Last week we looked at whether it’s a good idea to start moonlighting, as it can have a mixture of benefits and pitfalls.
If you’ve decided that you’d like to take on some extra work, here’s how to ensure your success.
Don’t jeopardise the day job
Check your work contract to make sure it doesn’t exclude you from working extra hours outside your day job, and don’t moonlight by working for direct competitors.
If in doubt, have a quiet word with human resources about the situation, or talk to your boss (if they’re a reasonable person). Say you’re thinking about doing it, and ask if that’s ok.
Some people take the risk of moonlighting in areas where there’s direct competition, or they steal clients away from their day job. If you’re tempted to try this, remember that you could get sacked, and possibly taken to court.
Moonlighting can be tiring, at least to begin with. Once you’ve come home from an additional evening shift, take it easy and try to get to bed as soon as you can. Being half asleep during your main employment isn’t good for your job prospects.
Where possible, try not to take on extra work that means you’re dashing away from your day job the moment the working day ends. Allow for a bit of a time buffer between the two.
Fill the correct forms in
If you’re doing a second job as an employee, the new employer should give you a P46 form to fill in to make sure you’re paying the right amount of National Insurance and Tax. This is sent directly back to HMRC for processing, so your main employer will not be notified.
Bear in mind that if you’re working for cash in hand, you’re breaking the law if you don’t pay tax on this money. There’s more about this on the Directgov website, and be warned, there’s a hotline for reporting cheats.
If you’re freelancing, or running an eBay shop or other business on the side, you must register with HMRC for tax self assessment. You can do this online here.
Be diligent with your records
If you’re working for a second employer, keep an accurate record of hours worked, and wages paid to you.
If you’re freelancing or running your own small business, be scrupulous about noting down everything you sell or are hired to do. You should also keep a backup of these records somewhere safe.
It’s generally best not to discuss your extra work with co-workers at your main job, just in case a spiteful person reports you to the management. Many years ago I was unfortunate to find myself in this position thanks to a nasty office gossip – but luckily I’d already squared my freelance work with the boss!
On a similar note, if you’re working part time in food or drink service, preparation or delivery, don’t turn up to your day job smelling of fast food or booze. It’s a dead giveaway and will attract unwanted attention.
Do you moonlight? What are your tips for success?