Outside Employment and Secondary Contracts Policy

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Legal terms and policies

Reading time approx: 8 minutes
Published on 29 March 2022

1.0 Strategy

The organisation recognises that employees’ activities during off-duty hours, within reason, are their personal concern.  It is the policy of the organisation to permit employees to engage in outside employment, which is defined as ‘any work, trade, business or profession’, provided no actual or potential conflict of interest or appearance of such conflict exists.  Employees must avoid any outside employment activities that have the potential to bring the organisation into disrepute.

2.0 Purpose

The organisation has a duty, under regulation 6 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to ensure employees are provided with appropriate health surveillance.  Employees should consider the possible impact that the nature of their outside employment may have on their overall personal health and effectiveness while carrying out their role within the organisation.  The organisation expects all employees to maintain the required level of performance and will not make exceptions for employees who are engaged in outside employment.

This policy outlines the guidance to be followed by line managers and the responsibility of the employees who undertake outside employment, including being self-employed.

​​​​​​​​This policy applies to all employees of West Midlands Fire Service.


3.0 Responsibility

3.1 Notification of intention to undertake outside employment

Within Oracle there is a facility for employees to register that they intend to undertake outside employment.  Once this intention has been registered by the employee, it will trigger a notification to the employee’s line manager of their intentions.  The line manager will then invite the employee for a discussion guided by the outside employment checklist on Oracle and in to ensure the employee is aware of their responsibilities to the organisation and for their own safety and wellbeing when carrying out their outside employment.  The manager must discuss each statement with the employee and ensure each statement has been understood.  The manager and the employee will then update information on Oracle​​​​​​​ to confirm the discussion has taken place.  In certain circumstances, if the manager has concerns about the nature of the outside employment, that is, it conflicts with the guidance stated above, then support for the employee to engage in that particular employment will not be given.  Another reason could be that the manager has identified health and safety risks. The manager must discuss their concerns with the employee and remind them of their responsibilities to the organisation and their own wellbeing.  There is a section within the system for the manager to make notes about these discussions and what advice or guidance they have given to the employee.  Guidance should be sought from People Support Services in these circumstances, if there is any doubt.

3.2 Supervision and compliance

Officers in charge and section heads have a responsibility in terms of an employee’s ability to undertake their duties.  Where an employee’s ability to perform these duties is impaired for whatever reason, this must be brought to the attention of the station commander or department manager and should be managed through the relevant processes.

4.0 Procedures

Outside employment will not be undertaken during normal working hours (that is, during duty periods in respect of uniformed employees), or on the Service’s premises or using the Service’s facilities. This includes the use of vehicles, telephones, fax and computer facilities (including e-mail).

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (amended 2007) state there should be an 11-hour break between periods of work.  It is an employee’s duty to ensure that he or she is fit for duty when attending work.  This duty includes ensuring that appropriate and adequate rest has taken place, in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements.  Light Goods Vehicle (LGV) drivers should also familiarise themselves with driving hours and rest period regulations.

Employees must not carry out their outside employment whilst on sick leave from WMFS unless special permission has been given by the Service.  It is recognised that employees who are self-employed will have legal requirements to administer their business, however, if permission is granted to carry out outside employment whilst on sick leave, the individual should not work any more hours than they would normally do in their outside employment. 

Outside employment will not take precedence over any requirement to work casual overtime or detached duties.  Additionally, employees will not be released early from duty to undertake any outside employment.

Outside employment must not have a direct or indirect connection with any matters in which the West Midlands Fire Service have statutory responsibilities (for example, work associated with the Authority’s contractual obligations, requirements imposed under fire safety legislation, and so on).  Additionally, such employment must not conflict with the Authority’s interest or Core Values, or in any way weaken public confidence in the conduct of the Authority’s business.  Employees must ensure that the organisation is not exposed to legal claims as a result of the outside employment.

Outside employment is not to be carried out for any person, firm or company which the Fire Service deals with during official duties.  Should the outside employer or contractor become such a person, firm or company, the employee must terminate their outside employment immediately.

Individuals are responsible for notifying the Service of their outside employment activity.  Where WMFS employees employ other WMFS employees for the purpose of outside employment, separate notifications must be made by the employees concerned.  This must not prejudice their working relationship within the West Midlands Fire Service.  If a conflict arises between employees, as a result of their outside working relationship, it will be managed through the relevant process.

  • Vehicles having identification for use in connection with outside employment will not be permitted to park on Fire Service premises.
  • No article of Fire Service uniform or equipment may be worn or used for any purpose associated with outside employment.
  • Employees of the Service must not tout, nor advertise for business, using the name of the West Midlands Fire Service, their role within the organisation or use the Fire Service in connection with outside employment.

Although it is considered outside employment, some conditions differ for employees who are members of or make up the Volunteer Reserve Forces.  See Policy Armed Forces

Employees in politically restricted posts (PORPS) must not undertake outside employment that will conflict with their role within the organisation, for example, as a Councillor either within or outside the West Midlands area.  Please refer to Policy Restrictions on Political Activities for more information. 

