Secondary employment: what is allowed? + 20 serious side jobs

Many people have a part-time job in addition to their main job – either for lack of money or simply for a bit of variety or a little extra cash for the vacations. A sideline job can serve the purpose of further education, the realization of a lifelong dream (for example, "turning a hobby into a profession") or simply the financial aspect. But you are allowed to have a side job at all? If so, under what conditions? And which side jobs would be suitable?

Definition: Secondary activity – What is it actually??

If you are in dependent employment, a secondary job means any other employment, with or without pay, which you do in addition to this employment contract. As a rule, the problem of a secondary job is that it must be approved by the main employer. The side job itself can also be in salaried form, but is also possible as self-employment, for example by registering a business. In special cases, a side job also arises as a second employment relationship with the actual main employer.

The possible income from the secondary activity must be taxed properly in addition to the main income. This remuneration is colloquially referred to as additional income or extra income. However, voluntary or unpaid work is also considered a sideline job. This means that it is subject to the same legal regulations as paid secondary employment – in whatever form.

What is allowed and what is not allowed in a part-time job?

In principle, sideline jobs are allowed and you do not have to report them to the employer. However, since many have a problem with the secondary employment of their employee, they often add a clause to the employment contract to this effect. In this way, the employer wants to prevent, for example, the employee from working for the competition on the side or from exhausting himself to the point of burnout syndrome if he becomes self-employed – although this would be prohibited anyway, as you will learn below. As is generally known, two is better than one!

So if there is a corresponding clause in your employment contract, according to which secondary activities have to be approved or reported, this clause is legally valid. The same applies to regulations resulting from valid collective agreements or company agreements. You can find out whether secondary employment is permitted in your case and under what conditions by taking a look at your individual contracts for your main job. But in Germany, as is well known, there is no rule without exception. Thus, without a corresponding contractual agreement, all sideline activities are inadmissible through which

  • the main employment contract is "endangered", for example because the employee is no longer able in terms of time or health to fulfill his contractual obligations.
  • The statutory limits on working hours are eroded, so that you no longer (can no longer) comply with the prescribed rest and vacation periods.
  • a competitive activity arises that could harm your main employer. For example, as a permanently employed web designer, you are not allowed to become self-employed in the same line of business on the side or, in the worst case, even to poach customers from your employer.
  • you endanger your health. So while you are on sick leave with your main employer, you are also not allowed to work in any side job as an employee. This would contradict the obligation of the employee on sick leave to behave in a "health-promoting" manner in the sense of his recovery.

What happens if you do not report a side job?

Most employers handle the situation in such a way that the employee must report any secondary employment and a decision is then made on a case-by-case basis as to whether the secondary job is approved or not. A clause in the employment contract that categorically excludes paid and unpaid secondary activities would be invalid anyway due to an inappropriate disadvantage of the employee. On the other hand, any secondary employment that violates the regulations already mentioned must be reported – for example, a secondary job with a competitor, as a self-employed person in the same industry, or in the event of a violation of the working hours regulations. Both the employee and the employer are therefore on the safe side when they discuss a possible sideline job with each other in advance.

However, if you as an employee do not report a secondary job, although this is required by your employment contract, or if the secondary job violates one or more of the above-mentioned "exceptions", which make it inadmissible, the employee must fear consequences such as a ban on the secondary job, a warning or, in the worst case, extraordinary termination for reasons of conduct. The legal situation must always be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If, for example, the employee has significantly competed with the main employer in the context of self-employment and has poached customers from him, a claim for damages might even be conceivable. In any case, the employee should refrain from such a risk and actually report reportable sideline activities.

Can the employer arbitrarily prohibit secondary employment??

Many employees are reluctant to report their secondary employment for fear that their employer will prohibit it and that they will no longer be able to earn extra money for their next vacation. But don’t worry: With regard to secondary employment, the law stipulates that the main employer may only prohibit it for valid and comprehensible reasons. So, if your side job (in combination with your main job) does not violate legal regulations such as working hours or in any other way puts your employer at a disadvantage, the employer may not just say no "on principle".


