I caught my employee secretly working a second remote job. Here's why I decided to fire them — and why I think overemployment is unethical.

As the CEO of a fully remote business, I was faced with a challenging situation in January when I discovered that one of my employees was secretly working a second full-time remote job. This is how it all played out, and why I ultimately decided to terminate his employment.

The employee in question was based in Peru and had been hired in 2022. Initially, he performed his duties very well. However, over time I began receiving complaints from clients about missed assignments and deadlines. He also became quite unresponsive. These issues started to become somewhat regular.

When the employee began refusing certain shifts he usually worked, I grew suspicious that he might be doing something on the side. But without proof, I didn't want to jump to conclusions. Instead, I held one-on-one meetings with him to discuss his job performance. Despite some signs of improvement, his overall performance did not change much. This put a significant burden on the rest of the team, who had to cover his shifts and deal with the missed deadlines.

The turning point came in December when my company rolled out a time-tracking software called DeskTime. As part of my plan to introduce a four-day workweek, I wanted to better understand how employees were spending their time to boost productivity. After a few weeks of tracking, I noticed that the data for this struggling employee showed regular activity for a US-based company. It became clear he was working for another employer during his paid hours.

The DeskTime data, including screenshots, confirmed that he was spending close to half his work time on tasks for the other company. I terminated his employment the next day. While the tracked data provided the hard proof I needed, the other signs - missed deadlines, lack of flexibility, and unresponsiveness - had already made me certain that he was not giving his full attention to his role.

Shortly after I fired him, he updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect that he was now working full-time at the other company. 

I know this decision may be controversial, but I fundamentally disagree with the trend of "overemployment." I believe it is unethical and unfair to the rest of the team who have to cover for someone's poor performance. I also don't think a person can be truly productive working two full-time jobs simultaneously. As an entrepreneur, I have to prioritize the needs of my business and clients. 

I don't object to people having side hustles, as long as it doesn't impact the quality of their primary job. But in this case, the employee's actions were selfish and disrespectful to the team. I had no choice but to let him go. 

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