Millennials and FMLA

It’s called a “Side Hustle”. If you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen X’er then you probably know it as “Moonlighting”. Sometimes part-time jobs fall into this category, but more often a side hustle is an individual, entrepreneurial endeavor that someone takes on to earn a little cash in addition to their full-time gig.

How many people have side hustles?

According to a recent article by CNN (here’s the article) more than 44 million American’s have a side hustle. That’s a lot. And 86% of them are earning money each month and 36% percent say they earn more than $500 per month.

So why are side hustles a problem?

They’re Difficult to Identify

I remember an FMLA case I was working a few years ago where an employee was on leave following knee surgery. Another employee came forward to report that every Tuesday night this other employee bartended at the pub up the street. Part-time jobs like that are easy to identify and confirm. Entrepreneurial side hustles aren’t always that easy. If the employee’s side hustle is flipping houses, running a blog, sells trinkets at the local farmers market, or the occasional catering gig, that’s not as easy to confirm or prove. 

Your Employee’s Aren’t Disclosing Them

Many companies require employees to disclose any other jobs they have in order to prevent any conflict of interest. But if your employee’s side hustle is a cash business or not through a traditional W-2 employer/employee arrangement, they may not be disclosing it to you.

They’re Easy (and tempting) for the Employee to Continue

In another article from CNN (here’s the article), over half of Americans are spending their entire paycheck. That means they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. If your short term disability plan pays less than 100%, and the employee makes a little side money, why wouldn’t they keep that going while they’re on leave?

When is a side hustle okay?

This is the important part. If you remember nothing else from this article, please remember this . . . side hustles and second jobs, even recreational activities outside of work, are okay as long as they are within the employee’s restrictions while on leave.

Here are some examples:

  • The employee had knee surgery and their side hustle is a blog about golden retrievers. Probably okay.
  • The employee had knee surgery and their side hustle is delivering furniture. Probably not
  • The employee is on leave for severe anxiety and they run a dog-walking business. Probably okay.
  • The employee is intermittent leave for migraines and they drive for a ride-share program on their FMLA days. Probably not

How to mitigate side hustles

Two things:

  • Include a statement in your FMLA policy and in your initial notice of writes that states that if they employee is engaging in activities, including other employment, that are contradictory to their reason for a leave of absence, they may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

It’s incredibly important that you tell them that you do not allow certain activities and what the consequence will be.

  • Do your research before you act. Approach each case with throughout and diligent fact-finding and consider consulting your legal counsel before taking action against the employee.

 We hope you enjoyed reading our article on Millennials and FMLA!

Leave Solutions is based in Milwaukee, WI and helps employers with their FMLA and leave of absence processes from a Human Resources perspective.

Contact us today at if you have questions on millennials and FMLA or other topics.

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