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Is a part-time job tax-free?

There is no special form of taxation for side jobs. They are therefore not tax-exempt, but for the tax office it ultimately makes no difference whether their income results from the main or a secondary job. Accordingly, all income from a calendar year is assessed together, regardless of the type and number of secondary activities. Thus, such a side income may increase your tax rate and, consequently, the tax burden of your main job. If you are self-employed as a sideline, additional types of tax such as sales tax or trade tax may still be due.

Which serious side job offers itself?

To improve your income with a serious side job is a wish of many professionals, if the income from a full-time job is not enough. The reasons for this may vary, and are as much to do with the rising cost of living as the desire to afford some luxury.

However, it is not always so easy to find a serious side job that pays fairly and does not conflict with your main job, for example because of the working hours. A decisive point of orientation when choosing a side job is therefore the time availability. The second step is to select a job according to one’s own qualifications and skills. We now have
20 suggestions for you, which are among the "classics" of part-time jobs:

  1. geriatric nurse: You have to be born to be a geriatric nurse, but you can also earn money by caring for the elderly in a nursing home. You read something to the elderly, play board games or have a chat. Sometimes it also requires an escort for shopping or a driver for medical appointments. It is less about medical care, for which you need special training, but much more some company and help in everyday life for those in need of care.
  2. Delivery Driver: For those with a valid driver’s license and driving experience, temporary jobs as delivery drivers are available. From food to medicine to newspapers, the opportunities vary and with them the working hours. In any case, what is important for a part-time job in delivery is a safe driving style and enjoyment of being on the road.
  3. Accounting, evening secretarial and data processing: For qualified employees in the commercial sector, side jobs in preparatory accounting, data processing or as an evening secretary offer good opportunities to supplement the household coffers. Here, the working hours are set for the evening or can be completely freely arranged. Solid previous knowledge in the respective area is necessary.
  4. Call Center: Call centers are constantly looking for new personnel. Your job will be to either call customers or answer incoming calls, so a friendly telephone voice is required.
  5. Ebay stores: An Ebay store offers a very special category of secondary employment. Again, it is important to check here if a business needs to be registered, and to deal with the legalities to avoid hassle and costs. In addition, there is a certain financial risk associated with such a store, since goods must first be purchased before they can be moved. A possibility therefore for people with experience in the trade. Reliability and organized work are essential.
  6. Retail: Helping out at the checkout, stocking shelves or working as a floater – the retail sector offers numerous opportunities for extra income. Consulting in a specialized department or as a generalist, necessary are basically a clean criminal record, openness and reliability.
  7. Fitness instructor: If you like to do something for your health and are active in sports, you can take on a temporary job as a fitness instructor. This requires various trainer’s certificates, depending on the sporting direction, the cost of which is more of a long-term decision, but one that can be worthwhile. In addition, fitness classes can easily be done online nowadays, z. B. for home workouts. These are a great way to stay fit especially now at Corona time.
  8. Freelance sales activities: Countless opportunities are also available in the direct sales industry. However, caution is advised here. A job offer from this area should be carefully checked for seriousness. In addition, strong sales skills and above-average openness are necessary. Offers, which presuppose the purchase of goods by the salesman, should not be accepted in principle.
  9. Gastronomy: Whether as a temp in the kitchen or as a waitress in the dining room, even helpers without specialized training have good chances of employment here. Flexibility in terms of working hours and the availability of jobs speak in favor of a part-time job in the catering trade, because catering businesses can be found practically everywhere. However, the enjoyment of working with people and physical resilience are indispensable.
  10. Building cleaning: Experience with cleaning utensils and techniques is helpful for a part-time job in building cleaning. The working hours here are regularly outside normal business hours and are not very flexible. Thus, jobs in building cleaning are only suitable for those workers who are looking for extra income that can be done in the evening hours. Determined and thorough work is important here, as are reliability and honesty.
