If you work 2 jobs, beware. Equifax can tell your boss

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Key points

  • Equifax has laid off 24 staff members after an investigation showed they were working two jobs.
  • Equifax’s tool, The Work Number, can access nearly 150 million work records.
  • If you’ve taken on extra work, make sure you know what your contract says and stay on top of your current responsibilities.

More and more Americans are working second jobs these days as the spiraling cost of living has hammered their bank balances. Some have had to dip into their savings to cover current expenses, others have gone into debt, and still others increase their income by working more.

According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, nearly 5% of workers hold more than one job. This percentage is much higher if you also take into account secondary agitations. Zapier research shows that 40% of people have some kind of extra work, although for many this equates to less than 10 hours per week. If you’re one of them and your boss doesn’t know about it, a new tool from Equifax could land you in hot water.

Equifax fires 24 staff after thorough investigation

An Insider report revealed that Equifax had investigated about 1,000 employees in an effort to crack down on staff taking on second jobs. The agency fired 24 employees following its investigation. He claims that his workers are not contractually allowed to perform additional work without permission.

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Equifax is one of the leading credit reporting agencies in the United States, but that’s not all. One of its products, called The Work Number, provides income and employment verification services. With over 140 million active records, the company can access the employment information of millions of Americans.

The Insider article says Equifax used its The Work Number tool, along with other data, to uncover employees who held dual jobs. Other information included comments from managers, low login activity, and employee interviews. While Equifax says it complied with all relevant laws, a person interviewed by Insider questioned how it used its data to “spy” on its staff.

How to keep two jobs

One of the many consequences of the pandemic is that people’s approach to work is changing. For example, the growth of remote work has made it easier to take on extra work. Not only do people save time on daily commutes, but they also have more control over their schedules. Plus, there’s less oversight when people work from home.

At the same time, the higher cost of living has made it harder for people to make ends meet, increasing the allure of finding another source of income. But the Equifax affair shows that some employers are not happy with their workers working on the black market. Here are some basic rules to minimize the impact of your extracurricular work.

1. Check your contract

Every business is different. In some industries, it’s not uncommon for people to take on extra work. Others allow it as long as you don’t work for a competitor or require you to tell your supervisor. Still others don’t allow it at all. Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between working two jobs and taking on a side hustle. Make sure you know what your contract and employee handbook say before going too far down this road.

The ideal scenario is that you can be transparent about your extra work. If you can tell your business what you’re doing, you’ll waste less time worrying about what might happen if they find out. Research some of the benefits of side hustles and think about how they can benefit your employer. For example, you may learn new skills or feel invigorated. If you’re making a name for yourself on social media as an expert, some of that new pixie dust could spill over to your business.

2. Prioritize your main work

Be clear about your commitment to your main job. Your employer can reasonably expect you to work a certain number of hours per week and do the work they are paying you to do. But, unless you work for a competitor or sell company secrets, they have no right to tell you what to do in your spare time.

Let’s say you have a desk job but have started a side job selling smoothie packs from home. If your employer checks your work internet history and finds that you spend your work time ordering dates and cocoa nibs, you might have a problem. But if you’re meeting your deadlines, doing the job you’ve been hired to do, and not using office time to research the latest smoothie news, that may be a different story.

3. Avoid burnout

Doing two jobs can involve burning the candle at both ends and melting it a bit in the middle as well. You have to be extremely organized. Another challenge? Take time for yourself and your double professional life. It can be easy to neglect exercise, healthy eating, and sleep in the face of competing deadlines. The problem is that this can be counterproductive. You could spin the plates for a few months, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you could burn out and find yourself unable to do one job, let alone two.

At the end of the line

There’s a lot of appeal in starting a side hustle, especially if it translates to more money in your bank account. The trick is to manage it carefully so that it doesn’t compromise your main work. Know that Equifax’s new tool makes it easier for employers to discover any work you do next. This makes it all the more important to know what you are contractually authorized to do and to stay on top of your main responsibilities at work.

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