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Moonlighting on the rise – Why Corporate houses are not happy with it?

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What is moonlighting?

Moonlighting often refers to doing a second job in addition to your regular position. Moonlighting, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is “the act of working at an additional job, especially without disclosing your main employment.”

Since Infosys essentially outlawed the practice, moonlighting has drawn a lot of attention, as is the case. Information technology company Infosys reportedly handed out warnings to its staff with the tag lines “No two-timing, no moonlighting,” and “No double lives” weeks after Wipro’s Chairman Rishad Premji called moonlighting a case of “cheating.”

These secondary jobs are often taken up without the knowledge of the employers. Usually, weekend or evening work is obtained on the side. IT companies are concerned that “moonlighting” could reduce productivity, cause conflicts of interest, and maybe result in data breaches.

From a legal standpoint, according to the Factories Act, dual employment is not permitted in India. However, IT companies are excluded from that law in several states. Before taking on numerous jobs, people should thoroughly review their employment contracts.

Why is ‘moonlighting’ out in the light?

The work-from-home (WFH) concept is credited with popularising moonlighting among white-collar workers in India. It has also raised questions about corporate compliance.

However, a few businesses, like Swiggy, are authoritatively allowing their employees to moonlight under certain circumstances. Many organizations would rather not allow their employees to take on additional jobs.

Recently, Swiggy established its “moonlighting policy.” “This could involve work beyond the office hours or on weekends that does not impair their productivity on the full-time job or cause a conflict of interest with Swiggy’s operations in any manner,” the company said in a statement while announcing the policy.  The situation is also being exacerbated by new crowdsourcing platforms like Topcoder, which employ IT specialists to deliver project-based services on a temporary basis.

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The debate around this trend 

According to experts, discussions on workplace cultures like quiet quitting, moonlighting, and other such topics will continue. The corporate world is undoubtedly changing, especially with the heightened discussions about work and life, as a result of the various ways in which businesses are responding to them.

CEOs of top companies have stated that moonlighting has found its way into the corporate world to such an extent that 40% of the employees do not hesitate to reject a job offer if they are not permitted to take up a second job along with it.  Even though moonlighting has not been elaborated upon from a legal stance, it is expected that companies and corporates are going to take this seriously and emerge with well-formulated policies to tackle the situation. So it might be a good idea to give your employment contract a good read, the next time!

However, moonlighting is not an fresh phenomenon, despite its increasing popularity. It has existed in a variety of forms and probably will do so in the future. Many consultants work part-time jobs before becoming fully independent, teachers work part-time jobs by giving lessons, and many employees have side businesses or side hustles. Startups like Flipkart and Freshworks were founded by founders who also worked as part-time employees.

Global technology giant IBM has made it very clear that the practice of dual employment is unethical and that the company does not encourage such behavior at the workplace amid the ongoing discussion of “moonlighting” in India.

Moonlighting is not tolerated, according to Infosys, the second-largest IT services provider in India, and any contract violations will result in disciplinary action “which could possibly lead to termination of employment.”

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Conclusion 

Despite the fact that this is not a novel concept and employees have been engaging in it for years now, things are coming to light recently owing to the many legal and technical complexities involved with employees dividing their time between different employers.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic did hit all of us in inexplicable ways which also led to losing jobs and livelihood with no certainty. The Indian economy and the legal system must have a holistic approach towards this which will not be possible without the cooperation and support of all multinationals and firms taking a stance.

 

Aliya Hussain
Aliya Hussain
Aliya Hussain - an aspiring lawyer, and an avid reader, loves to write & journal and enjoys a game of squash as her hobby.

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