A full-time job can take a lot out of a person. For some people, 40 hours a week is just the beginning. So with work being such a huge part of our life, it’s nice to enjoy the time outside of work; our own time. So how much control, if any, can an employer have on your off-duty activities?
First of all, government and public entity employees do have constitutional rights to privacy. Their employers must follow strict rules that limit the monitoring and inquiring of their employee’s off-duty activities. The private sector must also abide by different rules regarding employee privacy, but it varies a bit more from state to state.
Some people wonder why an employer would even care what their employees are doing, as long as it’s not affecting their ability to work. There are quite a few reasons why an employer would worry about their employees off-duty behaviors, including; bad health habits increasing healthcare costs, dating a competitor and releasing proprietary information, or any activities that affect their employees’ productivity like a second job or an energy-consuming hobby. So what exactly can your employer monitor or restrict?
Working a second job – Working a second job is almost always legal and your employer has no authority in banning you from doing so. Your employer can, however, set guidelines for after-hours work that conflict with their own business interests. An employer does have the right to set guidelines to guarantee your allegiance and dedication to your primary job. Some of these guidelines can include; not allowing an employee to work for their competition, not allowing paid time off to be used for outside employment, and not allowing the use of their tools or equipment for outside work.
Union Involvement – This one is very simple and clear; an employer cannot monitor or control any of their employees union activities whatsoever, by rule of the National Labor Relations Act.
Fraternization – While it used to be standard procedure to forbid dating and fraternization among coworkers, these kinds of policies have become controversial. Generally the courts will side with employers, since there is a very real possibility of work performance suffering or being adversely affected. However, state laws prohibiting marital status discrimination and gender discrimination can make these policies difficult to enforce, not to mention you could lose good employees who choose to maintain their relationship over their job. For these reasons, many companies have moved to a more general rule of prohibiting supervisor/subordinate relationships, which will obviously affect the work relationship and can lead to unfair treatment of employees.
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About the Author: Jeff Davis is the Owner of the Davis law firm and a highly experienced San Antonio employment law attorney. To find out more information about a San Antonio employment lawyer, please visit www.jeffdavislawfirm.com.