By DENNIS NISHI
After working a full day at the stables of her horse transport and training business, Melissa Weiser heads to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.
But the 40-year-old from Los Angeles isn’t grabbing a drink with friends. She works evenings as a waitress to make up for the dip in her business and to get health insurance.
“I can be pretty exhausted by the end of the day,” she says, “but I manage by micromanaging every moment because I know I need to do both jobs well.” Ms. Weiser is one of 7.3 million Americans that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says hold more than one job simultaneously.
Although moonlighting sounds like a good way to earn extra income or make up for pay cuts, career experts say workers should think twice before taking on a second job. The additional load can increase job stress, lead to burnout and potentially jeopardize your day job. So it’s important to plan carefully and factor in time and expenses like commuting and child care.
Employees should review their employment agreement and handbook for rules about taking on a second job. Many companies have non-compete policies that prohibit working for competitors or require employees to get approval of outside work to ensure there’s no conflict of interest.
Salaried employees should also consider their “duty of loyalty,” a legal obligation to act in the interest of the employer, says Debra Katz, lead partner at Katz, Marshall & Banks, a Washington, D.C., law firm that specializes in employment law. You don’t want to give employers the impression that you’re always tired, late for work and less committed. “It gives employers grounds to say that your work is suffering and this can affect your employment status, pay and promotions,” she says.
Even if disclosure isn’t required, Ms. Katz advises being forthright about the second job to avoid future problems. Plus, an understanding boss can help make your juggle easier.
But be sure to keep the two jobs separate. Don’t work on outside projects while on company time, and don’t use any company resources for outside work. Both actions can get you sacked.
There also are tax considerations. “An increase in combined pay may put you into a higher tax bracket, but it will only be a percentage of what you make so you’ll almost always be better off financially,” says Robert Wilson, a certified public accountant and investment adviser at Wealthcare Capital Management in Richmond, Va. He recommends consulting a financial planner, who might, for instance, suggest that you claim fewer exemptions on the second job or request that an additional 2.5% to 5% of your gross pay be withheld for taxes.
Finally, don’t sacrifice adequate sleep or a healthy diet since you’re putting more demand on your body.