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The boom in second jobs (“side hustles”) and what employers need to know

As the cost of living crisis continues to take hold, energy prices skyrocket and inflation increases, a growing number of UK employees are taking on second jobs or “side hustles” to ease the financial strain.  

The number of employees seeking out alternative streams of income has increased over the past two years since the start of the pandemic with figures from Aviva revealing that one in five Brits have started a second job since March 2020.  

This has been accelerated by the cost-of-living crisis as Barclaycard found, with nearly one in twelve Brits having taken on an extra job to top up their salaries. These side jobs include tutoring, babysitting, selling clothes online, fishing, crocheting, or exam marking. 

There are benefits to both employer and employees from staff taking on a second job, from bringing in new skills to the business or increasing an employee’s wellbeing as often the job could be a hobby or something they particularly enjoy. It may be that the second job gives them a break from their regular day job. However, not all second jobs can be beneficial to both an employee and employer.  

When second jobs could be a concern for employers 

  • Insufficient rest time for employees: Employees may not be taking enough time out to rest if they’re working a second job outside the hours of their main job. Employers may well be concerned about violating the Working Time Regulations 1998, which prohibit employees from working more than 48 hours per week on average, if workers are unable to take adequate breaks. 


  • Employee performance: If an employee is putting in long hours on a second source of income, it’s likely to affect their energy reserves and attention span, which may affect their performance. When looking into performance difficulties, the likelihood of a second job should also be taken into account, but no assumptions should be made. Problems may arise if an employee is not forthcoming about a second job or if they downplay their extracurricular activities. The necessary competency and disciplinary procedures should be used in this case.


  • Use of company equipment, materials and products: check that staff aren’t utilising business resources to support their second job, particularly if they are using the employer’s goods, for example, they may use company materials to produce products to sell.


  • Intellectual property rights: Questions may arise as to whether an employer has any intellectual property rights over anything an employee creates if they use company equipment or work on their second job at the same time as their primary employment.  


  • Employee resignation risk: If an employee’s second job becomes exceptionally lucrative, there’s a risk that the employee could resign to pursue their second job full time, which can be tricky in today’s highly competitive employment market.  

So, what can employers do? 

Legally, there is nothing to prevent employees from engaging in a second job provided it is outside of their regular working hours and does not violate the terms of their contract. Employees are not required to disclose any second jobs unless their employment agreement clearly requires it. 

However, employers should regularly evaluate their employment contracts and policies to ensure that they contain provisions that, if required, prohibit employees from undertaking secondary employment or request that permission be obtained before taking on any competing activity. 

Finally, if your employees are engaging in a second job to make ends meet, employers should consider revising pay to ensure that they are paying market rates and ultimately make a more compelling case for employees to focus all their time and energy into the one role- your job.  

If you are an employer and would like some support on employee contracts or employee relations, contact hr inspire’s expert HR teamHertfordshire’s leading HR consultancy that can bring your business the benefits, protection and experience of an entire HR department. 

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