What is Moonlighting? Moonlighting Ethical or Unethical?

Since moonlighting has become the most trending topic, you must wondering what is moonlighting? Moonlighting has become the hot topic after Wipro fired 300 employees for moonlighting, as reported by The Economic Times.

The Executive Chairman of Wipro, Mr. Rishad Premji said that the employees had taken up roles for rival companies while still being on Wipro’s payroll. He said it was “an act of integrity violation”. Premji also stood by his earlier comment where he had said that moonlighting is a form of “cheating”.

Speaking at an AIMA event, Premji who has been a vocal critic of moonlighting, said “If you actually look at the definition of Moonlighting, it is having a second job secretively. I’m all about transparency. As a part of transparency, individuals in organizations can have very candid conversations”.

The appointment letter by Wipro clearly states that employees must exclusively work for the company. Infosys recently sent an email to employees saying disciplinary action would be taken if anyone was found to be moonlighting.

Let’s understand what is moonlighting.

Moonlighting means working part-time at another organization while being a full-time employee of a particular company. Moonlighting refers to the practice of taking up secondary jobs after regular work hours. This secondary job is taken secretly without employers’ knowledge.

For example, moonlighting is when someone has more than one job at a time. Moonlighting usually refers to when a person has another job outside of normal working hours. Therefore, someone can have a regular job from 9 pm to 5 pm for his main source of income but also work at another job to earn extra money.

Is moonlighting ethical or unethical?

There is an ongoing debate around moonlighting if moonlighting ethical or unethical or moonlighting legal in India or not? Do you think it is ethical to have more than one job? But taking them up “in secret” maybe?

Some companies are ok with moonlighting, and some argue taking a second job after regular work hours without the employer’s knowledge isn’t ethical. Companies fear it creates a conflict of interest and possible data breaches; it might be the case.

The corporate world, specially IT industry is divided when it comes to moonlighting. Some say it is unethical while others believe it is the need of the hour and it is ethical.

Some companies consider moonlighting unethical and cheating. Moonlighting could be considered unethical and cheating if an employee’s contract calls for non-compete and single employment, which is the situation with most conventional employment contracts.

However, it is not cheating if the employment contracts do not have such a clause. A person spending time to earn extra after the “regular” number of working hours shouldn’t be called unethical or cheating. Well, if it’s a direct competitor then obviously there is a conflict of interest, but if they are working for non-competitors, it should not be seen as unethical.

Recently Brands like Swiggy have allowed moonlighting and announced an “industry first” policy that allowed moonlighting for its employees. “Any project or activity that is taken up outside office hours or on the weekend, without affecting productivity, and does not have a conflict of interest, can be picked up by the employees,” Swiggy said.

Having two jobs is definitely a concern, however pursuing non-conflicting passions in free time for a fee should be viewed positively.

For example, if someone is a full-time Software Engineer from Monday to Friday, he can choose to be a DJ or Teacher on Saturday or Sunday and get paid for it. If what you do does not conflict with a full-time job, your employer will understand it. However, holding two project manager positions at the same time in 2 companies simultaneously is a gray area.

Is moonlighting legal in India?

Moonlighting is also called double employment in India. A person can hold multiple jobs without breaking the law. However, many employers include restrictions in their employment contracts to prohibit employees from having more than one job. Similar jobs may have concerns about breaches of confidentiality. Now many professional are wondering is moonlighting legal in India?

If an employee’s contract includes clauses of non-compete and single employment, moonlighting could be considered illegal. However, it is not illegal if the employment contract does not include any such clauses.

If there are no conflicts in the business, why would the employers need to worry about moonlighting?

Still, before seeking a second job or starting a business, employees are advised to carefully review the employment contract of their main job to ensure compliance with any moonlighting policies.

Should moonlighting be a concern?

Why did the need for ‘moonlighting’, occur in the first place? Moonlighting is not a new concept. It only got highlighted because of Covid. There are lot of corporate employees having a side business, consultancy, trading business, running agencies while they are on a full-time job.

The founders of Infosys, Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, S. D. Shibulal, Kris Gopalakrishnan, K. Dinesh, N. S. Raghavan, and Ashok Arora got together while they were working for Patni Computers. it wasn’t called ‘moonlighting’ back then.

Now, major IT firms are raising concerns about moonlighting, reports Livemint. Low productivity, possible data breaches, and conflicts of interest are making companies cautious.

IBM is the latest to disapprove of the moonlighting practice. IBM India Managing Director, Mr. Sandip Patel says that moonlighting is “unethical” and employees are contract-bound to work full-time at IBM.

Now a days most of the jobs are underpaid. To meet financial needs and to beat inflation one cannot afford to rely only on one salary. One also has to pay a lot of taxes to govt as well.

Considering all these factors a person is left with no other option but to opt for moonlighting. Though it helps a bit financially in long run and it also affects mental and physical health. So, to overcome this issue it’s the responsibility of the company to pay its employees fairly.

The debate is seamless and endless but the moonlighting is here to stay.

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What is Moonlighting? Moonlighting Ethical or Unethical?

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