Cost-of-living crisis – does it matter if an employee takes a second job?
Posted on 9th January 2023 at 14:30
With the cost-of-living crisis pushing up the prices of everything, more workers will be looking for ways to make ends meet. According to a survey by employee benefits provider Unum 16% are considering taking a second job.
As this amounts to 4.5 million people considering the options, it is likely to impact a number of businesses. Managers will be wondering what their obligations are around employees working two jobs.
Ian spoke to People Management about what employers and employees need to consider.
Terms in the Contract of Employment
In principle there is no restriction on having multiple jobs, but some contracts state that a second job may only be taken with the permission of the first employer. This is intended to make sure that the employee is fresh and rested and properly able to undertake their duties and perform them well. One exception is that employers are not able to restrict workers on zero hours contract or who earn less than £123 per week from working a second job. In this case, even if there is such a clause the employer will not be able to enforce it.
It would be sensible for employees to check their employment contracts before taking a second job. Any restrictive provision in a contract can be varied by agreement between the parties, but if the employer is not happy to vary the agreement there is not much the employee can do.
If the contract does not contain a restriction, employees may take a second job provided it doesn’t impinge on the working time for the first. If either contract requires an employee to work additional time or overtime, employers may be entitled to take disciplinary action against an employee who doesn’t or can’t comply with an instruction to work more hours.
If tiredness and overwork leads to a drop in the employees performance, their employer may also take action regarding capability. While this could ultimately lead to dismissal, employers should first investigate the problem and work with the employee to improve their performance.
The Working Time Regulations
The Working Time Regulations 1998 restrict an employee's working week to a maximum of 48 hours. This is a health and safety measure intended to protect workers, and employers are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the limit is adhered to.
This restriction can be waived by agreement. If it isn’t waived and the employee is working in excess of 48 hours, both employers could potentially be in breach of the WTR and could face prosecution and enforcement action.
Employees would be sensible to discuss second jobs with both their employers. This will help employers to meet their legal obligations and to support the employee in maintaining their wellbeing.
The same survey found that 19% of employees plan to start looking for a new job with a higher salary or better benefits. The obvious solution to retain staff is to increase salaries or improve benefits. Unfortunately, not all employers can afford to do this. Instead, they could consider ways to support employees who plan to take on a second job by removing restrictions. They might also benefit from being flexible about shift patterns and overtime.
Employers who are thinking about making changes to contracts – whether on an individual basis or across the board – should seek legal advice. They may need to update their contracts, or agree to vary terms on an individual basis – if so, a paper trail will help to prove what variations have been agreed.
If making individual changes, employers will also need to consider whether this leaves them open to claims from other staff who may feel they are being treated less favourably. In particular, be wary of inadvertently discriminating or breaching the obligation of trust and confidence.
If you would like advice about what your contract says, or updating your working practices, please get in touch for help.
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