Is this your only job?

One website reckons times are getting so tough that people are starting to take on second jobs...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

With fuel prices soaring and food costs creeping up by the day, money’s going to get a lot tighter for most households in the coming year – at least if the gloomy prognostications of Bank of England governor Mervyn King are to be believed. In fact, according to online marketplace PeoplePerHour.com, people are getting so strapped for cash that they’re starting to take on second jobs in their free time to earn some extra money.

PeoplePerHour, which matches up projects with service providers, reports that 35% of its sellers already have a full-time job – so they’re using the site to find project work that can supplement their income. ‘On regular salaries, skilled professionals are struggling to make ends meet,’ says the site’s founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou. ‘It's little wonder increasing numbers of them are harnessing their experience and skills to offer freelance services outside office hours’.

And it’s not just the supply side of his business model that has been booming. In a downturn, companies will often look to outsource their project work rather than employ someone in-house to do the job – thus keeping their fixed costs to a minimum. So sites like this might even see an increase in demand too.

But although this is all excellent news for Thrasyvoulou (and his partner Simos Kitiris, with whom he founded the site last year), what about these people’s employers? In some cases, we imagine that your boss might be a little miffed to learn that you’ve been doing a little bit on the side at the weekends. And there’s a good chance you might be in direct breach of your employment contract – many of which include a clause that expressly forbids you from working for someone else. So a bit of discretion may be required...

Take Helen, a web designer proffered by PeoplePerHour as an example of this phenomenon. Helen already has a full-time job, but she’s apparently accumulated an extra £500 this month by selling her design services online (probably just about enough for a couple of tanks of petrol). But we noticed that her work experience profile doesn’t mention that she’s currently working; it actually says she’s been freelancing since February, suggesting that she’s not particularly keen about anyone at work discovering how she spends her weekends (even if there's no reason why it should necessarily affect her ability to do her proper job).

Doing some extra freelance work can be a great way to boost your wages – but you need to check your contract and tread carefully if you’re going to take the plunge. After all, if times are tough now, they’ll be even worse if you end up getting fired for gross misconduct...

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