Moonlighting: An Ethical Concern Or Just A Buzz?

Moonlighting: An Ethical Concern Or Just A Buzz?

Business

Wipro has fired 300 staff members who it discovered were working for its competitors, Wipro Chairperson Rishad Premji confirmed on 21st Sept i.e. Wednesday. He iterated that there is no place for such people in the company.

There is a lot of debate going on about the practice of ‘Moonlighting’. Moonlighting is a term that has gained momentum in the post-pandemic era, people are now taking up side jobs to earn an additional income. But if moonlighting serves as a helping hand for the employees why is it bothering the employers so much and why there is so much fuss around this trend? In this article, we will address, why employers think that moonlighting is unethical and employees who are involved in such activities are breaking the law.  But first, let’s understand what is moonlighting. 

What Is Moonlighting?

If a person takes up a side job in addition to his/her regular employment, it is considered moonlighting. The term is known as moonlighting because usually the extra job is performed either at night or on weekends, after regular working hours, hence the term is associated with the moon and lighting. With the rising inflation and demands, the primary reason why people engage in moonlighting activities is to earn extra money to meet their financial needs. Apart from that, adding an additional skills and experience can be one of the reasons behind moonlighting.

However, moonlighting is not a new concept among white-collar professionals. Before this, people were taking up extra work apart from their full-time work. So why these words are making headlines now and why most businesses are against the idea of moonlighting? This term has recently become the hottest trend that divided the entire business community. The majority of the working professionals and few companies also, support the concept of moonlighting. While most companies including the big tech companies are against this side hustle culture.  

Ethical Or Not?

Moonlighting: Ethical or Not
Credit: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Let’s see how companies are reacting to moonlighting and the whole ideology behind it! 

The entire debate gained momentum in India when the food delivery giant, Swiggy introduced the new policy for its employees stating that its employees can take up an extra job after work hours following certain guidelines and restrictions. But the policy clearly mentions that the extra jobs of the employees should not affect the employee’s full-time job and productivity in any manner. This notice by Swiggy sparked debate among business professionals and companies claiming that moonlighting is no ethical practice. 

Among the pool of moonlighting criticism, the one that remains in the spotlight is of email by the tech giant, Infosys. With the subject line, “No two-timing, no moonlighting,” the company clearly warns its employees against moonlighting. The company also made it very clear that if anyone finds out to be involved in moonlighting activities, it will lead to direct termination of employment.

The other statement against moonlighting comes from Wipro Chairman, Rishad Premji said, it is “cheating–plain and simple”. The CEO of TCS, N Ganapathy Subramaniam also considered moonlighting an ethical issue.

However, some companies disagree with the statement that moonlighting is an ethical issue. MD of Tech Mahindra, CP Gurnani, stated that his company most probably makes a policy allowing its employees to pursue multiple jobs. He said that it is necessary to keep changing with the times. He further adds, “I welcome disruption in the ways we work.”

Is Moonlighting Legal In India?

There is no firm law in India that prohibits one from doing multiple jobs. However, the experts raise concerns regarding confidentiality and breach of privacy because the employee is engaged in multiple jobs of similar nature.

Working from home increased the possibility of moonlighting depending upon the nature of the job, employment agreement and other confidential norms of the company. 

Some experts advocate the fact that moonlighting is illegal in India, there were cases in the past where courts permitted employers to terminate employment when the employee was caught doing multiple jobs. This restriction can be implemented under the Factories Act, Section 60,  which states double employment is illegal. However, this law is not applicable in the IT sector in all states of India. 

But on the other hand, employees believe that companies cannot terminate the employee for moonlighting as long as the person is doing it after working hours. So, employees can do whatever they want, the company has no right to restrict them.

However, an employee must have read the policies and procedures mentioned in the contract carefully. If there is a clause in the contract that restricts an employee from dual or multiple employment, the company has the complete right of employment termination of a person who gets caught moonlighting. 

Final Words

It is true that moonlighting is not something new but an old technique that gives employees an opportunity to earn extra income. But the pandemic of 2020 paves the way for employees to explore other sources of income. And the work-from-home setting gives them the opportunity and time to indulge in multiple employment opportunities.

The whole business community is divided on the whole ideology of moonlighting. On one side, white-collar professionals and employees are liking this trend because it is beneficial for them and provides extra support financially. While this trend is becoming a matter of concern for companies because they fear the breach of confidential information through employees while working for multiple clients. 

It is tough to say who is right and who is wrong in this whole matter. Both sides support their sides with valid points. In this whole debate, one thing is for sure, this whole controversy is not going to end soon. 

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