With the cost of living on the rise and average salaries in the UK barely keeping in step with inflation, increasing numbers of UK employees are turning to second jobs (aka side hustles) to maintain their lifestyle, or simply make ends meet. On the face of it this may not appear to be a major issue for employers, providing their attendance at and quality of work is not adversely affected by time spent on other jobs. But what happens if it does? Here’s what you need to consider in managing these employees.
Conflicts of interest
First and foremost, employers need to ensure that they are protected from potential conflicts of interest and competition if any of their employees start moonlighting for a competitor. You should have express contractual terms prohibiting employees from working with/for any other business that might be in competition with the employer, and in any event ensure that they first seek and receive approval from the employer before taking up any alternative employment. There should also be an express contractual obligation for the employee to spend all their time at work in pursuit of the employer’s business and not working on personal or other business endeavours. The use of the employer’s facilities and equipment should also be for the exclusive benefit of the employer’s business and not for any personal or other business activities.
The European Working Time Directive and UK Working Time Regulations put a limit on the total number of working hours an individual should be expected to work per week, 48 hours, which applies across all jobs. This means that there is an obligation on the employer, in the absence of an opt out of the 48 hour agreement, to monitor the employee’s working hours not just for them, but across any/all work the employee may be undertaking for themselves or any other employer.
This is why employees are obligated to declare any other work and that the employer notes the hours they are working in full to ensure compliance with the Working Time Regulations. Employees engaged on driving duties, either for their main employers or any secondary business, are even more restricted due to the Driving Hours Regulations, so it is essential that employers are aware and ensure full compliance with the law in this regard.
Health and safety
Health and safety obligations also govern the employer’s and employee’s responsibility to ensure their fitness for work at all times. Working on personal and other business endeavours may negatively impact the employee’s rest periods and result in increased fatigue that may influence the employee’s fitness to work and to work safely and productively for the employer.
If any employee becomes distracted by their outside business interests, this should be addressed informally by the line manager in the first instance and the rules and expectations regarding their commitment to the employer’s business be highlighted. If their conduct continues to pose a risk to the employer’s business, or their attendance and quality of work deteriorates then formal action under the Employer’s Code of Conduct, disciplinary and dismissal procedure or performance and capability procedure should be considered.