Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published a fascinating article on “a small, dedicated group of white-collar workers, in industries from tech to banking to insurance,” who have doubled their salaries by working two-full time remote jobs simultaneously on the sly. “Why be good at one job,” the Journal rhetorically asked, “when they could be mediocre at two?”

The article framed this phenomenon as a product of the pandemic, and a shift to remote work for many previously office-tied employees. COVID-19 undoubtedly poured accelerant on the trend, but double-dipping from the employer cookie-jar is nothing new. I wrote about the issue here in 2019.

The Fallout from Two Jobs

You can read my 2019 article and reach your own conclusions about the wisdom of trying to take advantage of a system that many employees apparently feel has taken advantage of them. I’ll add, however, that in the subsequent two and a half years since writing it, I’ve seen a few more enterprising souls get nailed for attempting to pull one over on “the man” in the same or a similar way.

Say what you will about the dramatic shortcomings in the federal government’s background investigation process, but this is an issue that’s hard for investigators to miss. All but one of these folks lost their security clearances and their careers as a result. A couple narrowly avoided prosecution for federal program fraud (in essence, allegedly bilking the taxpayers out of money by falsely claiming to have worked certain hours on U.S. government contracts when evidence showed otherwise).

I see a lot of wild stuff come across my desk, and I make it a point to never judge my clients. That being said, I’m consistently amazed at the level of risk some people are willing to take relative to the potential reward. Yes, doubling your salary sounds nice, but it loses luster really fast when you consider what a fraud prosecution would mean for your future employment prospects, not to mention your freedom. Good luck finding employment again with a conviction like that on your record.

How to Work the Two Jobs and Stay Out of Court

There is, however, a way to attain the same objective without that risk. As I pointed out in 2019, it requires radical transparency with both employers and an ironclad paper trail. It also necessarily means working just about every waking hour – quite literally being a slave to your paycheck – since you’ll have to arrange a schedule that doesn’t involve overlapping work hours.

If you can manage that kind of lifestyle, have a reason for doing it worth sacrificing sleep and personal time, and can get employer buy-in, you’ve theoretically inoculated yourself against the type of fall-out I described above. Just be sure that you’ve adequately considered the pros and the cons of the workaholic life.

 

This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Although the information is believed to be accurate as of the publication date, no guarantee or warranty is offered or implied.  Laws and government policies are subject to change, and the information provided herein may not provide a complete or current analysis of the topic or other pertinent considerations. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

 

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Attorney Sean M. Bigley represents clients worldwide in security clearance denials, revocations, and the security clearance application process. He is a former investigator for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (then-U.S. Office of Personnel Management). For more information, please visit www.bigleylaw.com. Readers will also find a low-cost, self-help option for obtaining copies of their security clearance background investigations and DISS/Scattered Castles records at www.bigleylaw.com/security-clearance-investigation-records.