Secondary employment: Answers to 9 frequently asked questions from employers. (2024)

Whether private appraisal or speaking activities, supervisory board positions, business coaching, yoga training or a mini-job: If an employee earns money through their own labor in addition to their primary job, this is regarded as secondary employment.

1. Does the secondary employment require approval?
Article 12 (1) of the Basic Law guarantees the freedom to choose and pursue a profession. As such, secondary employment is permitted in principle. Consequently, employers and HR managers are not permitted to generally prohibit a second job via employment contract or the employer’s right to issue instructions. A corresponding clause to this effect in the employment contract is invalid.

If employees do not disclose their secondary employment, this may constitute a breach of duty pursuant to the employment contract. This would entitle the employer to compensation and/or even termination of the employment relationship.

2. When is secondary employment prohibited?
However, there are limits: If the secondary employment violates the legitimate interests of the primary employer, the secondary employment is not permitted and consequently the primary employer can prohibit it, if necessary. This is the case, for instance, if an employee regularly shows up overtired at work for their primary employer because he or she has a second job as a bartender, cab driver or at a security company with late shifts or night shifts.

However, the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of profession means that banning secondary employment is only an option after all more lenient alternatives have been exhausted. For example, reducing the working time of the secondary employment could be one more lenient option.

3. Does the secondary employment count as working time?
According to the Working Hours Act (ArbZG), employees may not work more than eight hours per day. A person who already works full-time for eight hours a day is not permitted to work a mini-job at a restaurant or as a cleaner, especially as the eleven-hour rest break between the daily working hours has to be complied with.

It is important to be aware that the working hours at multiple employers are added together in accordance with Section 2 (1) (1), 2nd half-sentence of the Working Hours Act (ArbZG). All employers involved are responsible for monitoring compliance with working hours and rest periods. As such, they may all be liable in the event of violations. Employers may face fines of up to 30,000 euros or even imprisonment for up to one year if the employer knew or should have known that the total of the primary and secondary employment exceeds the maximum limits of the Working Hours Act.

However, there are exceptions: For example, the Working Hours Act does not apply to executive employees or chief physicians. Even employees who are self-employed on the side do not need to adhere to maximum working hours or minimum rest breaks. But even in these cases, if the secondary employment is too demanding on the employee, this may constitute a violation of the employer’s legitimate interests. In turn, this could justify prohibition of the secondary employment.

4. Is working in competition permissible?
If employees have a second job with a competitor or become a competitor themselves, employers are entitled to prohibit the secondary employment pursuant to Section 60 of the German Commercial Code. But what counts as competition? The decisive factor is not the employee’s sideline activity but the employer’s competitive situation: Is the same product sold, for example? To the same customer group? According to Federal Labor Court, an employee of Deutsche Post AG is permitted to work as a part-time newspaper deliverer for a publishing company which also offers Postal services.

5. Is the secondary employment exempt from social insurance?
If the secondary employment is a mini-job and, therefore, a marginal employment, no employee contributions to social insurance have to be paid. However, in this case, the employer is obliged to pay lump-sum social security contributions. It is also important to be aware that remuneration from multiple marginal employment relationships with different employers must be added together. As a consequence, the marginal earnings limit can quickly be exceeded. In this case, employee and employer social security contributions become necessary. If the employer knew or should have known about the other marginal employment relationships, they also face the risk of subsequent payments.

6. Rules regarding volunteer work?
In principle, the legal regulations governing paid secondary employment also apply to honorary offices and voluntary work. However, prohibiting this form of secondary employment is even more difficult. For example, if employees are part of the volunteer fire department, some German federal states even require them to take time off for drills and assignments. In return, private employers are entitled to claim reimbursem*nt for the costs from the municipality. Similar regulations apply to the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief. Under certain circ*mstances, employers may even be entitled to reimbursem*nt of wages.

7. Is secondary employment permissible when on leave?
The German Federal Leave Act states that vacation time is specifically intended for rest and recovery. Therefore, employees may only work or volunteer to the extent that these activities does not interfere with their rest and recovery. The specific secondary employment determines whether or not this rest and recovery is at risk.

8. Working secondary employment despite sick leave?
If a doctor has put an employee on sick leave and the employee nevertheless works at the secondary employment during this time, the primary employer may be entitled to terminate the employment relationship without notice and even without a prior warning (Federal Labor Court, ruling dated August 26, 1993, Ref. 2 AZR 154/93).

