Moonlighting: Industry divided over ‘little extra income’

Priyanka Tanwer
Priyanka Tanwer Sep 26 2022 - 4 min read
Moonlighting: Industry divided over ‘little extra income’
In a country like India, which is rapidly heading towards a gig economy and jobs are temporary and often contractual in nature, a massive debate has broken out in the software services sector over ‘moonlighting’, or the pursuit of a second job even while holding a full-time job in the organised sector.

The tech companies and techies are at loggerheads over practice of moonlighting. Recently, Wipro firied 300 of its employees over the alleged moonlighting, which is a trend pushed by the post-pandemic era in the professional spheres across the world. In the last few months, the term ‘moonlighting’ has entered conversations about the workplace. This conversation has initiated an argument among various stakeholders in the industry and has also divided the population on the social media.

Meanwhile, Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar has given a thumbs up to the moonlighting while saying that companies which are trying to prevent their employees from ‘consulting for other firms’ are indulging in an exercise that is ‘doomed to fail.’

What is Moonlighting?

Moonlighting means taking up a second job or multiple other work assignments apart from one’s full-time job. This is something which is done without informing the employer. The employees basically work for other organisation while committing oneself to one’s primary workplace. The work which the employee does without the knowledge of employer is termed as ‘moonlighting’.

Recently, the companies have opposed to this practice, saying that employees doing multiple or doing other assignments can impact their productivity.

Speaking with Opportunity India, Amit Singh, Founder, TelioEV- Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network provider said that the second job primarily offers an addition to the original income slabs to meet their everyday needs. Some might also take it up with the intention to upskill or pursue their passion.

“Whatever may be the reason, it can be allowed only if it’s discussed and shared with the employer.  We have seen examples where a person takes up employment from two different firms for the same designation,” Singh said.

He said that a junior android developer is taking out two projects simultaneously for two different firms. This is mostly seen after the rise of the work-from-home culture. Not that WFH is the issue, but moonlighting in such cases leads to data and trust breaches.

“If people have extra time in hand, they can take it out for their hobbies or passions without hindering the trust. But also, as employers, why people take up moonlighting is the real issue that we need to find out. A software developer who is a part-time cook at some restaurant cannot be the issue if one doesn’t affect the other. In such ways, it can also be supported,” Singh added.

Meanwhile, Kartik Gupta- Co-Founder of Goofy Tails- Nutritions Focused Pet products company, said, “Being a start-up we want a fully dedicated and committed team.  Having dual employment will lead to lack of focus and lack of productivity which no business will allow its employees to do.”

He said that this also curbs their appetite to grow in their existing organisation. But in few cases there is no harm in having a few side jobs if they don’t interfere with your schedule or appetite. For instance, working on a Sunday to create a design or a website is fine.

“However, I am sure we shouldn’t complain about work-life balance in that case!” he added.

Sharing her views on the issue, Ria Rustagi, Founder of Neuphony said that she worked with a German company while working on Neuphony but that was totally transparent.

“On the employees’ point of view, I think it is good because the life is too short and how can a person who is professionally into a career explore any other parallel part? I would have never known that I was born to be an entrepreneur. It should be allowed and I believe that if the HR and the company build the trust relationship, the employee will tell you this. I feel it is completely fine,” Ria told Opportunity India.

Recently, Wipro has fired its 300 employees after finding out that they were working with one of its competitors at the same time. Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji on September 21 said, “The reality is that there are people today working for Wipro and working directly for one of our competitors and we have actually discovered 300 people in the last few months who are doing exactly that.”

Premji added that their employment had been terminated for ‘act of integrity violation’.

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