A fifth take on second jobs to pay the bills

6 February 2014

More than 8.5 million British adults have been forced to take on a second job to make ends meet, a debt charity has revealed.

The need to earn more money to get by means that 8% of the people surveyed by the Debt Advisory Centre had been forced to return to work instead of staying caring for their children at home.

As well as working all the hours they possibly can, families are also making sacrifices to make their money go further. For example, nearly two-fifths decided to go without a holiday.

Others reported selling possessions (31%), cancelling insurance policies (11%) and downsizing to smaller and cheaper properties (6%).

If you are thinking about taking on a second job, what type of work could you consider?

Moneywise HR expert Ruth Cornish says the following options are popular:

  • Childcare
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Selling things for other companies such as Tupperware and Avon
  • Offering services like personal training
  • Baking
  • Making things from home to sell through local trade fairs or via bigger websites like notonthehighstreet.com.

But before you start any of these jobs, ask yourself the following questions:

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.

If you've got a work or careers-related dilemma, email our work/life columnist Ruth Cornish at: worklife@moneywise.co.uk.

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