceiling, estimated at 4,139.40 euros per month. “If someone exceeds this limit, they must notify the companies that hired them, because this person and companies pay more to social security. It is not very common, but it must be notified to avoid an overvaluation”, explains Fernando.

In the case of employees who hide their dual position, this is not feasible, but it has no consequences beyond the fact that the companies and themselves pay more. In the case of communicating it, perhaps the two would do without it, so it is clearly profitable for the worker.

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In Fernando’s experience, this is already the case, especially in the liberal professions and also in the heat of the rise of telework. Not only because of people who have two remote positions, but also because being able to simultaneously have at least one remote position with another face-to-face makes this possible. The simultaneity of two face-to-face shifts with directly overlapping hours is impossible. “With people in the office it also happens, but with those who only telework it happens more, it’s more difficult for them to get caught,” explains the expert.

“There are even dismissals that ended up being unfair because it was not possible to prove that the person had another job. We could suspect him, we saw that he neglected his obligations, took a lot of time … But it couldn’t be proven. It’s usually hard to prove.”.

“If someone wanted to do this in good faith, they could speak directly to your company,” the adviser continues. “If you work by goals rather than hours and hit them well, you shouldn’t have a problem.” Although perhaps, despite the boom in overworked we see today, it is utopian to think that a company will accept such an agreement.

*All testimonial names in this report have been changed at the request of those interviewed.

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