Doing more than one job: the new norm?

By J&C Team

The number of people doing more than one job is increasing. For some it is the only way to get by in the current financial climate. Others find it gives them greater flexibility and more independence if they adopt what is referred to as a “portfolio career”.

A recent survey found the number of people moonlighting to boost their income has more than doubled in the last year. The survey by online freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour found some 42% of those ‘moonlighting’ are in households earning between £30k and £40k per annum, with the moonlighting hotspots being Liverpool, Manchester and Bolton, according to the survey. It found the number of people registering on the PeoplePerHour site to earn extra cash alongside a full or part time job has risen by 112% to just over 193,000.

Many were doing so to cover basics like heating and food. The majority of moonlighters are so-called ‘five-to-niners’, working in the early evenings on top of their full-time nine-to-five day jobs, while more than half work weekends. A quarter do small chunks of work in their lunch hour and 18% work through the night to earn some extra cash. The range of skills being exploited include design, bookkeeping and copywriting, but also fixing bikes, walking dogs and researching family histories. Some 38% put in six to 10 hours a week on top of their regular jobs, but seven percent work 21-25 hours a week extra.

Financial necessity is not the only reason people take on extra work, however. Many people have set up their own businesses as a sideline to a regular job. This allows them to grow their business while maintaining some form of financial stability.’s recent annual survey shows there is a huge appetite for self employment among working mums in particular as they seek more flexible ways of working which mean they have more control over how, when and where they work. The survey shows almost two thirds of working mums have considered setting up their own businesses and 38% have put the wheels in motion. For many, the best way to start will be to combine regular paid work with growing their own business.

Portfolio careers

Doing more than one job could also spread to regular working practices. A recent survey by KPMG found 63 per cent of business leaders believe that portfolio workers will gain mainstream commercial acceptance within the next 10 years, although HR workers were less convinced. The survey researched attitudes towards portfolio workers, which KPMG describes as “a nascent form of employment most commonly seen amongst non-exec directors”. Portfolio workers differ from freelancers by having contracts in place with a number of different companies simultaneously, with a guaranteed number of hours of work from all during any given period of time.

David Knight, associate partner in the P3 team at KPMG said: “There is certainly a need for organisations to be able to switch on and off their workforce in line with demand without incurring financial liability, though flex within the workforce currently isn’t easy or effective.  Combine that with a push from younger generations to work in a different way from their predecessors, and it highlights the need for better use of the workforce. Our research shows that this form of employment can become the norm in 10 years time.”

He believes this will get round employee resentment when businesses bring in freelancers at a higher rate during peak periods or for special projects. HR directors, however, fear not enough employers are offering this sort of option and are worried about the client confidentiality and intellectual property implications of employing people who might also be working for their competitors.

There are clearly benefits for employers in hiring portfolio workers, but what about employees? There are potential drawbacks as well as silver linings. For instance, women who do more than one job can qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay from both if they reach the eligibility criteria on length of employment and earnings. Those who are doing a self employed and an employed job will not be so lucky. They can either claim SMP on the employed job or Maternity Allowance on the self employed job, but not both. Which one works best for them will depend on their earnings.

For many working more than one job is a financial necessity, but for others it offers the possibility of greater independence since they are not wholly dependent on just one employer while, unlike freelancers, they keep the benefits – pension, holidays and so forth – that employees have.

There may even be a creative overlap between jobs with skills learned at one job being applied in another setting.

What is clear is that it is part of a shifting work culture where full time may no longer be the norm.