Legal implications of working two jobs UK

Alan Price – Chief Operations Officer

October 30 2015

In recent times, the rise in living costs and expenses have forced more people to pick up extra jobs.

Employers have an implied duty for any staff-member who has a second job. If legal implications are neglected, you could face losing staff, tribunal attendance, and even compensation penalties.

In this guide, we'll look at what a second job is, legal implications for having two jobs, and how to manage employees working for another business.

What is a second job?

A second job is when an employee takes additional work, separate from their primary role. It's also known as 'double jobbing'. Employees are under no obligation to tell their employer about their other employment – unless their contracts state otherwise.

When an employee has more than one job, they've officially agreed to work for two businesses. This means two employment contracts have been agreed to; whether through verbal, implied, or written means.

Many employees pick up more than one job due to financial necessity. Other times, they might start a part-time job to learn new skills or gain work experience.

The location or hours worked might be separate between the two, but the impacts can affect both equivocally.

An employee cutting hair possibly as a second job

What are the legal implications of working two jobs?

In the UK, it's not illegal for an employee to have two jobs at the same time; nor do they have to disclose their other job either.

Unless their employment contracts state otherwise, they're allowed to work for as many employers as they choose.

UK employment laws outline regulations relating to those who have two jobs. These include:

  1. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) which covers employee well-being and workplace welfare.
  2. The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) which covers safe work hours and rest periods.

An employer must ensure a second job doesn't impact an employee's legal rights or welfare. If it does, you can prevent them from taking the job by exercising a contractual provision prohibiting them.

You can include a clause in contracts where the employee would need consent to take a second job if there is a conflict of interest/ For example, if you both haven’t reached mutual agreement regarding the second job.

A person working as a barista, a common second job

What are the advantages of having a second job?

Additional income

Many employees pick a part-time job to increase their income. This might be for living costs, paying off debts, or saving for personal targets (like buying a house).

Grow savings

Working additional hours means people are less likely to overspend. This includes things like eating out or going shopping. By spending less, it allows them to save extra money for long-term goals.

Full rotas

More businesses prefer to hire employees on a part-time or flexible working conditions. Employees agree to hours they're available for, which means the employer can offer more hours through set rotas.

Multiple streams of income

It's arguable that an employee with one job heavily relies on this for their livelihood. Those with multiple streams of income are more financially stable, as any monetary issues can be resolved efficiently.

Career development

Depending on the part-time job, employees can develop their careers through additional work experience. By growing their job skills, they could be rewarded with promotions, or even become an employer for their own business.

someone learning coding for a second job role

What are the disadvantages of having a second job?

Unstable hours and wages

Second jobs are usually popular in the customer service sector. Here, employee wages and work hours are often low. Employees then feel they have to 'charm' their employer to earn set hours or extra tips during shifts.

Insufficient work-life balance

A good 'work-life balance' is usually non-existent when employees have two jobs. The hours spent not working are usually used to rest and recover - people are literally living to work.

Bad physical and mental health

When working hours go beyond norms, it's possible for people to suffer physical and mental health impacts. Overworking, bad diets, and insufficient rest periods are commonly found. Medical health conditions are ignored, as the idea of 'not working' isn't an option for them.

Conflict of interest

In some cases, working two jobs may present conflicts of interest. This is especially evident when working in the same sector. Employees must refer to their employment contract to determine whether this is allowed. If they're still unsure, they should contact their HR department for information on the right to take a second job.

Additional expenses

Having a second job can lead to additional living expenses. These come from transport, food, and laundry costs. Not to mention collated job tax and national insurance contributions required between the jobs.

Someone working late as part of a second job.jpg

How to manage employees with a second job

An employer's duty of care still applies when staff state they’re working two jobs. This also includes protecting their health and well-being.

By doing so, you can be sure that employees are working in the safest conditions. But, if you ignore this, it could lead to personal injury claims - affecting the employee and employer's business welfare overall.

Here are ways to manage employees with a second job:

Manage the health and safety risk of overworking

Any employee working longer than the recommended legal hours puts themselves at an obvious risk. They could suffer from physical fatigue and tiredness, which results from not resting properly between each job. They could also suffer from psychological illnesses, like stress and depression, which derives from neglecting work-life balance.

