Global trends in Side Jobs|America|Europe|Asia

With the spread of remote work after Covid19, Side Jobs are becoming more and more popular.

In this post, I have compared and researched the legal systems and the number of people engaged in Side Jobs worldwide to understand the reality of Side Jobs in the world and how they will work in the future.

What is a side job?

There is no clear definition of "side job" in the law.

In general, however, it refers to "earning income outside of one's main job."

Why do people do Side Jobs?

According to a questionnaire survey conducted on those who have a second job, 56.6% said "To increase my income," 19.8% said "To expand my field of activity," and 18.6% said "To have more time.

This shows that the needs of workers for Side Jobs are diversifying and increasing their income.

In this post, I will compare the legal system and the number of people engaged in Side Jobs from the perspective of each country.

There are several perspectives, but the main points are "whether or not Side Jobs are legally allowed" and "whether there are regulations on working hours.

The points for each country are summarized in the table below.

The United States

There are no legal restrictions on Side Jobs in the U.S., where many famous tech companies and people have a great image.

In addition, there are no regulations on working hours, including those for Side Jobs, so as you can imagine, Side Jobs are tolerated.

Google's "20% rule," which allows employees to devote 20% of their primary job to other activities, is very famous.


the United Kingdom

The U.K. is home to Ireland, aggressively attracting foreign companies with its low corporate tax rate.

In the U.K., it is possible to include a clause in employment contracts prohibiting second jobs if there is a rational reason for doing so, such as preventing competition.

In addition, the working hours are not to exceed 48 hours/week in principle, which is a bit conservative compared to the U.S., making it relatively difficult to have a second job.


Germany is said to have the shortest working hours among the developed countries.

As in the UK, Germany allows employees to include a clause in their employment contract prohibiting second jobs if there is a reasonable reason for doing so, such as preventing competition.

There is a system called "mini-jobs" in Germany, where income up to 450 Euro/month is tax-free even if it is not from your primary job.

In addition, working hours must not exceed 10 hours per day and 8 hours per day for an average of 6 months.

It is one of the countries with the strictest regulations on working hours, so if anything, it is more of a side job to supplement the income from the main job.

Southeast Asia(Vietnam)

Vietnam has set an ambitious goal of increasing the number of enterprises from 400,000 in 2015 to 1 million by 2020 and is steadily growing while ASEAN countries are experiencing negative growth due to Covid19.

Vietnam's labor law recognizes Side Jobs as a right of workers, so it is not possible to prohibit Side Jobs at all.

The maximum working hours are 12 hours per day, but overtime is limited to 30 hours per month in principle.

Asia (Japan)

In Japan, as in the U.K., it is possible to restrict or prohibit second jobs if there are reasons to prevent competition.

In Japan, as in the U.K., it is possible to restrict or prohibit second jobs to prevent competition.

However, if labor and management agree, overtime can be up to 80 hours per month or 720 hours per year, so the working hours tend to be longer than in other countries.

The legal system is moving toward promoting Side Jobs. Still, considering the practicalities of working hours and health management, it is understandable that many companies are not ready to lift the ban on Side Jobs.

Changes in the number of people engaged in Side Jobs

United States

As of 2017, there were approximately 7.54 million people engaged in Side Jobs, which is about 4.9% of the workforce, indicating that the percentage of the workforce is not that high.

The percentage has declined since its peak of about 7% in the 1990s.

However, according to "Freelance Forward 2020," a survey conducted by Upwork, a U.S. crowdsourcing site, in 2020

However, according to "Freelance Forward 2020," a study by Upwork, a crowdsourcing site in the U.S., in 2020, there will be approximately 59 million freelancers who do not belong to any particular company. Of these, about 38 million will be working on the side or as non-full-time freelancers.

It is about 23% of the working population, so freelance spot work is very prevalent, if not a side business.

It was surprising that few people engaged in Side Jobs for a legal system that makes it easy to do Side Jobs. Still, the data from the Upwork survey shows that 75% of workers who switched from being employed to freelancing increased their income.

It may be because it is becoming easier to earn an income through freelancing.

Freelance Forward 2020

(Quote: Upwork, "Freelance Forward 2020")


the United Kingdom

As of 2016, approximately 1.12 million people were engaged in second jobs, accounting for 3.9% of the workforce. Like the U.S., the number of second jobs in the U.K. has declined since peaking at approximately 5% in the 1990s.

Freelancers also account for about 4% of the total workforce, which is very low compared to the U.S.

The fact that the median income of freelancers is not high, at 375 pounds, makes it a challenging environment for second jobs, and second jobs are not very common in the U.K.


As of 2017, the number of people engaged in second jobs is estimated to be about 3.08 million. 

Their workforce share is about 9.3%, which tends to be higher than in other countries.

In 2003, when mini-jobs were institutionalized, about 1.2 million. Still, the number has increased rapidly from there by about 2.5 times.

It is challenging to improve skills and earn a significant income from working hour management.

However, with the spread of crowdsourcing nowadays, people engaging in Side Jobs will increase.

It is an excellent example of how the legal system will significantly impact Side Jobs in the future.

Southeast Asia(Vietnam)

About 5-60% of the working population is engaged in Side Jobs in Vietnam.

According to a survey by Q&Me, a research company in Vietnam, a whopping 70% of workers answered that they regularly engage in Side Jobs.

Unlike other countries, Vietnam has a strong recognition of workers' rights, making it a unique example of where Side Jobs have taken root culturally.

Asia (Japan)

The number of people engaged in Side Jobs in 2017 was about 2.68 million, accounting for about 4% of the workforce.

It is about the same level as in the U.K.

According to a Recruit Career Co., Ltd. survey, about 9.8% of employees have a second job. Second jobs will continue to spread at an accelerated rate.

Merits and demerits of Side Jobs

So far, I have learned that there are various interpretations of Side Jobs in different countries.

Also, in countries where it is legally easier to do Side Jobs, there is a strong need for Side Jobs among workers due to the many people who work Side Jobs.

For companies


  • By having workers improve their skills outside of the company, there is a possibility that they will be able to reduce their training costs and return the profits to the company.
  • By lifting the ban on Side Jobs, companies can secure talented workers who cannot be obtained as regular employees/prevent the outflow of their employees.
  • It increased worker autonomy.


  • It is necessary to pay attention to workers' working hours and health management.
  • Need to manage risks such as confidentiality and prevention of competition

For workers


  • Acquire skills that are different from their primary job without leaving their jobs
  • Increase in income
  • Because they can maintain the income from their primary job, they can develop their career with less risk.


  • The total working hours tend to be longer, so paying attention to health management is necessary.
  • It is necessary to keep in mind the risk of leaking confidential information or causing competition.

Summary - What will be the future of Side Jobs?

To summarize the information so far.

  • The need for Side Jobs among domestic workers is rapidly increasing.
  • There are no notable disadvantages for workers.

Therefore, in promoting Side Jobs, many issues need to be resolved, such as:

  • The tendency to work long hours.
  • The socially accepted idea is to concentrate on one's main job.
  • The complexity of management.

However, suppose the trend of allowing Side Jobs accelerates in the future. 

In that case, the nature of companies will change, such as companies that are formed only by employees with Side Jobs or companies with a mixture of various employment forms such as full-time employees, outsourced workers, and part-time workers.