Meet Bob. Bob has 20 days' paid leave from his work. When he is taking this time off and being paid for it, is there anything wrong with him doing other paid work for another person or company?

  • 1
    I bet Bob is a fire fighter, and his second job is either a taxi driver or window cleaner ;)
    – user35069
    Commented Sep 24, 2022 at 23:18
  • 4
    Why moves you to make this wager? @Rick Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 6:02
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    Sorry, in-joke. In my circles firefighters are known for having a 2nd, or even a 3rd, job due to their 4 day, 2 nights, 4 days off shift pattern.
    – user35069
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 18:19
  • 2
    @fectin sure things can get complicated, but you can ask the tax office, a taxes expert, or intentionally overpay and get the refund later. So these things require some thought but aren't showstoppers.
    – toolforger
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 11:00
  • 2
    Australia made it illegal for COVID related employees (like quarantine hotel security guards) to have a second job.
    – mcalex
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 5:29

6 Answers 6


In general, in the US, Bob may do this. If the second company is a competitor of the first and Bob has access to confidential information from his first employer, then there could be an issue.

Some employers require their employees, or some of them, to agree to "exclusive employment", that is to agree not to accept any other employment while employed by the company. If Bob has agreed to such a contract, he would be in breach of it if he took a second job and could be fired if his main employer learns of this. This is not a problem if Bob gets permission for the vacation work from his usual employer.

In any case, Bob is not committing a crime, even if he is violating his contract.

  • 1
    I've heard of "exclusive" clauses in employment contracts, but never seen one. I've encountered plenty of, "No compete," clauses. So, providing the work does not cause a conflict of interest in regards to Bob's primary employment, there's no reason for it to really be an issue. Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 21:02
  • 1
    I have myself, and seen a lot of contracts like it, that require that I disclose any other current/future employment. In that case Bob would be required to tell his company about the vacation work.
    – blues
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 10:58
  • @GeoffAtkins Generally the way I see that done is by implementing a Conflict of Interest policy that is defined so widely that it essentially includes all other possible non-volunteer employment. This tends to happen in the employee handbook and not in the contract.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 18:24
  • Based purely on the answers to this question, I guess this freedom is a secret benefit of living in a country that doesn't guarantee paid leave to employees (the USA). It looks like Europe and South Africa only have laws about this because it's the law that gives you the paid leave, unlike in the USA, where it's governed by your contract.
    – Mr. Nichan
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 4:05

(and probably most of Europe)

This can be a breach of work laws, and is only allowed under certain conditions

The law (in particular OR 329a) states that any employee has the right for at least 4 weeks of vacation every year. The purpose of the vacation is for the employee to recover from work. Any activity that contradicts that is not allowed.

Important is also to remember that the vacation is salaried. So even though the employee lies on the beach, he's actually paid (and insured!) for that by the employer. The employee may not take an extra job that harms the legitimate interests of his employer, which may include his interest that the employee returns with his full mental and physical strength recovered. OR 329d:

1 The employer must pay the employee the full salary due for the holiday entitlement and fair compensation for any lost benefits in kind.

2 During the employment relationship, the holiday entitlement may not be replaced by monetary payments or other benefits.

3 If while on holiday, the employee carries out paid work for a third party which harms the employer’s legitimate interests, the employer may refuse to pay the salary due for the holidays concerned and may reclaim any salary already paid.

(Edited, thanks to @xngtng) This federal court decision (in french) confirms that this rule has to be laid out rather strict any hard work for a third party by definition contradicts the idea of vacations:

Le travailleur qui met à profit le temps des vacances pour réaliser un gain supplémentaire au détriment du repos et de la détente qu'exige le but des vacances lèse nécessairement les intérêts légitimes de l'employeur, car le but des vacances est de permettre au travailleur de se reposer effectivement pour recouvrer sa pleine capacité de travail après les fatigues éprouvées pendant l'année de service [Many references to law commentaries].

