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In the midst of a relentless cost-of-living crisis, the imperative to secure multiple income sources has become more than a mere choice — it’s a necessity for many grappling to stay afloat. Side hustles are no longer the exclusive domain of freelancers and artists but have become the financial lifeblood for middle-income earners seeking to navigate the choppy waters of modern living.

However, in the pursuit of financial resilience, a nuanced challenge emerges: the act of moonlighting. Moonlighting refers to the practice of secretly holding a second job or working additional hours outside of one’s primary employment. In essence, it involves taking on extra work, often during evenings or weekends, in addition to a full-time job. Very often second jobs are prohibited in the employment contract, so anyone with a second job immediately runs into problems.

As individuals navigate the landscape of secondary employment, they must tread carefully to avoid pitfalls that could lead to unintended consequences, including termination. While the allure of supplemental income is undeniable, the shadows of moonlighting conceal a precarious tightrope, and missteps may have profound implications for career trajectories.

Vilikazi vs CCMA and others

This article seeks to explore the challenges associated with moonlighting, focusing particularly on the recent labour court case of Vilakazi v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and Others (JR164/20) [2023] ZALCJHB 319.

Initially, Ms Vilikazi (“the employee”) was employed as a part time lecturer, commencing employment on 1 August 2017, in terms of what was called a 50% contract. She was also employed at Alexander Forbes during her tenure as part time lecturer at Witwatersrand University (“Wits”). In terms of this 50% contract, she was only required to work for Wits for 20 hours per week. However, in May 2018, she resigned from Alexander Forbes, opting to take up full time employment with Wits as a lecturer at the Wits Business School. Subsequently, the employee also commenced full-time employment with Kantar South Africa (Pty) Ltd (“Kantar”). The employee’s working hours at Wits were in accordance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and her working hours at Kantar were office hours, Monday to Friday, at least 37,5 hours per week.

Wit’s Declaration of Interests policy (“the policy”) specifically defines “conflict of interest”, “financial interest” and “moonlighting”. The policy also outlines that employees are required to declare their interests by completing and submitting a form to the relevant human resources manager on 28 February every year. The form would in turn be submitted to the Vice Chancellor’s office for consideration.

 Employee did not disclose

The Vice Chancellor would then have the discretion to allow or not allow any conflict of interest disclosed. The policy also provides that involvement in any external institutional affairs, including moonlighting, must be approved by the Vice-Chancellor’s office.

The employee did not disclose to the office of the Vice-Chancellor at Wits her intention to take up full-time employment with Kantar. A month after taking her second job with Kantar, her extra-curricular activities were discovered by Wits, someone anonymously brought to the attention of the employee’s head of department a copy of her employment contract with Kantar. This resulted in a disciplinary hearing where she faced a charge of gross misconduct. She was found guilty of the charge and dismissed by Wits.

 Labour Court

The employee thereafter challenged her dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The CCMA found against the employee and held that her dismissal was substantively fair. The employee then launched a review application at the labour court.

The employee contended, based on her subjective assessment, that she could effectively juggle both roles without causing any detriment to Wits. She was of the view that Wits was not prejudiced in any way, and she saw no conflict of interest.

“Superhuman abilities”

The labour court held that objectively a conflict of interest or at least a very real risk of a conflict of interest to the prejudice or potential prejudice of Wits existed. The court, in assessing the employee’s obligations to both employers, reasoned that accomplishing the responsibilities and discharging the responsibilities under both contracts would require “superhuman abilities,” a feat deemed beyond human capability.

In addition, the court highlighted that the employee’s higher remuneration at Kantar compared to Wits raised concerns about her loyalty, especially in scenarios where both employers might require specific work to be performed at the same time.

Obliged to seek approval for secondary employment

The court expressed the opinion that, even without the policy in place, the employee, bound by fiduciary duties to Wits under her employment contract, was obligated to disclose her intentions and seek approval from the Vice-Chancellor’s office before embarking on employment with Kantar.

Consequently, the labour court determined that the employee’s actions constituted moonlighting. Emphasising the principle that moonlighting is inherently unacceptable, the court declared it a breach of the employee’s fiduciary duties toward the employer. The court underscored that the decision to permit moonlighting should exclusively rest with the employer, and the terms of such allowance are at the employer’s discretion.

The court cautioned against any assumptions by the employee and stressed the necessity of full disclosure beforehand, enabling the employer to make an informed decision. Ex post facto disclosure, according to the court, confronts the employer with a fait accompli and cannot rectify the breach of the duty of good faith that has already occurred.


In the dance between moonlighting and employment contracts, the labour court’s judgment is crystal clear: attempting to moonwalk through dual roles requires more than fancy footwork — it demands transparency and adherence to employment policies.

The case serves as a reminder that engaging in secondary employment without proper disclosure can lead to serious consequences. The principle upheld is straightforward: Employers deserve to be informed and involved in decisions that may impact their organisations. Full disclosure, as emphasised by the court, is a fundamental element in maintaining the employer-employee relationship and ensuring ethical conduct within the realm of employment contracts.

When one considers further that South Africa is a signatory to the International Labour Organisation (the “ILO”) as part of the United Nations, which in turn recommends and advocates for the 8,8,8 principle (8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of sleep), moonlighting will always be frowned upon. South Africa is supposed to be working towards a 40-hour week in any event.