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Moonlighting and how are we to look at it

Moonlighting and how are we to look at it

With the recent happenings in the corporate world, many industry giants have fired people in large numbers due to indulging in moonlighting. Let us understand what this moonlighting is and why are these top-notch companies firing employees who are moonlighting.

Moonlighting as we understand is working a second job or multiple other projects apart from one’s primary job. These second jobs or other projects are usually hidden from the employer in their full-time company.  There are many companies that oppose this practice as they believe that it decreases the productivity of the employee.

This topic is now highly debatable. On one side we have companies like Wipro that has recently sacked about 300 employees engaging in moonlighting practice, while other companies like TATA Consulting Services called it an ethical issue. On the other hand, we have companies like Tech Mahindra that claims to be open to the practice if it helps employees make extra money.

In US, unless you work a job that requires you to be on duty 24/7, the employer cannot terminate you, except in the below situations:

  • If the second job poses a conflict of interest with your current employer—If you go to work for a company that competes with your current employer, or if you set up your own business doing essentially the same thing you’re doing for your employer, it’s likely you’ll either face termination or be asked to cease and desist the competing activities.
  • If you use company resources or property for another job— If you use your employer provided computer or internet service for other gainful employment, you can be subject to termination.
  • If the second job leads to diminished productivity or performance on your other job— Even when you outperform many of your co-workers, your employer may expect or need you to perform at optimum level.

Indian laws have nothing stated against moonlighting practice or prevents dual-employment. No provision in Indian employment laws defines moonlighting.

One of the major concerns expressed by the companies is breaching of confidentiality. If an employee is moonlighting in a related field, they may have the chance to share trade secrets. Employees must be aware of the value of protecting information that may be useful to a rival company. Long hours at a second job might lead to an employee’s physical exhaustion, distraction from their primary duties, and disregard of their duties at work.

Earlier, Swiggy established an “industry first” strategy that let its staff to work several jobs. “Any project or activity that is taken up outside office hours or on the weekend, without affecting productivity, and does not have a conflict of interest, can be picked up by the employees,” they added.

According to the former director of Infosys, Mohandas Pai, low entry-level salaries in the tech industry have contributed to moonlighting. Many people say that if companies ensure good pay and steady career development, in ways that motivate and enrich workers, they might not seek out other jobs. However, due to low-paying technical jobs, lesser job satisfaction can lead to more employees indulging in moonlighting.

Employees in their free time can take up freelancing jobs like conducting interviews and mentoring fresh graduates which would neither cause a conflict of interest nor take away time from their primary job and in turn serve the community by mentoring the candidates to achieve more and check their points for development. This would not only help them hone their own skills but also help them monetarily.

No matter how many different perspectives we are to use to look at this situation, this debate is always going to be unresolved, and employees need to stagger through the process if they would like to practice moonlighting.


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