So your employee has a side hustle. Here's what to do...

Kate Palmer - HR Advice and Consultancy Director

September 03 2018

Side hustle /sʌɪd ˈhʌs(ə)l/ (US) Compound noun: work performed outside of primary employment to earn extra income. The side hustle has arrived. Well, the term itself first appeared back in the fifties, across the pond in African American newspapers. Six decades later, it’s become a fixture in the UK and Ireland’s present public consciousness. And for good reason. According to Henley Business School, four in ten employees today have a side hustle to boost their finances. It makes sense. Wages are stagnating and the job market is unstable, yet the cost of living is soaring ever higher. In fact, this is the first generation in modern history that can’t expect its future quality of life to improve. That’s why the oft-maligned (unfairly so) millennial generation are embracing the side hustle. Now, a side hustle doesn’t necessarily mean a part-time job. Nor is it working in the gig economy. It can simply be a way to make ends meet or to pursue a passion project. But here’s why that matters to you as an employer. Tracking work hours You may want to restrict or even prevent employees from taking on outside work, but most employers tend to allow it as long as staff meet their company’s written requirements. So, if you don’t have one already, create a policy that explains your stance on staff working secondary jobs—self-employed or otherwise. Your policy should state that your staff must tell you about their extra work—whether they’re about to start or they’re already doing it. Remember that you can’t prevent zero hours staff from getting other work, though. Include a section on your employees’ rights under the current Working Time Regulations stating that they shouldn’t work in an employed capacity for more than an average of 48 hours per week. But tracking those extra hours isn’t easy. It’s a good idea to speak with your employee and, if necessary, see if they need to sign an opt-out agreement to remove the maximum weekly limit on their working hours. If your employee signs the agreement, remember that he or she must still take both the legal daily and weekly rest periods. Avoid conflicts of interest Make sure your policy prevents your employees from working for you while also running a business in direct competition with you. Your contracts of employment should clearly state that your employees must devote their entire time and attention to your business during working hours. If you find they’re doing outside work on your time—or even using your company’s equipment for it—then you can start disciplinary action. See the value of work You may not be happy about the popularity of the side hustle, but you have to remember why they exist. Life is getting harder for all but a few in this country. So if people have the drive to try to make their world a bit better, it’s worth respect. But you can’t allow your business to suffer because of it, so you need to create a policy to protect yourself. After all, you’re trying to make your world better, too.

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