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Pandemic leads to more workers having a side gig

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The pandemic has led to more people juggling more than one job or mixing employment with self-employment, according to new research.

A survey undertaken by freelance jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour found that 19% of freelancers were self-employed in addition to holding an employed position.

Nearly two-fifths of those had started their side gig in the past 12 months, and a third said they planned to continue to mix both types of work.

PeoplePerHour said it had seen its biggest rise in registrations for more than a decade during the pandemic, with a 61% jump in freelancer registrations on the platform last year.

Of those new sign-ups, more than a third said they had signed up because they lost their job or were furloughed, 40% wanted to increase their income and 20% wanted to switch to freelancing full-time.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, said: “There has been a remarkable increase in the number of people working a freelance side hustle. This seems to be a function of the additional time many employees have got out of the pandemic – whether because they have been furloughed, unable to work their normal jobs or simply because they are no longer losing time to the daily commute.

“For some, of course, this trend reflects the need for additional income because of the financial hit of the pandemic.

Multi-jobbers lose out
Separate research from Scottish Widows revealed there had also been a rise in the number of people with more than one employed job.

Its survey of more than 5,000 people suggested that 15% of UK workers have more than one job, and that the majority of these have multiple employed positions rather than being self-employed on the side.

It also found that more than half of these multi-jobbers had only taken on their additional job since the beginning of the pandemic.

The insurance and pensions company warned that many of these people were missing out on pension contributions because of automatic enrolment thresholds.

Workers are only automatically enrolled into a company pension when a job pays more than £10,000 a year. The research suggested that almost half (49%) of those with multiple jobs under this threshold were not enrolled in a company pension and were therefore missing out on the 3% minimum contribution an employer must make if a worker earns at least £6,240 per year.

Scottish Widows is calling on the government to scrap the minimum threshold so that in future all workers are auto-enrolled.

Pete Glancy, Retirement Expert at Scottish Widows, said: “While auto-enrolment has been a game-changer for boosting the workplace pension pots of millions across the UK, those whose income comes from more than one job are losing out significantly relative to those with the same income from a single job.

“This was an issue that we first highlighted in 2018 based on research conducted at that time, and our latest research suggests that the problem is not going away.

“A shift towards more multi-jobbers will reverse some of the gains made by auto-enrolment, so the argument to remove the earnings threshold is getting stronger and should be a top priority for the next evolution of the scheme.”

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