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The Legal Requirements of a Second Job

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 23 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Second Job Legal Requirements Employment

Starting a second job can be one of the best ways to bring in some extra income. But there are some legal requirements to taking a second job including informing present employers.

The Law and Second Jobs

Under certain circumstances it may not simply be a case of finding and starting a second job. There are a number of legal requirements especially for those already in part-time or full-time employment. Contractual requirements set out by present employers can actually determine whether or not their employees can take second jobs. There are also working time limits set out by the government that should be taken into account. Working a second job without fulfilling the legal requirements could mean that employees are actually working illegally.

Employment Contracts and Second Jobs

Many people consider the hours outside of their regular employment to be theirs to do with as they please. But some employers do not take the same view, especially with employees who are working for other employers. Anyone considering taking a second job should check the terms and conditions set out within their present employment contract. Employment contracts may contain clauses that forbid working for other employers especially if there are conflicts of interest. Many employers are also against employees taking seconds jobs if it means their work performance will deteriorate.

Creative Rights in Employment Contracts

Employees who use creative skills such as writing or creating graphics should check their employment contract’s terms and conditions. Employers sometimes have clauses that state that they will own the rights to all work created while working for them. This will mean that creative work carried out for a second employer may belong to the full-time present employer. Employers should be notified of the intention to work a second job, and to gain permission to work for another employer.

Second Jobs and Working Time Limits

The government has set regulations regarding how many hours an employee should work each week. The maximum average is 48 hours per week but employees can choose to opt out of this. There are certain employment cases where this rule does not apply such as the emergency services or the armed forces. The 48 hours per week limit is averaged out over a 17 week period. This means employees can work more that 48 hours per week but only if the average is less than 48 hours over the complete 17 week period.

Using an Employment Opt-Out Agreement

Employees can opt out of the 48 hours work limit regulations. The opt-out agreement must be made in writing and must not be forced on the employee. Opt-out agreements can sometimes be used as part of the employment contract but employees are free to cancel this at any time. Opt-out contracts should be signed by employees who are taking second jobs and should be signed by the employee and the employer. Anyone under the age of 18 can only work 40 hours per week and are not permitted to use an opt-out agreement.

What Does Not Count Towards the 48 Hours Limit

There are certain factors that cannot be included in the 48 hour work limit. Remember, the opt-out will only be needed if the working hours from both jobs totals more than 48 hours. Other circumstances that do not count towards the 48 hours limit will include:

  • Travel time to and from places of employment
  • Lunch breaks cannot be counted within the 48 hour limit
  • Holiday leave including paid and unpaid leave
  • Overtime that is unpaid including staying late at work

Tax Requirements and a Second Job

The tax man will want a cut of any earnings through a second job as well as National Insurance payments. Employees starting a second job will be required to complete a P46 supplied by the HM Revenue and Customs. Second jobs can often cause initial confusion because the employee will now have two tax codes. Mistakes have been known to happen with the employee paying more tax than they should. Any employee who thinks they are paying too much tax should either contact their payroll department or the HMRC directly.

There are many employees in the UK who are working a second job without the knowledge of their full-time employer. In a number of cases this can go unnoticed for years. But employers may not be happy if they do find out employees have been working a second job without informing them. Employees should stay safe and abide by the legal requirements to avoid the risk of losing a permanent job.

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