The implications of taking a second job

Allison McCafferty
Image caption Allison McCafferty says a second job has helped her maintain her lifestyle

For most people, the end of a long day at work means a chance to put their feet up. But for others, the evening is an opportunity to make some much-needed extra cash.

Allison McCafferty, who works in the music industry, is one of those people. Last year, she split from her partner and found herself struggling financially. The extra work she does allows her to maintain her lifestyle.

"I have my flat to pay for. I have bills and the cost of transport is rising," she says.

"All of these things mean that I can still specialise in the field that I choose to, but - as and when I need to - I can top up my income."

She is not alone. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate that more than a million people in the UK have a second job.

Some work to pay off a credit card bill, to save for a holiday or simply to find enough money to keep up with rising household bills.

Working mums

Miss McCafferty signed up to the People Per Hour website. It allows businesses to post jobs and allows people looking for extra work to advertise their skills. The website takes a cut of the pay of the employee when the match is made.

The number of people signing up to take on second jobs on the website has gone up dramatically recently, according to founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou.

"Second job seekers is our fastest growing sector. It's doubled in the last 12 months," he says.

Those taking on second jobs are also becoming more varied, he says.

"It is anything from students to retirees, and anyone in between. Mum entrepreneurs, or stay-at-home mums, is a big community on the website. Many are actually on maternity leave."

Tax implications

While a second job could take the edge off stretched household budgets, those choosing extra work should consider the tax implications.

For example, depending on their circumstances, somebody who earns £20,000 a year from a main job, and then took on a second job which brought in a further £10,000 income, could end up paying £3,200 in tax and National Insurance contributions.

Clare Merrills, from HM Revenue and Customs, explains that there are different ways of taking on extra work. She says that workers should be aware of how this could make an impact on tax payments

"If you work for somebody, then you need to tell them when you start working for them that you have another job, so that they can make sure they take the right amount of tax off you, rather than giving you another set of tax-free allowances," she says.

"They will speak to us and we will make sure we get the correct tax code. If you go down the self-employed route for a second job, it is your responsibility to get in touch with us and tell us that you have taken on a second role.

"We can get you on our records as a self-employed person and then we can give you the right help and advice that you will need to actually pay us the right amount of tax."

The employment body ACAS also believes that communication is key.

It encourages employees to discuss second job offers with a current employer, prior to accepting the job. That way, issues can be discussed and the employee can take a more informed decision about whether or not it is a good idea.

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