L'opinion professée par ces auteurs est conforme au but de la loi et mérite d'être approuvée. On ne saurait admettre, en effet, que le salarié perçoive le salaire des vacances sans se reposer effectivement, puisque, dans une telle hypothèse, l'employeur se bornerait à le payer pour qu'il double ses gains (comme en l'espèce), sans se remettre nullement de ses fatigues. Le repos inhérent aux vacances serait alors remplacé par de l'argent, ce que la loi prohibe expressément (art. 329d al. 2 CO)

[Roughly translated] A worker who takes advantage of vacation time to make extra money at the expense of the rest and relaxation, which is the purpose of the vacation, necessarily harms the legitimate interests of the employer, because the purpose of the vacation is to allow the worker to rest effectively in order to recover one's full capacity for work after the fatigue experienced during the year of service [Many references to law comments]. The opinion professed by these authors is in accordance with the purpose of the law and deserves to be approved. It cannot be accepted, in fact, that the employee receives the holiday pay without actually resting, since, in such a case, the employer would limit himself to paying him so that he doubles his earnings (as in the present case), without in any way recovering from his fatigues. The rest inherent in the holidays would then be replaced by money, which the law expressly prohibits (OR 329d Art. 2)

It is of course legal to have more than one job, but in that case the jobs must not interfere with each other, particularly not in a sense that could result in the employer being unfit for work the next morning. (Example: Working a night shift in a bar on Friday nights might be ok, working a night shift every day in addition to a "normal" office job probably not)

Germany's rules are even more strict. I found this quote:

Nach dem Mindesturlaubsgesetz dürfen Arbeitnehmer/innen während des Urlaubs keine dem "Urlaubszweck widersprechende Erwerbstätigkeit leisten".

§8 Erwerbstätigkeit während des Urlaubs - Mindesturlaubsgesetz für Arbeitnehmer
Während des Urlaubs darf der Arbeitnehmer keine dem Urlaubszweck widersprechende Erwerbstätigkeit leisten.

During the holiday, the employee may not engage in any gainful employment that conflicts with the purpose of the holiday.


People are allowed to work multiple jobs

Unless they enter a contract agreeing not to.

  • 25
    Note that is isn't always true internationally. In India, for instance, working two jobs at the same time is illegal - and the "releasing letters" used to prove it are a frequent source of questions on the Workplace SE site.
    – nick012000
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 3:35
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 22:12
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    I recommend that you provided references for this and go into more detail, otherwise to just post a comment. Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 22:57
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    This answer is wrong as stated. It is true in some jurisdictions and not in others as all the other answers carefully note by using appropriate jurisdiction flags.
    – quarague
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 6:52

It is forbidden for a private sector employee to work for another party while on pay leave, unless it's volunteer work (i.e. unpaid). Article D3141-2 - Code du travail

Le salarié qui accomplit pendant sa période de congés payés des travaux rémunérés, privant de ce fait des demandeurs d'emploi d'un travail qui aurait pu leur être confié, peut être l'objet d'une action devant le juge du tribunal judiciaire en dommages et intérêts envers le régime d'assurance chômage.

Both the employee and the employer are at risk of legal action.

Public sector employees are granted more freedom to do so, within some limits.

Oui, pendant vos congés annuels, vous pouvez exercer certaines activités accessoires à votre emploi principal dans la fonction publique.

Les activités accessoires cumulables avec un emploi public sont limitativement énumérées par la loi. Elles varient selon que vous travaillez à temps plein, à temps partiel ou sur un emploi à temps non complet ou incomplet.

La loi ne donne pas d'indication précise sur le nombre d'heures ou la rémunération que l'activité ne doit pas dépasser pour être considérée comme accessoire. Il doit s'agir d'une activité occasionnelle, ou régulière, mais limitée dans le temps.

L'exercice d'une activité accessoire est, selon l’activité, soumis à l'autorisation préalable de l'administration ou soumis à déclaration ou libre.

In both cases, employees can benefit from an exception for the grape harvest (Contrat vendanges).

Tous les salariés, y compris les salariés en congés payés et les agents publics, peuvent être embauchés par le biais du contrat vendanges.

En principe, un salarié en congés payés n’a pas le droit de travailler et un agent public de cumuler son emploi avec un poste privé.

Le contrat vendanges constitue une dérogation. Néanmoins, les intéressés doivent obtenir l’accord de leur employeur habituel quant à la date et la durée de leurs congés avant de s’engager dans un contrat vendanges.


In Poland, the labour courts have rules that limiting one's employment is illegal save for very specific situations, and even a non-compete clause cannot be too broad as to limit one's capacity to work in the field in general.


South Africa

Because there are a slew of labour laws governing full time employees a person is only allowed one full time job. There is UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund ) which is mandatory goverment unemployment insurance. This is a deduction that every full time employee's employer has to deduct and pay.

If a person has two full-time jobs then he becomes double insured. Something which puts employers in a bad position as they cannot choose not to pay UIF and it is illegal to have double insurance. There is also probably similar problems with other mandatory insurances specific to technical fields as well

Although you can have a full time position and a part time job or just several part time positions. These part time jobs are considered more temporary and have fewer legal obligations.

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