Their GP may class them as 'unfit to work', as their health state could put colleagues and non-employees (like the public) at the risk of injury due to negligence or incapability issues.

Whilst the employee may have caused a workplace accident, legally speaking, the employer holds overall responsibility. This means, you could face losing employees, paying compensation, and dealing with reputational damages.

Keep a track of their work hours

Collectively, employees with two jobs will most likely exceed the legal weekly working time limit. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), employees are not permitted to work beyond 48 hours a week unless agreed to.

The maximum weekly working hours are as follows:

  • Workers are limited to an average of 48 hours in one week. (This is over a 17-week period).
  • Workers are limited to an average of eight hours work per day (for those over 18 years old)
  • Night-workers are limited to an average of eight hours per 24 hours (for safety reasons).

Working beyond the legal amount is a choice every adult employee is entitled to take. If an employer allows their staff to work longer (like through additional shifts or overtime), they must attain mutual, written agreement. When you work out their average hours, it should include both their primary job, as well as their secondary one.

The employer can ask the employee to sign an 'opt-out agreement', if you agree to them working beyond 48 hours a week.

Ensure the required rest breaks are taken

When an employee has a second job, there's a higher probability they're neglecting rest breaks. Every employer must ensure staff take their required rest breaks. These include lunch breaks, as well as daily rest periods between working days.

Under UK employment law, employees are legally entitled to:

  • 11 hours of rest per working day.
  • One day off per 24 hours and week.
  • 20-minute rest break after six hours (either as lunch or rest breaks).

If you (or the second employer) believe the employee is overworked or exhausted, don't allow them to work. Human error could lead to accidents occurring in the work environment. An employer could then face increased staff turnover, absenteeism, and mental health impacts because of long hours.

employee having a coffee on their lunch break

Highlight contractual provision for secondary employment

It's important to outline what your terms and conditions are for taking a second job. This can be done through a non-compete clause. This contractual provision disallows certain actions in relation to secondary employment.

For example, an employee decides to take a second job at a rival company or competitor. Your contractual terms could include notifying the first employer about the second job and its work hours. It could also include steps to manage any conflict of interest between the main job and their second job (like preventing sharing data or using relevant software).

Ensure proper tax deductions are made

Under the UK law, there is no such thing as 'second job tax'. When an employee starts a job, they're entitled to keep a certain amount without paying Income Tax. This amount is called 'Personal Allowance' which is £12,570 (as of 2022).

Every employee is entitled Personal Allowance for their main job (this is usually because the income is higher, so is subject to more tax deductions). Here's how much tax an employee needs to pay if they have two jobs:

An employee earns £14,000 in their first job and £6,000 in their second job. Personal Allowance is applied to their first job. Tax is worked out as followed:

  1. Income tax deductions (at a basic rate of 20%) on £1,430 from the total income of their main job.
  2. Income tax deductions (at the basic rate of 20%) on their total income from both jobs.

If both jobs are under the Personal Allowance amount, employees can contact the HMRC to transfer tax to their lower-paid job. Or they could ask them for a refund if they've paid too much tax (according to individual second job tax code rules).

Apply the right tax-codes for second jobs

It's important to apply the right 'tax code' for second jobs. How much tax they'll pay depends on a number of factors.

Every employee needs to ensure staff pay the right amount, as per their second job tax code. This minimises the chance of facing unexpected bills, penalty charges, and interest fees during the current tax year.

The tax code for an employee's first job (if it's higher than Personal Allowance) is 1257L (for the 22/23 tax year). A second job tax code should include BR, D0, or D1.

Second job tax codes are dependent on whether they're taxed at a basic rate or a personalised one. If an employee earns over £190 a week (in the 22/23 tax year), they must pay tax and National Insurance contributions. If they earn more in their first job and second job, they'll need to pay tax and National Insurance contributions for both places.

Get expert advice on second jobs with Peninsula

As an employer, you need to ensure anyone with a second job works in the safest and healthiest conditions. By protecting their health and welfare, you're guaranteed to benefit from loyalty, productivity, and output.

If an employer neglects second job rights and entitlements, they could face compensation penalties and reputational damages.

Peninsula offers expert advice on second jobs. Our team offers a 24/7 HR advice service which is available 365 days a year; with multi-lingual assistance and fully trained counsellors ready to help.

Want more advice? Book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants. Call 0800 028 2420.

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