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Moonlighting: Why do employees do it? Why do companies oppose it?

Most IT majors of late have come out strongly against moonlighting, with a few admitting they’ve fired employees who turned out to be taking on side jobs.

Moonlighting refers to the practice of working an extra job, or two, outside of a person’s main job. Although there is no legal definition of “moonlighting” in India, US Legal defines it as “a term used to refer to working in a second job outside normal working hours”.

The trend to take on extra work has intensified after the Covid-19-induced lockdown forced companies to switch to working from home. Remote work makes it easier for people to juggle two or more jobs. A recent investigation by Mint showed that a large number of people (64%) believe moonlighting is ethical, while 12% said “I can’t say”.

Why do people work in the moonlight?

While extra income is always tempting, it’s not the only reason people look for other job opportunities. Some do it out of passion, others out of boredom.

A simple Google search will reveal that there are many small businesses and start-ups that offer part-time work opportunities. Easy access to job vacancies through job portals and online tests/interviews has made it extremely easy for people to take on additional jobs.

First of all. Money Matters! Extra income is always a tempting reason to look for an extra gig. There have been job cuts and pay cuts as a result of the pandemic, which has put financial burdens on people. There was also the fear of losing jobs. People got away to pay off their debts or just to earn more.

There is also the desire to follow his passion without giving up the main source of income. An IT professional can also be a good musician, writer, or good at things that have nothing to do with coding, programs, testing, etc. Overtime, which was a luxury before working from home became the norm, gave them time to pursue things they had always been passionate about. Flexible working hours made it easier for people to split their time between gigs. Entrepreneurial aspirations may also push to work on additional projects.

Extra work is also an opportunity to learn. Job security may require a person to stay in their current workplace, but employees are also looking for learning and development opportunities. A LinkedIn study in 2018 found that “employees who spend time learning at work are 47% less likely to be stressed and 39% more likely to feel productive and successful.” Lack of learning opportunities and reduced levels of job satisfaction at their current workplace can force a person to change jobs or seek part-time jobs that offer opportunities to learn and put update their skills.

Legal implications

India does not have a general law to prevent IT employees from taking on second jobs. Section 60 of the Factories Act 1948 is an archaic law which says: “No adult worker shall be compelled or permitted to work in a factory on a day when he has previously worked in another factory, except in circumstances which may be prescribed.”

India has a Shops and Establishments Act for each state. Of these, the Delhi Shops and Establishments Act 1954 and the Bombay Shops and Establishments Act prohibit duplication. There are also the Central Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules 1946, which state that employees must not work against the interests of the establishment with which they work or take up additional employment in a second company which would harm the interests of his first employer.

However, none of these laws apply particularly to the IT sector. IT companies may have clauses in their contract for employees against taking another job. Engaging in side business, especially with a competing business, may constitute a breach of contract.

Why companies are unhappy?

Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji, Infosys CEO Salil Parekh, HCL HR Director Ramachandran Sundararajan and TCS HR Director Milind Lakkad have hardened their stance against moonlighting in recent days.

Premji revealed that nearly 300 employees of the company were made redundant as they chose to take second jobs with rival companies while employed by Wipro. He called moonlighting “cheating – plain and simple”.

Infosys also admitted that the company has fired people found undeclared. “We do not support duplication…if we found…in the past, an employee doing egregious work at two specific companies where there is a confidentiality issue, we let them go within the last 12 months “, said Parekh. said.

HCL Technologies also echoed similar sentiments, saying the company does not support duplication. “Duplicate employment while working for HCL Tech…we do not condone this. Everyone who signs up to work for HCL Tech signs an employment contract that requires exclusivity. Confidentiality and confidentiality requirements non-competition…all those provisions there, we expect our employees to honor those commitments,” Sundararajan said.

Companies fear that the distribution of time between two jobs will affect the quality of employment and the productivity of their employees. It is also possible that stress levels are higher when there are two deadlines to meet rather than one, which will result in reduced or lower quality output. Fatigue is another side effect of secondary restlessness, leading to distraction and possibly neglect.

Employers also worry about data and privacy breaches, especially if working with a direct competitor. There’s also the fear that people will use company resources for their second gig.