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How to Earn More as a UK Nurse without Being in Trouble

With the rising costs of energy bills, food, fuel and other commodities, the average pay for nurses doesn't seem enough to cover the dramatic price increase of almost everything! The Bank of England forewarns everyone that the inflation rate can reach 10% by the end of the year.

Even if you tighten your belt with your spending, earning extra money can ease the burden of the high cost of living in the United Kingdom. Aside from taking extra shifts, are there any other side hustles you can do to earn more? What do you need to watch out for to maximise your earnings, and if you're on a work visa, how can you not jeopardise your current employment?


Taking extra shifts and agency work

Overtime, bank shifts and agency work are great ways to boost your income in your substantive post. The rates are dependent on each hospital or Trust and sometimes negotiable, depending on your skill set and what you can offer them. We have gathered views from a few nurses on how they earn extra on the side.

Nurse 1 works as a full-time nurse in an NHS Trust and says that her Trust offers an overtime rate of 1.5 of her hourly rate. So if she worked a 10-hour shift, she would be paid 15 hours x her hourly rate. If it is last minute booking, sometimes they can offer up to double pay.

Nurse 2 works as a full-time nurse in the countryside, but he mentions that his Trust only offers bank shifts at a regular rate. Hence, he chooses to book shifts on nights or weekends, so there would be an enhancement ( 30% nights and Saturday, 60% Sunday and Bank Holiday).

Meanwhile, Nurse 3, who works as a Band 6 in an NHS Trust in London, confirms that his daily bank rate is £26 per hour on regular days with an enhanced rate on weekends and bank holidays. Please note that if you book a shift as a Band 5, your rates may be lower.

Nurse 4 works as a part-time nurse in an NHS Trust and takes regular bank shifts in a private hospital every weekend. She negotiated her rate with the manager and agreed to a £33 an hour rate as a weekend rate.

Nurse 5 is a full-time agency nurse whose hourly rate depends on the hospital she works in. She says she gets paid around £32 to £40 hourly rate. She describes her salary as erratic as some months have less work and others are very busy. She also mentions that although her net pay out-earns her previous NHS salary, she also lost benefits as an employee, i.e. sick pay, paid annual leave or pension. Hence, she's very strict on budgeting her expenses and has saved an emergency fund for six months as she's on a no-work-no-pay basis and pays a lot for different insurance (life, critical illness, accident and income protection) as well. She said that she could manage this lack of benefits as she enjoys the flexibility of booking shifts and taking days off whenever she wants to.

NHS Professional is another option if you want to work in another NHS Trust with a zero-hours contract. You will be treated as a pooled "bank staff", and you can book your shifts as and when you want to. Similar to Nurse 2, the hourly rate varies depending on your band and does not differ much from the Agenda for Change (AFC) payscale. So it might also be worth booking NHSP shifts with enhancements. The advantage of joining NHSP is you get the priority to be booked over the agency nurses.



Side hustles you can do


Aside from working extra hours as a nurse, why not earn extra doing what you love and make money with your hobby or learn a new skill that you've been itching to do and charge other people once you have gained the aptitude or qualification?

I have known and met nurses who have nailed their side hustles and made substantial earnings. You can do side businesses like photography, writing, baking cakes and pastries, and cooking Filipino delicacies.

Some have ventured to become a Youtuber and content creators to share their knowledge and skills or just for entertainment that is truly relatable to nurses. You can also try real estate sales with the large condominium developers in the Philippines, which can earn you a commission once you have sold a property to someone. Or you may want to level up and become a property investor in the UK by renting it out or flipping houses.

Others have studied and qualified to be financial advisors who advise individuals about the right insurance product for them. They can also choose to be mortgage advisors if they want to progress, and both offer commissions once their client agrees to get a product on their behalf.

Remember that you may have to reach a target with sales, which means you have to be persistent and diligent in finding clients to secure a deal with them. Otherwise, word of mouth can go a long way if you have helped clients and they found you trustworthy and helpful. So craft your skills and be a good communicator; clients will just come to you without looking for them.

Having a good amount of capital, some have started their own business by opening restaurants, money remittance services and nursing agencies supplying nurses to private and NHS settings. Like other businesses, this is associated with having a limited company, filing accounts and paying corporation tax, to name a few.



Things to consider with extra work and side hustles


European working time directive


The European Working Time Directive is legislation set to limit a person to working only 48 hours per week with a continuous 11 hours maximum of 24 hours. This means that legally, your employer can't force you to work more than 48 hours in a week even if this is a bank or overtime shift. If you want to work more than 48 hours/week, you must sign a waiver usually provided by the agency or the Bank office of a Trust so you can opt out with the 48-hour limit.


Tier 2 visa restrictions


If you're on Tier 2 or working visa, there are some restrictions that you have to be mindful of before taking any extra work. Understanding your contract before earning on top of your salary from employment can get you out of trouble.

You can take additional employment up to 20 hours per week as long as you are doing the same occupation that you were sponsored or on the shortage occupation list. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government temporarily scrapped this restriction, so currently, there's no limit to the number of hours you can work on your second job as an NHS nurse.

Watch out for any changes as this rule may revert to what it used to be. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa/second-job.


Tax implications


Will you be taxed more if you have a second job? I have heard from many nurses that they wouldn't want to work too much because their hard-earned money will go into their taxes. Remember that taxes are calculated in percentage, so your tax is relative to what you will earn. Although you will pay more tax if you make more from multiple incomes, you will still be taxed the same way on your earnings under one job.

Typically, you will have a tax-free personal allowance. Let's say it's 1250L, which means £12,500 of your annual earnings is tax-free and it's all yours. After that, your gains from £12,571 to £50,270 are taxed at a basic rate of 20%. The 40% tax rate applies only to your earnings from £50,271 to £150,000.

So contrary to some comments, if you earn more than £50K, your full salary will be taxed 40%. Remember that the 40% rate only applies to your earnings beyond £50,270, not the total earnings. If you want to calculate the Income tax and National insurance you have to pay, this take-home pay calculator is really helpful.


Most importantly, don't neglect yourself and be a savvy spender.


Earning more means having more flexibility to achieve the lifestyle we want, and less financial worries is a great way to live a fuller life. However, don't overwork yourself at the expense of your health, well-being and relationships. Know when to stop and recharge to avoid burnout. Prioritise your nutrition, sleep, exercise and make time for the people around you that make your life meaningful.

Working harder is excellent, but you should also know how to make your money work for you. After building up your savings, ensure you have enough money for an emergency fund, educate yourself on managing your finances, learn to invest, budget accordingly, be a mindful spender, and start preparing for your retirement as early as possible. Ultimately, finding the right balance between working and enjoying life is crucial so you can function to your fullest potential as a nurse and focus on things that really matter to you.



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