Employment Doubledown
July 29, 2012 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Are there issues with working two half time jobs as opposed to one full time job that I should be aware of?

Employment arrangement is changing; very likely going to be working two half time jobs at separate institutions. Aside from the scheduling and benefits issues, are there any other issues I should be thinking about? Are there significant tax implications (or opportunities) with something like this? Both are w-2 positions.

Thanks in advance.
posted by jimmysmits to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Your withholding will skew too little, as each place will withhold based on the part-time money, versus the full time. You may owe taxes, or your refund will be smaller.

If you make a lot per hour, you may hit the max witholding for Social Security (you'd have to be in the $100,000 per year arena for this to kick in.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:39 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

With regards to taxes, something to watch out for is that each employer will deduct tax withholding from your paychecks as if they were your only employer. It's likely that this withholding will be inadequate for the combined income from two jobs, and as a consequence you probably end up with a tax bill come tax time. You might consider filling out Form W-4 with a smaller number of allowances than normal, so you aren't caught by surprise at tax time.
posted by RichardP at 3:41 PM on July 29, 2012

If you work both jobs in one day, you can get a tax deduction for miles travelled from job to job. Track this so you can report it come tax time.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:47 PM on July 29, 2012

Also with scheduling, think about mandatory work days. I once had 2 jobs that wanted me to work on Thanksgiving.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:47 PM on July 29, 2012

Will either job give you the health insurance benefits that a full-time job usually gives?
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:48 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

It can be very tiring. You are starting up and finishing your day twice a day. When I was doing it, my second job definitely suffered - I just couldn't muster the energy to be 100% present when starting my day all over again.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:53 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that it can be tiring in a different way than a full-time job.
posted by trillian at 4:01 PM on July 29, 2012

I know you said aside from scheduling, but to be clear, part time jobs often start out telling you that they're flexible or that they understand. However, one or both jobs may have an attitude that they should be more important than your other job. One or both may refuse to give you a set schedule, may require that you ask for your days off each week, and may deny those requests., requiring you to "get your shifts covered" or face penalties (since you don't specify your industry, this is particularly common in food service, call centers, and retail.) The constant fear that you may lose your job because your bonehead boss can't fill you in for Monday mornings, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and every other Saturday and then work from there is crazy making.

Part time jobs often also try to wring full time amounts of work out of their PT employees. Be aware of this so that you don't think you're crazy.

Uniforms. Some jobs have uniforms. Even if it's not a red polo shirt and khakis, workplace dress codes may vary. You may or may not be able to wear the same thing from one job to another. Or, you may not want to because you may feel gross from, well, from a day of work. Either way, your up front clothes budget may double, and so might your laundry tasks.

Same with culture. Some level of friendliness is expected of coworkers, but that level may not be calibrated the same at each job. Switching between can be a pain and extra draining.
posted by bilabial at 4:25 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Your withholding will skew too little, as each place will withhold based on the part-time money, versus the full time. You may owe taxes, or your refund will be smaller.

Note, though, that this doesn't mean your actual tax burden will increase.

Normally, you pay all your taxes ahead of time, through withholding, and get a refund at the end of the year if you had too much withheld. If you're working two part-time jobs, but earning the same amount, you'll owe the same amount of tax that you ever did — you'll just end up paying less of it through withholding, and so you'll have to make a payment at the end of the year to catch up.

If you're reasonably responsible about it, this is actually a very slightly better way to do things, since it means your money is earning interest for you rather than for the government. But it does mean you have to be responsible about it and set aside money during the year to cover the tax bill that will come at the end.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:36 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of the biggest drawbacks is when you work extra hours they are not paid at an overtime rate which many states would require if done for one employer.
posted by uncaken at 5:13 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

I second the pp assertion that sometimes pt jobs are really ft jobs without the funding. I did this for a year at 2 schools working running the libraries and I had to be really firm with both schools- if it couldn't happen during the time I was there then it wasn't possible to do it. It was hard navigating this personally because what didn't get done made my work harder. As soon as I could get one fulltime job I grabbed it!
posted by momochan at 5:57 PM on July 29, 2012

I worked two part-time jobs simultaneously (both white-collar, but very low-paying). Like bilabial and others have said, it really is a lot more exhausting than a full-time job. I was working 16 hours at one job and 20-25 hours at another job. They were about a 20 minute walk apart. I would work from 9am-1pm at the first job, walk to the second job, and begin at 1:30pm. Then I would work from 1:30-5:30pm four days a week. My day started at 8:30am with a walk to the first office, I never got a lunch break so I would try to eat a microwave burrito on my walk to the second job, and then my work day ended at 6:00pm after my walk home. It was effectively a 9 hour day every day and it often wound up being 10. I would also often have to go into my second job on the fifth day because I had more work to keep up with.

Both employers resented that I worked somewhere else (which they made clear through passive aggressive comments at group meetings about my "availability.") Both employers paid lip service to the fact that they knew I would not be able to afford, oh, rent or health insurance or groceries, if I didn't work two jobs, but neither was interested in scraping together the money to hire me full-time even as they wasted money on other areas. I finally resigned from both jobs and took a job that paid me more than both combined for few hours. Looking back, I still feel kind of exploited by both of those employers. They really did want to cram in a full-time position into a part-time position. One position flat out told me (I'm totally serious about this) that they actually had thought I understood (via telepathy I guess) that they wanted me to be at the office full-time even though they were only paying me for 16 hours. They had, in their words, "been spoiled rotten" by a previous employee who was married to a wealthy husband and just wanted experience working in an arts-related field, so they just thought I (unmarried, not wealthy) would also not mind working an extra 24 hours per week gratis.

Just be prepared for them to both expect you to be available a lot more than your scheduled hours and to not take your needs as an employee seriously. It is, in my opinion, an unsustainable situation. It might be what you have to do right now, but keep looking for a full-time position or get them to put in writing when they will bump you up to full-time.
posted by pinetree at 6:09 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've worked two part-time jobs for years. I love it. One requires creativity and problem solving, and the other is blessedly brain numbing. Working full time at either of these would drive me bananas, but part-time... Perfect balance.

(And like the others said, watch your taxes that first year!)
posted by unlapsing at 8:05 PM on July 29, 2012

Nthing the comments about your so-called schedule. Retail and restaurant jobs are notorious for under- or over-staffing shifts, and either sending you home from your scheduled shift because they aren't busy, or expecting you to stay late to cover someone else who called off their shift.

Also, some places hire a part-time person when they really need full-time help because they don't want to commit to paying you 40 hours a week; and they won't expect you to work extra hours gratis but they DO expect that you'll jump at the chance for extra paid hours. I took one job at a non-profit that was supposed to be 15 hours a week because I was going to school and that's all the hours I wanted, and my boss was constantly surprised and irritated that I did not want to stay after my shift to get more hours helping out in other departments. This happened almost daily.

Another thing that seems to only happen at part-time jobs: if they want to get rid of you, they won't fire you. They just start cutting your hours way back until you quit. This way they don't risk having to pay unemployment benefits.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:15 AM on July 30, 2012

It will depend on the kind of jobs this is about, but in some areas (education or academia for instance), there's always an amount of 'overhead' to take into account, which won't always be scaled back according to the number of hours you work: meetings you're expected to attend, conferences, team buidling, training, social stuff. YMMV, obviously.
posted by Ms. Next at 2:07 PM on July 30, 2012

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