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Outside Employment Policies

This page provides a basic overview of outside employment or "moonlighting" policies for local governments in Washington State, including policy examples.


It appears to be legally permissible for a public employer in the state of Washington to impose reasonable limitations on off-duty employment by public employees. There is at least one case in Washington that has upheld a restriction on outside employment by a public employer, Mackey v. Graham (1983). In Mackey the court upheld a reasonable restriction on off-duty employment by certain employees of the State Auditor. While this case does not uphold the right of a public employer to restrict all outside employment for all public employees, it does appear to approve reasonable restrictions on outside employment.

Most jurisdictions appear to have provisions on outside employment or moonlighting; many have requirements to notify a superior. Many policies are worded similarly to the example below:

Employees shall not directly or indirectly engage in any outside employment of financial interest which may conflict with the best interests of the city/county or interfere with the employee's ability to perform his/her assigned job. Examples include, but are not limited to, outside employment which:

  • Prevents the employee from being available for work beyond normal working hours, such as emergencies or peak work periods, when such availability is a regular part of the employee's job.
  • Is conducted during the employee's work hours.
  • Utilizes city/county telephones, computers, supplies or any other resources, facilities or equipment.
  • Is employment with a firm which has contracts with or does business with the city/county.
  • May reasonably be perceived by members of the public as a conflict of interest or otherwise discredit public service.

Employees who choose to have an additional job, contractual commitment or self-employment, may do so provided they obtain prior written approval from their employing official (mayor, city manager, administrator, department head, etc.).

Examples of Local Policies


Law Enforcement

Recommended Resources

Last Modified: November 05, 2021