​​​​​​​Failure to comply with any of the above may result in disciplinary action.

This policy links to our ‘Employee Conduct in the Political Environment Policy’ and ‘Armed Forces Policy’ which are not listed on our website, but can be made available on request via contact@wmfs.net


4.1 Appeal against refusal

When an application for outside employment has been refused by the line manager, an appeal against the decision may be made to the senior manager, for example, if a station commander has made the refusal the next stage would be the operations commander or equivalent, on Oracle​​​​​​​, stating the grounds for the appeal.  This appeal must be made within 7 days of receipt of refusal.

Arrangements will be made for the employee to discuss their appeal with their senior manager.  This meeting should take place and a decision made within 14 days.  Employees will be informed of their appeal outcome with a face to face meeting and followed by a letter.

​​​​​​​The decision of the senior manager is final.

4.2 Secondary contracts within West Midlands Fire Service

There are certain roles and activities within the organisation that are Secondary Contracts of Employment these include Recruitment Awareness Advisors, Fire Project and Youth Inclusion Work.  Employees of the organisation who are employed in one of these roles, in addition to their primary role, are still subject to the same conditions and notifications set out in Section 2 and Section 3.

4.3 Retained firefighting duties

Hours of duty must be worked within the rules set out in the Working Time Regulations and the Health and Safety at Work Regulations.  A minimum of an 11-hour break should be taken between shifts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the employee, their colleagues and the community of the West Midlands.

4.4 Special constable duties

Firefighters employed on either retained or whole-time duty systems who seek to work as special constables are eligible to do so.  Special constables are not deemed to be members of the ‘police force’ and are not covered by the definition in section of 101 of the Police Act 1996.  Hours of duty must be worked within the rules set out in the Working Time Regulations and the Health and Safety at Work Regulations.  A minimum of an 11-hour break should be taken between shifts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the employee, their colleagues and the community of the West Midlands.

4.5 Sickness or injury relating to secondary and outside employment

4.5.1 Sick pay and reporting of sickness or injury

In the event of injury or illness directly attributable to outside employment, the Fire Authority will not pay for any absence from duty or sick leave caused by outside employment.  If it becomes apparent that an employee’s sickness absence is a direct result of their outside employment (non-West Midlands Fire Service related), they will be required to reimburse any sick pay that the organisation has already paid to them during that absence.

Any injury, illness or medical condition sustained during such off-duty employment or any exposure to hazardous substances whilst carrying out outside employment must be reported in the first instance to the line manager and then to People Support Services, through the normal channels on Form M1, as soon as possible.  Failure to report such injuries, illnesses or medical condition will be regarded as a breach of the Attendance Management Policy, resulting in a disciplinary matter.

The attendance management policy is not listed on our website, but can be made available on request via contact@wmfs.net. The Disciplinary Procedure referenced can be accessed on our website.

4.5.2 Pension

Secondary employment within the Fire Service may attract membership of the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme or Local Government Pension Scheme and be covered by the respective injury schemes, however, check with terms and conditions of the secondary employment contract for confirmation of the applicable schemes.

Uniformed employees injured whilst carrying out outside or secondary employment will not be entitled to receive the qualifying injury award under the Firefighters Compensation Scheme (FCS) that covers their primary employment.

​​​​​​​In respect of secondary employment within the Fire Service, as a general principle any injury award follows the contract under which a qualifying injury was received.

The situation in respect of pension scheme membership and injury benefits for secondary employments may be complex.  In this respect, employees may wish to contact the Pensions Section for further clarification.

See Terms and Conditions for Secondary Employments​ for more information.

4.5.3 Insurance cover

It is strongly recommended that employees who undertake outside employment ensure that adequate insurance cover exists and should enquire of their outside employer as to their insurance arrangements and consider the implications.


Appendix 1 – Outside and Secondary Employment Checklist

Managers please read through each statement with the employee, prior to a decision being made.

  1. A minimum of an 11-hour break should be taken between hours of work with West Midlands Fire Service and hours of work with the outside employment.  Neglecting to take suitable breaks may impact on performance in role with West Midlands Fire Service and, in some cases, may result in the capability procedure being implemented.
  2. Outside or secondary employment must not be carried out whilst on sick leave unless special permission has been granted by the line manager If permission is granted, no more than the originally agreed hours carried out in the outside employment should be worked.  If more hours are worked, this may result in disciplinary action being taken.
  3. The nature of the outside employment must not have a direct or indirect connection with any matters in which the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority have statutory responsibilities.
  4. Outside employment must not be carried out for any person, firm, company or contractor which the Fire Service deals with during the course of official duties.
  5. No building, vehicle, equipment, uniform or the West Midlands Fire Service brand may be used in connection with outside employment.
  6. A private insurance policy for death, injury or sickness in connection with outside employment is strongly advised, if the outside employer does not have adequate cover.
  7. If permanently incapacitated through injury due to outside employment, the Qualifying Injury Award will not be awarded. 

Appendix 2 – Terms and Conditions for Secondary Employments

A table showing terms and conditions and the type of work, insurance or conditions that may apply to secondary employment depending on the individuals role and shifts.

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