Boost your finances with a second job

If it's hard to make ends meet on your current salary and you are willing to give up some of your spare time, you could top up your income by taking on a second job.

The number of employees with a second job is now at a 10-year high. More than 1.1 million UK workers had two jobs in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics.

As well as providing you with some extra cash, a second job can be a great way to learn new skills, meet new people or build up work experience. Here, we answer all your ‘moonlighting' questions.

Can anyone have a second job?

Legally, employees can have more than one job but some companies prevent their staff from doing anything that is deemed a conflict of interest. For example, an employed hairdresser might be breaking the terms of their contract if they work as a mobile hairdresser in their free time.

Employers can also stop staff from taking on additional work that could bring the company into disrepute.

Before looking for an additional job, read your existing employment contract. This will also tell you if you need to inform your existing boss of any additional work you take on.

How long am I allowed to work for?

No matter whether you have one job or five, the EU Working Time Directive stipulates that employees over the age of 18 cannot be forced to work longer than 48 hours a week, unless you opt out.

However, if you are going to be working long hours regularly, be realistic about how it will affect your performance in each role. You don't want to face disciplinary action for being too tired.

Will a second job affect the amount of tax I pay?

Yes, and potentially the amount of national insurance (NI) contributions and any student loan repayments you might make.

If you don't have a P45 because you are taking a second job, your new employer may ask you to complete a P46 to find out if the role will be your first job, whether you have any other sources of employment, if you have been claiming any benefits or have a student loan.

Some employers may not require a P46 but will ask you for the information so they can allocate your correct tax code.

Remember, though, while you may have more than one job, you still have only one personal tax allowance, which for the current tax year is £8,105.

Am I allowed to take a second job while on maternity leave?

No. If you are receiving maternity pay or statutory maternity pay from your employer you are not allowed to take another job. The same applies to men on paternity leave.

Could a second job affect my pension?

If you take on another job, you may have the opportunity to pay into another workplace pension or top up your state pension by making more NI contributions (although this will cease to be the case when the flat-rate state pension is introduced in 2017).

The Money Advice Service suggests that if you pay a small amount into a pension in your second job, it might be worth amalgamating it with a bigger pension when you leave.

What if my second job is actually my own business?

If you are employed in one job but run your own business on the side, you will be part employed, part self-employed.

You must register as self-employed with HM Revenue & Customs and you will have to fill in a self-assessment tax return each year to declare your earnings and pay any income tax you owe. You may also need to top up your NI contributions.

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