The increasing costs of living within the UK are driving many employees to seek additional employment opportunities and side hustles to help them sustain the standards of living in their personal life and enable them to keep up with the rising cost of their bills. It’s no shock, therefore, that employers have seen a rise in the number of employees, even those with full-time jobs, seeking secondary employment and becoming overemployed.

There are also other reasons why employees take on secondary jobs, such as to learn new skills, to monetise a hobby or maybe they are saving for a particular special occasion or purchase.

Whatever the reason, employers need to make sure they follow the appropriate steps to mitigate any potential conflict of interest and ensure compliance with the Working Time Regulations 1998. The below explains the employee rights in relation to additional employment and the relevant legal obligations on both the employee and employer.

Is your employee obliged to notify you of additional employment?

This depends on what is stated within your contract of employment, as there is no statutory obligation for employees to inform their employer of a second job.

It is good practice to require employees to inform you of secondary employment contractually, so that you can manage any competing interests, UK employment law obligations such as the Working Time Regulations or to protect your employee’s health and wellbeing as they try to navigate their commitments to work and life.

If you have remote working employees, they could have secondary employment which you are unaware of, particularly if they have not informed you and there is no requirement for them to inform you. Unfortunately, if you are unaware of such employment, you will be unable to manage the potential risks to your business or your employee.

What if your employment contract requires approval for second jobs?

You may well be asking yourself this question at the moment. With costs increasing, your employees may be looking at alternative solutions to earning that additional income, so even with a clause relating to this very subject in the contract of employment, is there actually anything you can do to prevent them?

The Legality of Restricting Employee’s Second Jobs

It is not illegal in the UK to work two jobs at the same time. However, there may be provisions within your contracts of employment that could prevent employees from taking on additional work. In most cases, these clauses will only be in place to prevent employees from working with direct competitors, clients, suppliers, or other companies where a conflict of interest occurs.

You may have a clause in your employment contract that states anyone who wishes to take on additional work needs the approval of a director before agreeing to any additional work. If this is the case, what is the process for this? Having a clause is one thing, ensuring the employee understands how they adhere to the requirement is another.

First, look at your contracts of employment and find out what clauses are in place in relation to second jobs. Then you will be able to have constructive dialogue with employees who are considering working a second job.

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Assessing and Addressing Potential Risk Factors

You need to ensure that if someone chooses to have a second job, they are aware of any confidentiality clauses within their terms to enable you to protect your business and of any confidential information they may be privy to which is not already in the public domain, which, if leaked to a competitor, could damage your business. Speak to your employee and remind them of the importance of keeping information confidential.

The Working Time Regulations will also come into force if they work over 48 hours per week and if they are not getting the statutory rest breaks. It is considered the obligation of both their main employer and secondary employer to ensure that someone isn’t working more than 48 hours per week on average, unless they have signed an opt-out agreement to say they are happy to work more than that. On that basis, there is also a very real possibility that someone working additional hours could be tired at work and therefore not perform to their best. This could also impact their overall productivity and engagement.

You also need to consider any potential health and safety implications within the workplace should someone become tired and overworked, particularly if they could pose a risk to themselves or others, for example where they are using heavy machinery or driving.

Second job taxation would also be a consideration for the individual having two jobs. Tax codes will be adjusted by HMRC as the individual must pay the appropriate amount of tax on their total income.

Managing Multiple Commitments: Open Dialogue & Practical Planning

If an employee’s secondary employment is brought to your attention, you should check their contract for any restrictions. It’s important to understand the reasons for the secondary employment, to gain a better understanding and establish whether there is anything which can be done internally to mitigate their need for additional employment.

You will need to keep in mind whether there is a risk of the company coming into disrepute because of the role, confidentiality requirements, external competition, impact on productivity, employee welfare or any potential legal implications.

If there are no restrictions within your contract to prevent an employee from taking secondary employment, you will need to come up with an alternative risk prevention plan to establish what the risks are, and how you can mitigate them.

Develop Clear Policies & Guidelines

It’s important to have clear processes and policies, be reasonable and fair and not prevent your employee taking on additional employment if there is little or no risk to your business. These policies should allow flexibility whilst also promoting good employee wellbeing and a work-life balance.

The policy should give managers guidance on what to do when an employee’s secondary employment is brought to their attention, who needs to be approached for approval and how risk assessments can be put in place to protect your business and the employee’s health and wellbeing.

Empowering Employees to Thrive without Supplemental Income

Money stress and worries are ranked as the biggest worry among employees today, increasing the number of overemployed workers in the UK workforce. These are a few suggestions you could consider doing within your workplace to help support your employees:

  • Pay a fair wage reflecting the cost of living
  • Implement a financial well-being policy and provide financial education to your employees; consider what employee benefits you offer and any discount schemes you could introduce. Many Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) will provide this support to your employees and to immediate family members.
  • Introduce salary sacrifice schemes
  • Offer a one-off bonus or a voucher to support employees without impacting your ongoing cost base
  • Support progression and development
  • Increase mental health support; consider having mental health first aiders
  • Embrace flexible working arrangements via a flexible working policy, including working from home opportunities. This could reduce commuting costs for employees and enable them to manage their time effectively around other work commitments, without causing burnout.
  • Consider growth opportunities for your employees if appropriate and put in place development plans to support them, in the longer term increasing their job satisfaction and long-term financial stability.

Many employees are concerned about their finances, and so are a lot of businesses. The current climate is placing stress and pressure on everyone. It is important to ensure you find the right balance.

If you wish to talk to a member of our team to find out how you could support your employees, or if you have any concerns regarding employees having second jobs, please feel free to contact us.