More than four million UK workers considering a second job to combat cost of living, survey finds

Data highlights gap in employer support as a third received no financial help last year

Credit: Kinga Krzeminska/Getty Images

One in 10 (16 per cent) UK employees – which amounts to 4.5 million people – are considering taking a second job this year to make ends meet, according to new data. 

The Censuswide research, commissioned by Unum, also found that a fifth (19 per cent) – a total of 5.4 million people – are expected to begin the new year looking for a new job with better benefits or a higher salary. 

Additionally, a third (35 per cent) of the 3,000 respondents surveyed in October 2022 said they received no cost of living support from their employer last year. 

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Antonio Fletcher, associate director and head of employment at Whitehead Monckton, said employers have obligations under the Working Time Regulations to ensure that employees do not work in excess of an average of 48 hours per week during any 17-week reference period, unless they have opted out of the maximum working week. But he added that most contracts require employees to disclose if they are taking on a second job. “This is for a number of reasons, including the point above regarding compliance with the Working Time Regulations,” he said. 

“It also seeks to prevent competition while in employment as well as ensuring, for example, that hybrid and home workers are not undertaking other work during hours that they should be working for their employer.”

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On the possibility of businesses changing their contracts to accommodate those needing to take a second job, Charles Cotton, senior reward adviser at the CIPD, said employers could in fact benefit from those taking another job. “An employee could gain valuable experience while working as a non-executive director,” said Cotton, who added that there were mental health and wellbeing concerns, but “it might be an idea to review your reward package” to help. 

Ian Jones, founder and principal solicitor at Spencer Shaw, warned that employees could face legal action if their second job impinges on their first. “If either contract requires an employee to work additional time or overtime, there’s a possibility that the jobs could conflict,” said Jones. “This could lead to disciplinary action if the employee doesn’t or can’t comply with an instruction to work more hours.” 

He added that it was “sensible” for employees to discuss any additional employment with their employer. 

The research also highlighted that the economy has given rise to general concern among employees, as two thirds (60 per cent) said managing financially was their biggest worry, with work-life balance impacting almost two fifths (37 per cent) and a further 29 per cent citing mental health. 

A further third of employees (33 per cent) said they were struggling with debt and rises in mortgage interest rates, with more than half (57 per cent) planning to turn their heating off entirely. Another 24 per cent will be forced to use their savings. 

However, a previous article by People Management pointed out that if home-working staff are having to turn their heating off during working hours, employers will still have a responsibility to ensure their wellbeing under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. 

Alexandra Mizzi, legal director at Howard Kennedy, previously commented that employers were not expected to take a hands-on approach by turning up at employees’ homes “brandishing thermometers”, but they should remind home workers of the need to maintain a safe temperature and offer advice. Mizzi added that employers were not “obliged to pay towards heating bills or provide heaters”.