  11. Internet offers, homepages and earning opportunities online: Meanwhile, the earning opportunities on the Internet are also numerous and available to everyone. Starting with homepages and blogs, which can bring in money through advertisements, to paid website offers, many things are possible. However, it is often forgotten by the medium that online sales are also taxable and may require the registration of a trade – and here too, by no means all offers are reputable. Without legal advice in advance, the provider can thus maneuver himself into great financial distress.
  12. Childcare: An attractive opportunity for those with strong nerves and a lot of patience is taking care of strange children. As a daycare mother or father during the day or as a babysitter in the evening, a part-time job in this field involves a great deal of responsibility. Of course, love of children is a must here, as a daycare is also an appropriate space to play and accommodate the children is needed.
  13. teachers: It doesn’t always have to be tutoring, because you can also give lessons at adult education centers or sports clubs. Anyone who is talented in any subject or is very athletic and enjoys meeting people can earn some money here doing something fun.
  14. Tutoring: Those who still remember their school days and are proficient in German, math or English can take a part-time job as a tutor. But for this you should have the necessary knowledge and be able to deal with children as well as teenagers. The earnings per hour depend very much on the target group, because someone who tutors teenagers in high school or even students earns considerably more than a tutor for students in lower grades. Thus, the range is between about ten and 18 euros per hour.
  15. Property protection: Since working hours usually start late in the evening and end late at night or early in the morning, jobs in property protection are only suitable for workers who usually do their main job underground. Physically moderately strenuous, however, a part-time job in object protection is potentially dangerous and involves great responsibility. An impeccable reputation, reliability and strong nerves are important requirements here. Depending on the specific position, the qualification to carry weapons may be required.
  16. Product Testers: Product testing involves testing new products of various types, and the results are published on the internet. Remunerated is the retrieval of a test report, sometimes a positive evaluation is also the prerequisite for payment. The more product tests you publish, the higher your earnings will be. But ultimately it will usually only be enough for pocket money – and a lot of free products.
  17. Self-employed service provider: Some Internet platforms offer services of all kinds. They range from manual labor to office work to sewing, gardening or whatever you’re good at. The big advantage is that you set your own hourly wage and earn money doing work that you enjoy. You are completely flexible and determine the working hours as well as the scope yourself.
  18. Gas station attendant: A gas station attendant can be employed at the cash register, but can also help customers fill up their tanks. Then, assistance with windshield cleaning and checking air pressure and oil levels is also included. The job is therefore well suited to young men who are not afraid to get their hands dirty and who have a certain technical understanding of cars. The job is happy to work on a marginal basis.
  19. Cab drivers: Working as a cab driver is subject to certain conditions, such as being allowed to transport people. If you want to work long-term as a temp and are not afraid to work evenings, nights or weekends, you are well advised to take this side job.
  20. Gym counter worker: As a counter worker in a fitness studio, you serve visitors with water, coffee, mineral drinks and protein shakes. The job is usually a marginal employment, special previous knowledge is not necessary, because the work requires only a short training phase. At the same time, the customs in each studio are slightly different, but those who like to approach people, should not have any problems to learn in the short term.

Conclusion: Secondary income – yes or no?

So, in conclusion, for those of you who are looking for a side income opportunity, there are numerous possibilities. However, it is important to clarify the permissibility of secondary activities with the main employer in advance in order to avoid the risk of a warning or dismissal. You should also make sure not to exceed certain income limits. Otherwise, the additional income can quickly turn out to be zero due to tax deductions. Whether a part-time job is worthwhile and which one is the right choice for you is something you will ultimately have to decide for yourself or work out for yourself. But you should also be aware that you will lose valuable free time – and after all, money isn’t everything in life.

What is your secondary activity?? Or are you fundamentally opposed to earning extra money and why? What is it about part-time self-employment?? Is it worthwhile and what do those affected have to watch out for?? We thank you for your additions in the comments!

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