smei - employees with a second job

Employees with Second Jobs what Employers Need to Know

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 1.2 million people in the UK have a second job.[1] And with inflation at a 40-year high and the cost of living rising every day, driven mainly by the rising costs of food and energy, this increase looks set to continue.[2]

It's usually legal to have two jobs in the UK, but this depends on the company's contract of employment. As an employer, where do you stand in terms of employing staff with two jobs? We take a look at what you need to know.   

Employment Contracts

Your business may include a clause in your employment contract prohibiting extra work, especially if there could be a conflict of interest. So, for example, working for a competitor, a client or a supplier.

Contracts may state that employees seek your permission before taking up a second job outside of the role you employ them to do. If an employee fails to seek consent, it may be necessary to apply a suspension or even initiate disciplinary action leading to a sanction or, in severe cases, dismissal. Any action taken will depend on the circumstances and the contract's details, so it's wise to seek legal advice before taking action.  

What About Tax and National Insurance Contributions?

If an employee has two jobs, and you pay via PAYE, you need to establish if you are their primary or secondary employer. Typically, the primary employer is the job in which an employee spends most time or makes the most money.

The tax code for a second job tax code is usually set as Basic Rate (BR) by default.[3] Employees must ensure their tax code is in the correct bracket so they don't overpay or underpay taxes.

If your employee has more than one job with your company or works for another employer you 'carry out business in association' with, you may have to calculate National Insurance (NI) contributions based on the earnings of both of their jobs. You can find guidance on calculating these contributions on the gov.uk website.[4]

Health and Safety

As an employer, under the Working Time Regulations (WTR), you must take 'reasonable steps' to ensure a worker does not work more than 48 hours a week on average (over 17 weeks).[5] If a worker is happy to work longer, this may be agreed in writing. However, the 48-hour maximum applies to the working time of an individual worker, regardless of how many jobs they have.

If an employee doesn't get the required rest breaks and works beyond the weekly working time limit, you could breach the WTR designed with health, well-being and safety in mind. If you do permit an employee to have two jobs, it's essential to understand how many hours they are working in total.

You also need to consider the effect on your business— including customers and fellow employees—from a risk and performance perspective. Suppose an employee is not performing up to the required standards or not following correct procedures due to tiredness and lack of attention. In that case, you should take steps to investigate.

In Summary

Establish—if an employee has more than one job, ask for details of the work they do for other employers in writing. This will help meet your WTR to ensure they don't work more than 48 hours a week.

Review—your staff employment contracts to check they meet your business and legal requirements regarding employees obtaining secondary employment.

Assess—carry out regular risk assessments for staff members with second jobs. This will allow you to identify and address any concerns relating to the employee's hours of work and their health and safety, and that of others.

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/timeseries/ycbw/lms

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63301383

[3] https://www.gov.uk/tax-codes

[4] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/what-to-do-if-your-employee-has-more-than-1-job

[5] https://www.acas.org.uk/the-maximum-hours-an-employee-can-work

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