Moonlighting in India - What, Why and Should of this HR nightmare

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While Moonlighting has been around for ages, it was Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji’s tweet on August 20 about Moonlighting, where he called it “cheating—plain and simple”, that lead to the recent uproar. His comment on Moonlighting ballooned into a fierce debate in not just IT industry but in larger corporate India. Should it allow its workforce to take up moonlighting in India or not? Given the sensitive nature of this topic on Moonlighting, and its impact on both corporates and employees, MBAUnivese.com believes that Moonlighting will be a hot topic for GD PI WAT for MBA Admissions, and other managerial and technical jobs. Read this article carefully to know What, Why, How and Should of this HR nightmare!  

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What is Moonlighting?
But what is moonlighting? Let’s look at the dictionary to find out. Cambridge Dictionary defines moonlighting as “the act of working at an extra job, especially without telling your main employer”.

 

It is said that Flipkart was founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal while they were working for Amazon. Freshdesk [now Freshworks] was founded by Girish Mathrubootham while he was working for Zoho. A large number of start-ups in India were born while their founders were working full-time at another firm.

 

The practice of moonlighting is not limited to IT services firms alone; almost every knowledge- and services-based industry has moonlighting going on in some degree. Gig work portals are brimming with listings for creative work such as design, writing and translation. Even non-creative service-based roles such as HR, finance, sales and marketing, legal skills and education sector are in demand on these sites.  

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Those Against Moonlighting
Is moonlighting ethical? IT leaders are mostly critical of moonlighting and find it at least unethcical. Here are some examples:

  • Wipro has since said that Wipro fired 300 employees found moonlighting for competitors.
  • TCS COO N. Ganapathy Subramaniam sees it as a long-term loss to the industry, while TCS CHRO Milind Lakkad has called it an ethical issue.
  • IBM India MD Sandip Patel finds dual employment “not ethically right”.
  • Infosys had warned that employees caught moonlighting will be fired as it is unethical to take up a second job ‘during or after work hours’. However, it took a U turn a few days later.
  • RPG Enterprises Chairman Harsh Goenka said “If the customer finds even a remote chance of data compromise, it will not be tolerated.”

Those For Moonlighting
Apart from the employees and corporate executives, Moonlighting has its proponents amongst some IT veterans. Here are some examples:

  • Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics & Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said, “Efforts of companies to pin their employees down are doomed to fail”.
  • Tech Mahindra MD & CEO C.P. Gurnani is supportive of the idea and has said he would introduce policies to enable employees to be more open about it.

Disadvantages of Moonlighting for Corporate India
Corporate experts point out to several disadvantages of Moonlighting for Corporate India, such as:

  • Division of time, effort and attention of employee from company priorities to individual projects
  • Drop in employee engagement
  • Misuse of confidential data and the breach of contracts IT services firms have with their clients
  • Use of organizational resources for personal gains.

Advantages/Benefits of Moonlighting for Employee
Why would someone risk their primary job and health for moonlighting? Key reasons for Moonlighting due to which Employees resort to it, are several benefits attached to it. Employees may resort to different Types of moonlighting to reap benefits such as

  • Ability to earn extra income
  • Opportunity to improve skills while working on projects in different sectors
  • Opportunity to pursue a hobby or a passion

Law on Moonlighting: Is Moonlighting Legal or Illegal?
Is Moonlighting Legal or Illegal? According to legal experts, there are no law currently in place that prohibits dual employment in India other than the Factories Act, which mostly exempts the IT sector. But to understand, is Moonlighting Legal or Illegal, experts say that it is a fact that any legally allowed clauses an employee has agreed to by signing an employment contract are legally binding on them. 

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Infosys makes a U turn: Permits employees to take up gig work with prior consent from managers
Amid heated debate over moonlighting, Infosys has allowed its employees to take up job opportunities outside the company with the prior consent of their managers and HR on Thursday. In an email, the software services exporter said: "Any employee, who wishes to take up gig work, may do so, with the prior consent of their manager and BP-HR, and in their personal time, for establishments that do not compete with Infosys or Infosys' clients." With this move, Infosys has become the first major IT company to allow its employees to take up gig work. The decision comes amid ongoing debates around moonlighting - a term to describe employees who take up a second job while being on the payroll of another firm - and employee rights in not just the IT industry but also in other professional work domains.

 

Clear a lot of developments will happen in this space in coming months. We will continue to update this article. Given the sensitive nature of this topic, and its impact on both corporates and employees, MBAUnivese.com believes that Moonlighting will be a hot topic for GD PI WAT for MBA Admissions. 

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