About 79% of remote or hybrid employees are working two jobs at once, according to recent findings from a Resume Builder survey of 1,250 full-time remote workers in the U.S.
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The growing trend of working two remote jobs has become so popular that it has even inspired a website called “Overemployed,” which is “a community of professionals looking to work two remote jobs, earn extra income, and achieve financial freedom.” The site features blog posts on topics like avoiding lifestyle creep when making $600,000 a year, and understanding how background checks work for multiple employment.
But what are the implications of being overemployed as a remote worker? Is working two full-time jobs the same thing as working two remote jobs? Is it ethical, or even legal? And what are the tax implications of such an arrangement? Read on to learn about how working two remote jobs can affect you.
Is Working 2 Remote Jobs Legal?
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Before deciding whether to pursue virtual overemployment opportunities, it’s important to have a clear understanding of whether or not it’s legal to do so. Heather Weine Brochin, partner and chair of the employment and labor group at Day Pitney LLP, says that the law does not prevent employees from holding more than one job. In fact, she notes that some state laws prohibit employers from interfering with employees who want to hold a different job outside of their ordinary employment hours through “moonlighting.”
Brochin also points out some potential legal complications for employees who work multiple remote jobs at once.
“From a legal perspective, holding two positions remotely (at the same time) is duplicitous behavior that could be challenged if the positions overlap and employer intellectual property or confidential information is being misused between and among positions,” she says.
Is Working 2 Remote Jobs Ethical?
While it may be legal to work two full-time remote jobs simultaneously, it may not be ethical in certain circumstances.
“In my opinion, the behavior is unethical as it involves stealing time from an employer – meaning if a person is paid for 40 hours of work but is not actually devoting those 40 hours to exclusively one employer’s work, the person is getting paid for time not worked,” says Brochin.
In explaining her position, Brochin stresses that while it’s nothing new for some employees to work different shifts of different hourly jobs or for office employees to moonlight with a part-time hourly position in the evening, the remote (and even hybrid) work model has resulted in concerns from employers that employees may be working for more than one employer at the same time.
“What is new is that employees may be holding full-time positions at the same time during the same working hours,” she says. “These employees may be multi-tasking but are certainly depriving each employer of their full business time and attention.”
Can You Be Fired for Working 2 Full-time Jobs Remotely?
You may feel that both of your remote jobs are safe, since it isn’t illegal to hold two remote jobs at once. However, that doesn’t mean that your choice to work for two employers remotely won’t result in being fired from one or both positions.
“Employers absolutely can terminate at-will employees for any reason, so long as not prohibited by statute,” Brochin says. “Dishonesty is certainly a legitimate reason for terminating an employee.”
What’s important is to understand the specific policies for each of your employers, since some companies have clear policies setting forth expectations of their employees during working hours. “Many offer letters explain that the full-time work is exclusive,” Brochin says.
“Policies require employees to work during business hours. Some employers require express permission before an employee assumes any outside employment or even a non-profit or volunteer engagement.”
In the past, these types of policies were designed to ensure no conflict of interest between the outside opportunity and the employment position, Brochin says. However, she says this type of policy now allows employers to expressly evaluate whether another position actually overlaps in time and work demands.
“Of course, it is likely that employees who are engaging in full-time remote work for two employers will not disclose such work under an employer policy,” Brochin says
What Are the Tax Implications of Working 2 Remote Jobs?
According to Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt, the IRS doesn’t care how many jobs you have or how you earn your income – what matters is that it’s reported accurately.
“There aren’t ‘special tax rules’ for taxpayers who hold multiple jobs at the same time,” Steber stated, explaining that if you work for two different employers, you’ll receive two W-2s. “Both should be reported on a tax return as standard W-2s,” Steber says. “All wage jobs from employers get added up and included on line 1A of the 1040.”
In the case of having both an employer and contract, plus a side gig or self-employment income, the taxpayer will need to report the employer wages with a W-2 and have a separate Schedule C for their self-employment income.
“On the Schedule C, taxpayers will report their self-employment income as well as possible business-related deductions,” Steber says. “If both full-time jobs are self-employment or side gigs – even jobs like being a rideshare driver or selling goods online – all income will be reported on Schedule Cs.”
Another point that’s critical to remember from a tax standpoint, Steber says, is that there are generally no deductions for taxpayers with only standard wage income from their employers. “Also, just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can claim your home office as a deduction,” Steber says. “If income, or a home office deduction, isn’t reported correctly and accurately, there is risk that could bring IRS penalties and interest.”