Leaders from India’s biggest tech companies are speaking out against moonlighting. Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji tweeted that taking on other jobs without the knowledge of your primary employer is a “form of cheating.”
TCS COO N Ganapathy Subramaniam and IBM India head Sandip Patel called moonlighting an “ethical issue.”
Meanwhile, tech conglomerate Infosys distributed an internal email to its employees warning them against moonlighting. The firm emphasized that this practice is against its rules, and anyone violating it could face disciplinary action or termination.
But what is moonlighting, and why are so many business leaders speaking out against it?
According to an article by the India Times, moonlighting is the practice of working other jobs outside your primary one to earn extra income. This practice gained popularity worldwide — specifically in the tech industry —- as the COVID-19 pandemic brought economic hardships to almost everyone.
Supply chain issues have worsened, inflation is rising, and recession is possibly coming. People had to think of new ways to earn more than their regular income.
In all fairness, moonlighting became easier as work-from-home became widely implemented. People have extra time and freedom on their hands, allowing them to look for other side-gigs without anyone knowing.
After all, as most of them reasoned, it is just a side gig and something to be done outside of work hours.
Well, executives beg to differ. Infosys pointed out that taking several jobs outside their knowledge could impact their productivity, job performance, and data security.
The fact that it is illegal in India also raises eyebrows. According to the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Central Rules, 1946, a worker should not work against the interest of the industrial establishment. They should not take any additional employment which may adversely affect the employer’s interest.
However, as everyone does, employees find loopholes that clear them of any illegal charges.
But wait, is moonlighting that bad?
From an employee’s perspective, moonlighting is an opportunity to earn more money in this current world of rising inflation and living costs.
Girish Menon, HR heard of food delivery platform Swiggy — one of the few companies that allow moonlighting — said that this act is the future of work and that employees “will be responsible and declare what gigs or projects they’re getting into.”
On the other hand, moonlighting is a big dilemma for employers. Not only are their employees occupied with other tasks, but there is also a good chance that their people are working for their competitors right under their noses.
There is also this significant issue of “confidentiality” and how moonlighting puts the company’s most kept secret at risk.
So perhaps, companies vehemently against moonlighting would have to draft stricter policies that could permanently ban moonlighting in their company.