The Double Dipper-It’s a Question of Ethics

by Matt B

double dipI consider myself a pretty ethically and morally sound person. I feel the same about the people I associate myself with, but when it comes to “gray areas” of morality, I find myself over thinking and over analyzing things people do and say. After a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a complete stranger, I left feeling confused and intrigued at the same time.

The conversation started simply, with some small talk. After a few minutes, I mentioned Financial Methods and chalked it up to being my “pet project” since I do have a yearning to teach others about financial intelligence and responsibility while I myself learn as well. I can not (yet) consider it a viable and long-lasting source of income, mostly because it is relatively new and it has not actually made me any money as of yet.

After mentioning the site, my aims, and what I write about, he told me that he too, pays close attention to his money. He also shared some of his money making “secrets”. Most of his so-called secrets were none of the sort. He talked of frugality, small side projects, and investments with low to moderate risk. None of this surprised me or even caught my attention, until he told me about a little scheme he liked to pull every once in a while when the money was short…I will from here on out call it: double dipping.

Double Dipping:

It really is quite interesting. I do not even remember the man’s name, but I will not soon forget his money-making scheme.

The man explained that he had a normal 9-5, “suit and tie” job. He made good money, liked his job, and enjoyed a great benefits package. Among the many benefits was a generous allowance of sick time. Since he was rarely sick, he took advantage of many of his allowed “sick days” in a pretty unique way.

Many cities and towns have organizations or businesses that organize temporary employment on a day to day basis. If you are thinking of Manpower or other “temp” agencies, that’s not it…These companies pay by the day, and little is required to get a job aside from proof of citizenship and a form of identification. You show up at the office early in the morning, wait for a bus/van to take you to the job site(s) for the day, and are returned when the job is done. The majority of the time, these jobs pay daily. These jobs are usually first-come first-served for employees, so the earlier you show up, the more likely you are to be able to work for the day.

The man proceeded to explain how he uses these agencies to make some extra cash. Since his “normal” job afforded him so many sick days, he decided that it was stupid to let them go to waste. One day, he called in sick and took a 20 minute drive to the next town over (so nobody from work would see him) and waited with some of the regulars to venture out and see what work was available that day. A six hour workday yielded $50, and he was hooked.

I asked, “How many times have you done this?”. He said, “Last year I only did it twice. So far this year, I’ve done it 8 times.”

I was floored. Eight times! That’s an extra $400 in his pocket. And it’s not as if he really missed any of his salary. Remember, these are all sick days. And now you see why I call him the “double dipper”.

It really is an impressive little scam…if you can even call it that. Which begs the question, is this ethical? I could easily argue both sides on this.

Argument For “Double Dipping”:

This gentleman is allowed a certain number of sick days each year, just like everyone else. The way he spends them is not his company’s concern. Besides, I’m sure that when people call in sick, much of the time they are not actually sick. (Everyone else does it, why can’t I.)

Argument Against “Double Dipping”:

This gentleman is being disloyal to his company. Even if he does not end up working for a competitor in a temporary capacity, he is still able to work and should be at his place of employment and doing what he is getting paid to do.

What is your stance here? I will say loud and clear that while I think it is a unique (and kinda funny) way to “stick it to” your own employer, I do not think I could do this. It is one thing to take a sick day for a little piece of mind or just to clear your head, but I am of the opinion that if you can work, you should. It creates a conflict of interest if you take a day off to provide services to another company. What do you think? Would you (could you) do this with a clear conscience?

Photo: peyrl

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Zengirl October 8, 2009 at 1:37 am

Interesting, what one person would find it ethical and other would not. I think I will leave it at that. While I stay home with my kids and no job can not comment, but it would be not for me, isn’t he getting paid for his sick days anyways?

The sister October 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm

The day after I read this post I found out a guy who works at my company per diem does so on the days he’s off from his full time job. My boss’ words: ‘that’s smart’. He has a ridiculous amt of time off accumulated there abd I think he plans ahead to work it out. As long as you’re doing your full time job well and you’re not calling in sick to do it I think it’s a really good idea. Where I work we have paid time off, which can be used for sick time or reg time off so I don’t think its unethical to use that time wisely so long as you’re not planning the demise of your company or starting a competitive company on your time off.
The way I see it, the company I work for now isn’t gong to pay my bills if something happens to me and I’m unable to work anymore. It’s my responsibility to take care of my finances and multiple sources of income and smart use of your time is the way to do it.

Matt B October 10, 2009 at 2:01 pm

@Zengirl…Yes, that is where the morality question arises. He is getting paid for his regular job, but apparently his company does not have wording that prohibits him from working elsewhere at the same time. He believes that since his sick time and other time off is owed to him, he can do whatever he pleases during that time, regardless of whether he is getting paid by them at the time.

Wireworks October 11, 2009 at 11:07 pm

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