By Jennifer Lankford, Labor and Employment Attorney
Moonlighting. Daylighting. Side Hustle. No matter how you describe it, second jobs or passions turned profits are common among nurse practitioners. Given the unique work hours of many NPs, you may have downtime that can be used to pick up nursing work for another health care provider, or, as is becoming more and more common, to pursue an entirely different career. Before signing on for a second job or promoting your Etsy shop among co-workers and on social media, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Be Conscious of Your Social Media Activity.
These days, I often hear from NPs and other workers who enjoy flexing their entrepreneurial muscle between shifts, selling cosmetics, jewelry, and other products. A large part of such sales is generated by maintaining an online presence. NPs will use Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, Twitter and the like to promote their products and services to their friends, family, and connections. But, before hitting “Post,” there are some pointers to keep in mind.
First, while employment laws protect certain discussions on social media, such as comments on working conditions or pay, you can find yourself in hot water if you promote your side hustle during work hours. Many employees shoot a quick tweet or Insta out to their friends and family, only to be counseled by Human Resources about improper activity during working hours. Most employers could care less about your Ebay shop or promotional efforts after hours, but a company is likely to take issue with any working time that is dedicated to something other than your job. For the same reasons that employers do not want employees to bring visitors to work, employers also don’t want employees focused on promoting a product instead of focusing on their job functions, for instance, on patient care. If frequent social media posts are made during working hours, you can bet that a reprimand is headed your direction. I encourage employees to be respectful of their employer’s time, i.e., focus on work solely when on the clock. As a result, employers are more likely to be respectful of their workers’ time, and less likely to monitor or take issue with any interests turned income pursued outside of work.
2. Check Your Contract.
Moonlighting for health care providers is increasingly common since the demand for nursing personnel remains high. If your schedule allows, you may take a second job to capitalize on the need for NPs. If you signed a contract, it is best to double check what, if any, limitations are set on your ability to work for another health care provider. Most employment contracts require workers to give their full faith and attention to their practice during working hours, but do not otherwise restrict what a worker can do on his or her own time. If there is a restriction on moonlighting in general within your contract, you should check your states laws to see if the limitation on your ability to maintain a second job is enforceable where you work. Many states prohibit anti-moonlighting clauses within contracts or similar policies in employee handbooks. If your second job involves working for another health care provider, be sure to double check any restrictive covenants, e.g., non-compete provisions, in your contract, if applicable. It is not uncommon to prohibit an employee from having a second job with a direct competitor.
3. Speaking of Employee Handbooks . . .
Even where there is no contract in place, it is likely that the Employee Handbook has a policy addresses outside employment and whether it is permitted by the company. As noted above, the laws of your state may govern to what extent moonlighting or side hustles can be restricted by your employer.
The key is to keep the work separate. If you don’t let your side hustle or second job interfere with work responsibilities, then (barring any contractual or company policy against such activities) you will reap the benefits of both.
Jennifer Lankford is an associate attorney at Thompson Burton, focusing her practice on labor and employment law. If you have questions about nurse practitioner employment, Jennifer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.