9. Rules during parental leave?
Parents are permitted work up to 32 hours per week during parental leave. If they wish to work for an employer other than their primary employer, they need the primary employer’s permission.

Secondary employment: Answers to 9 frequently asked questions from employers. (2024)


What is considered a secondary employment? ›

Secondary Employment refers to participation in (1) a second job (part-time, full-time or project related), or (2) an organization including, without limitation, a corporation, association, partnership or sole proprietorship.

How will my employer know if I have a second job? ›

Furthermore, your employers will likely find out due to social media and the internet. It'd be much better for both employers to find out about your side hustle straight from you instead of LinkedIn.

What is the difference between primary and secondary employment? ›

For primary wage earners, their job is the main source of income for themselves and their family, whereas secondary wage earn- ers depend on another worker for the majority of their family's income.

What is the definition of a secondary job? ›

What is Secondary Employment? Secondary employment is any additional work, including paid and unpaid work an employee undertakes, or is planning to undertake, for another employer or work they may undertake as a self-employed person or as the partner of a self-employed person.

What are examples of secondary labor jobs? ›

Some examples of secondary jobs include:
  • Fast-food workers.
  • Retail workers.
  • Landscapers.
  • Yard workers.
  • Dishwashers.
  • Waiters.

Can I work two jobs without the other knowing? ›

As a general rule, unless you've signed a valid employment contract that prohibits you from taking a second job, there's no law against working for more than one company.

Can I work a second job without telling my employer? ›

If this is the case, you don't really have to discuss your other jobs with your employer if you don't want to. Because it doesn't directly affect things, it's OK to not discuss it at work. If you do decide to let your employer know, you probably don't want to make a big deal out of it.

Is it illegal to look for another job while employed? ›

While it isn't expressly prohibited by law, we wouldn't recommend it. You might be surprised by how many of your employees are looking for other opportunities—either actively or passively—while still doing good work for your organization.

Is having a second job a conflict of interest? ›

It is absolutely appropriate for employers to ensure that a second job does not represent a conflict of interest in terms of working for a competitor or sharing confidential or proprietary information or materials.

What is a secondary type of work? ›

The secondary sector involves the transformation of raw materials into goods. This transformation results in wood being made into furniture, steel being made into cars or textiles being made into clothes, as examples. The types of workers in this sector include a seamstress, factory worker or craftsman.

Which is an example of a secondary sector job? ›

Secondary Sector - Key takeaways. The secondary sector is the sector of the economy that revolves around manufacturing. Secondary sector activity includes construction, fabrication, assembly, distillation, and purification. Think construction sites and factories.

Who are secondary workers? ›

Secondary worker means a Worker serving in a non-teaching or non oversight capacity, such as a nursery worker or a person supporting a Primary Worker.

What are examples of secondary duties? ›

Secondary duties include duties to do something about the values that are set back, or will otherwise be set back, by breaching primary duties—those who wrongly harm, for example, must negate that harm or compensate the person for suffering it; those who have breached contracts must either perform conduct similar to ...

What is a secondary position job description? ›

A secondary position is another job in addition to the employee's primary job. In order to have a secondary position, an employee must already have a primary position on the Biweekly Payroll. The secondary position can be in the same department as the employee's primary position or in another department.

What does secondary mean at work? ›

Definition 1. Work performed by the employee or self-employed person in addition to the main job. The secondary job is the job on which the person uses less time compared with the main job.

What type of job is secondary? ›

The secondary sector consists of processing, manufacturing, and construction companies. The secondary sector produces goods from the natural products within the primary sector.

Can I work for two employers on W2? ›

If you have only one W-2 job, your employer stops taking out SS tax when you reach the limit. But if you have multiple W2 jobs and/or self-employment income, the amount of SS tax your pay may be more than what you actually owe. Any extra is squared up and refunded to you when you file your taxes.

Can you be clocked in at two jobs at the same time? ›

It is generally illegal to be clocked into two jobs simultaneously. Employees cannot work for more than one employer at the same time under most work contracts and employment laws. This can result in problems like dishonesty, contract violations, and even legal repercussions.

Can you work two jobs at one company? ›

But can you work full-time and part-time for the same company? Yes, although you'll want to keep good records to make sure you're paid accurately. Different payment amounts or structures also require you to understand your compensation rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act and within your state.

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