If you’ve ever held a security clearance* – and certainly if you’ve ever struggled to obtain or retain one – you know that the government’s proverbial blessing is a valuable commodity. So valuable, in fact, that while some workers in private industry face challenges finding employment, security clearance holders may find themselves with multiple job opportunities and fielding unsolicited calls from head-hunters.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in that position, it can be tempting to consider working two cleared jobs – even two full-time cleared jobs – simultaneously to stockpile cash, payoff debt, or retire early. We’ve seen plenty of clearance-holders do that over the years, including those who worked predominantly from home and one particularly hearty soul who worked a full-time job during the day, slept for a few hours in the early evening, then reported to another full-time job for the overnight shift.
To be certain, federal employees don’t have this same option; it would generally be an unlawful and/or unethical conflict of interest to simultaneously work for the government and a company that contracts with the government. Government contractors don’t have the same legal limitations, but they do have others. Among them are whether one or both employers would view working for the other as a violation of company policy, a non-disclosure agreement, or a non-competition clause. This would be especially likely if both employers work in the same industry (e.g. aerospace) and compete for the same contracts.
Another issue to consider is the extent to which working more than one job may adversely impact job performance at both positions. An employee who is tired, burned out, or otherwise unmotivated may be of little use to the employer, limiting the potential for bonuses, promotions, and pay raises – and perhaps even increasing the likelihood of termination. Such consequences may render the entire original purpose of the arrangement moot and adversely impact future employability.
Finally, one of the most significant issues we’ve seen with working two jobs simultaneously is the allegation of time-card fraud levied against the employee by one or both employers. Unless you have clearly defined, non-overlapping work hours for both positions (like the aforementioned individual who worked both day and night shifts in different office spaces) you may find yourself facing some serious questions about how you are accounting for and billing your time. Like any allegation of moral turpitude, this can be the kiss of death for a security clearance.
It is not impossible or out of the question to work two cleared contracting jobs – even two full-time cleared contracting jobs. But if you’re considering such an arrangement, the safest and most advisable route is to first have a candid discussion about the proposed arrangement with both employers’ human resources or legal departments. Be prepared to present a clear plan for differentiating work hours/tasks for one employer from the other; demonstrate through non-proprietary information (e.g. company brochures, etc.) that no conflict of interest exists; and document the exchange carefully in written format, such as emails. Securing both employers’ informed consent in writing may be vital to protecting your interests down the road.
*For simplicity’s sake, and because they are generally adjudicated under the same standards, positions designated as “Public Trust” or “Sensitive National Security Duties” are considered here as “cleared positions” despite not denoting access to classified information.
This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation.