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Should I tell my boss if I start freelancing on the side?

As we’ve mentioned previously, there are many benefits to taking on freelance work while still in a full-time role.

However, while it’s good for you, your boss might not be so keen. So you need to make a decision: do you come clean and tell your manager what you’re doing, or keep quiet and hope no one notices?

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Am I allowed to freelance while in a full-time job?

Check your contract. Some will explicitly state that you’re not allowed to work for anyone else, in which case you’d be in breach of your contract if you freelanced on the side. This could ultimately leave you being dismissed.

However, most contracts are less stringent. Some will have a clause that says you’re not to take on additional work for competitors. Others will say you can’t do anything that creates a conflict of interest. Both are open to interpretation. If in any doubt, speak to a contract law specialist (Citizens Advice provide free guidance).

Should I tell my current employer I’m thinking of freelancing?

In an ideal world, you’d tell your boss exactly what you’re doing so as to avoid any misunderstandings later down the line. But before you book in that meeting with your manager, consider how it may look from their side. Will it look like you’re thinking of leaving? Will your boss think you’ll be less committed to your day job? Will you be putting more effort into your freelancing, coming into work the next day exhausted?

While your answer to all these questions might be a resounding ‘no’, your boss might not see it that way. Even if they appear happy to let you take on freelance work, you’ve no way of knowing how they really feel about it.

Ultimately it comes down to your relationship with your manager. If you’ve a good level of trust between each other, being open about your freelancing might be a good option.

Will HMRC tell my employer I’m freelancing?

HMRC won’t directly tell your current employer that you’re receiving income from another source. However, if you only earn a small amount HMRC may attempt to collect the tax due through PAYE via your current employer, which may alert them to your second income.

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