Expert Connor Campbell explains highlights key areas to consider as over 5 million people are considering a second job

by | Oct 1, 2022

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With recent figures suggesting that over 5 million people in the UK have had to take up a second job in order to cope with the rising cost of living, and another 10 million considering it, Connor Campbell, finance and business expert at NerdWallet, has explained what employees need to know before they think about taking on a second job.

Check your current employment contract

Before you start looking for another job to go alongside your current one, it’s important that you thoroughly read through your employment contract for any additional employment restrictions. These can vary from company to company, so it’s important to carefully understand what each clause means. Some clauses state that you cannot work for another employer while working for them, while others will simply state that you cannot work for a competitor due to a conflict of interest. Other common clauses restrict you from working for a company or in a job that could bring your current employer into disrepute.

If there are no restrictions, you should be free to undertake a second job. However, it’s good practice to let your current employer know your plans. If there are restrictions in your contract, it can also be a good idea to discuss your options with your employer as they may be able to clarify what they mean and can even give you special permission to take on a second job.

Weigh up if it will be financially viable

Each person will have different circumstances when it comes to pay, so it’s important you work out whether taking on a second job will be financially viable, before applying. This is because you will be taxed differently when working two jobs.

The tax system sees one job as your main income and a second income on top of this. This means that your main income will be eligible for the £12,570 tax-free personal allowance, however, your second income will not qualify for any tax-free allowance, even if your main income is less than £12,570. Your second job’s tax will be set at the basic rate of 20%, as long as the total earned income is less than £50,271. Anything earned over this amount will be eligible for the 40% rate of tax.

Therefore, it’s important to work out how much money a second job will give you, to see whether it’s worth taking it on, after factoring in things such as travel and childcare and costs.

This tax calculator is a great start for working out how much you’ll be taking home from working two jobs.

Consider the working time regulations

Second jobs can be tricky when it comes to the law, and specifically, Working Time Regulations.

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) were introduced to protect the health of both the individual and other employees. For instance, if an employee is overworked, it can lead to health issues and avoidable accidents.

Under Regulation 4 of the Working Time Regulations, employers are responsible for ensuring employees do not work more than 48 hours per week, on average, over a 17-week period, and have a certain amount of rest time per week. The Regulations state that employees should have a 20-minute break for every 6 hours worked, an 11-hour rest period within 24 hours, and at least 24 hours of rest within a week.

If an employer believes you are working above these, they are allowed, by law, to ask you about it. You can opt-out of this regulation, as an employee, but it’s down to your employer/s to consider if this is safe and if any steps need to be taken to reduce the risk.

Think about your performance 

Following on from the Working Time Regulations, it’s important to thoroughly think about the impact working two jobs will have on your performance – at both jobs. It’s imperative you are confident you can perform to the best of your ability in both roles, first and foremost. If you believe you won’t be able to work to the standard expected at either job, consider whether it’s worth the risk, as you could end up in trouble with both roles by not meeting what is expected in your job descriptions.

Connor says, “Taking on a second job can be a great way of earning extra money while building new skills, which may help in the future. However, there are certain things to take into consideration, before undertaking another job.

“It’s important that workers fully understand and weigh up the pros and cons of taking on a second job, and what impact this can have on them personally and financially.”

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