How should an employer handle an employee’s side hustle?

“Side hustle” is the new buzz word for having a second job, on the side, to make some extra money in addition to the salary received from the individual’s normal role. Such jobs are often used to allow an individual to focus on a passion whilst maintaining a steady stream of income from their day to day role.

New research by GoDaddy has found that a fifth of UK workers are thinking about starting a side hustle over the next two years. As this is an area that looks set to grow, what do employers need to know?

The research reported that a majority of employees starting a side hustle would not tell the employer of their main role as they felt they would not be supportive. It’s vital that the main employer is aware that the employee is carrying out a second role as this will have implications on the duties owed under working time rules. As such, employers should include an express rule within their documentation requiring employees to notify them of taking on a second role.

Encouraging staff to talk about their passions will not only allow you to understand the implications, but could improve employee engagement with their main employment. Showing support will encourage loyalty and could lead to better productivity during working hours as the individual can be focused on the job at hand.

There are competition considerations to take into account. Whilst most side hustles are used to explore passions or interests outside the working career, there may be employees who start their own venture that conflicts with their main employer’s interests. There is an implied term of fidelity in all employment contracts. However, it will be prudent to include an express non-competition clause or policy which specifies what the employee can and can’t do in relation to competing activities. Also setting out rules around confidentiality and the use of confidential information will ensure that this cannot be relied on in the side hustle.

A side hustle may, in some cases, result in a successful venture that allows the individual to leave their main role to continue with their business on a full-time basis. Having well-drafted restrictive covenants in place will protect your business from any poaching of workers or solicitation of customers. Any action which breaches this covenant post-employment can then be challenged.

*Alan Price is Director of Employment Law at HR advisers Peninsula.

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