The quick answer? No, your employer won’t automatically find out if you’re self-employed. In this day and age, having a side hustle is becoming pretty commonplace. Supplementing a salary with a second (or even third) source of income is a great way to expand your skills offering and of course, bump up your bank balance. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash, grow your network, indulge in your passions and continue to diversify your talents.
However, if you are going to go down the route of secondary self-employment, alongside your regular ‘day job’, there are some things you need to consider. For example, if you earn more than £1,000 from self-employment activities in a tax year, you’ll need to let HMRC know by registering for Self Assessment. And then, of course, submitting tax returns so that you pay the right amount of tax on your earnings.
Informing HMRC is one thing, but what many side-hustlers are concerned about is their employer finding out about their extracurricular activity.
Can you register for self-employment if you’re already employed?
Absolutely! Even if you’re on the payroll for a full-time or part-time job, you’re still allowed to work for yourself outside of those hours. For example, somebody who works in marketing might do some freelance copywriting or social media management on the side. This secondary source of income classes as self-employment and can run parallel alongside their regular employment.
The benefits of working for yourself as well as for an employer are many, but the most common include:
- Earning more money – perhaps the most appealing advantage and most common motivation.
- Being able to develop and explore the skillset you use in your regular role.
- A chance to dip your toe into the water of new or alternative skills that you aren’t able to fulfil through your employment.
- Expanding your network of contacts.
- Being able to turn a passion into income.
- You get to learn a great deal about business ownership and being on the other side of the books.
Will a full-time employer find out if you’re self-employed?
Unless you tell your employer directly, there is no reason why they should have to find out about your self-employed work. The only other way they might find out is if you tell a colleague or mutual connection about your side hustle and it gets back to your employer that way.
However, in terms of tax codes and self-employment registration – two things that many employed people are concerned will give them up – you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Your tax information is highly confidential so HMRC will never inform your employer if you register as self-employed. Nor would that be necessary as your PAYE income and self-employed earnings are entirely separate in the eyes of HMRC. The only reason that this might change is if you ask HMRC to collect your self-employed tax through your tax code.
What if I register a limited company?
The only other way this might become a potential issue, if you’re hellbent on hiding your side job from your employer, is if you register a Limited Company.
These details are shared publicly on Companies House so all your employer would need to do is a quick search to find information about your business. That said, it’s highly unlikely they would do this unprovoked, or without prior knowledge.
Is honesty the best policy in this situation?
Although it’s very unlikely that your employer would find out about your self-employed work without you telling them directly, is it worth being transparent with them about it?
Honesty is usually the best policy, but the decision is yours alone to make. Just consider:
- There might be something in your employment contract that forbids you from having any additional work, which means a side job would be in breach of that.
- Transparency lays the foundations for a healthy relationship with your employer – something that is going to be pivotal in your future success within your role there.
- If your employer is supportive of your self-employment, they might even be able to help you out with some contacts or advice.
- Again, if your employer is in support of your side hustle, making them aware might mean they can be more flexible around things like annual leave and working hours to accommodate your other commitments where possible.
Our top tips on balancing more than one job
If you are juggling both regular employment and self-employment, it can be tricky to strike a healthy balance between the two. The aim of the game is to find a balance that means you can maintain your own wellbeing whilst ensuring that you’re doing your best possible work for all involved.
Here is our advice on how to master the juggling act:
- Be realistic about what your clients can expect from you – and be honest with them about it!
- Identify your goals. Are you hoping to make some extra income, or to become fully self-employed, for instance? Keep these in mind – it will help you remember when it’s time to say no!
- Know when you’ve reached your capacity so that you don’t get burnt out.
- Make sure you’re registered as self-employed so that you can report your additional earnings to HMRC and pay the necessary deductions. Failing to do so could land you in some serious trouble.
Wondering where to begin? Read our guide to becoming a freelancer!