Moonlighting or commonly known as doing dual jobs derived its origin from American terminology when employees looked for a second job at night hours after completing their full-time jobs in order to supplement their income. Employees started moonlighting in numbers after the Covid-19 pandemic, as they had the privilege to take up more work while working remotely.
Although it’s not a new concept, currently there is a lot of debate around the practice of moonlighting. Companies like Swiggy and Zomato allowed it, whereas Infosys, India’s 2nd largest IT services company called it off as double-crossing an organization. Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji aversed this new fashion was ‘pure cheating’ by firing 300 employees who worked for rival companies while being under the Wipro payroll.
So is moonlighting really cheating or is it unfair to not allow employees to pick up a second job for reasons better known to them, how do we arrive at a middle ground over this debate?
Read on to understand what companies and business experts have to say about moonlighting, why employees do it, what the laws state about it, and to gain a better perspective around it.
Why do employees moonlight?
Moonlighting by employees is a consequence of unhappiness with the work, salaries, or most importantly they are unable to align themselves with the company’s work culture or policies. Such scenarios arise because there is a decline in communication at the management level. There is a gap in understanding the needs of employees in organizations. Employees look for job security, a good work-life balance, and a meaningful career.
Whether it’s the infamous Twitter downsizing or the CEO of Better.com firing 900 employees over a zoom call, companies these days do not think twice before laying off their employees. Global conglomerates like Netflix, Ford, Meta, and Tesla are also a part of this mass layoff.
When employees’ reasons are understood and addressed by the companies and organizations, probably employees would refrain from moonlighting or The Great Resignation will become just a thing of the past.
Is it legal or illegal for employees to practice moonlighting?
In India, taking two jobs depends completely on the company’s policies, internal laws and non-competition laws, code of conduct, confidentiality issues stated in the legal contracts, and when working for rival competitors.
What restrains moonlighting?
When it comes to the state, it becomes a complicated affair. Take India for example, dual employment is restricted in India (for adult workers), according to the Factories Act (1948), Section 60. But this is limited only to laborers, not all sectors of the industries. IT Firms are exempted from following these rules and regulations and are given the leverage to enjoy their own employment status.
There is no specific law prohibiting moonlighting in India other than the terms and conditions like the single employment or non-compete clause mentioned in the job contract.
Companies favoring and rejecting moonlighting
Swiggy has come up with a moonlighting policy allowing their employees to subscribe to dual jobs as long as it’s not affecting their productivity or causing a conflict of interest.
HCL Tech doesn’t support moonlighting as stated by the CPO Ramachandran Sundararajan in the Q2 earnings briefing.
Tech Mahindra global CPO Harvendra Soin was quoted saying employees are allowed to work on side hustles or gigs during the weekends as long they take written approval, which is in line with the service agreement and does not involve working with competitor companies.
So should moonlighting be allowed?
As an employer, it is obvious to fear your employees moonlighting as it may lead to a conflict of interest, breach of confidential data, misuse of company assets, absenteeism, fatigue, and eventually burnout of employees. But if you devise a proper strategy and contract around it, it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s a well-known fact that doctors have practiced at their private clinics after working at hospitals, and teachers have taken classes post-school hours. As long as an employee is not offering the same skill services or selling out sensitive information to rival competitor companies, it shouldn’t matter.
However, it is also important to understand that a proficient employee will always be an asset to the company. If they are upskilling themselves, following their passions, and nurturing their creative juices without compromising on their deliverables and productivity, it shouldn’t be a concern.
Times are changing, and employers and companies allowing employees to moonlighting showcases a progressive mindset. People are expecting the government to formulate moonlighting policies, India’s labor court has adopted a provision for a 4-day workweek, and probably it’s time now to allow people to have multiple jobs by stating what’s okay and not in this kind of devised policy structure.
How does Remunance help in this kind of situation?
Remunance ensures a thorough background check is done on the employees. Our HR professionals spare no effort in digging deep into the history of the employment of potential candidates. Our team ensures the educational certificates provided by the candidates are authentic. We ensure a strict company policy setting and select candidates that bring ethics and integrity to the table. The contracts devised by us as an Employer of India cater to all the clauses, be it breach of contract, confidentiality, non-compete clause, single-employment status, and conflict of interest.