Moonlighting: Why it’s a big deal for companies

Uma Ganesh | October 24, 2022 |

The question is also about work formats & hiring philosophies

There has been a lot of debate around moonlighting lately not only among employers and employees in India but their customers overseas. The debate on moonlighting has touched upon several aspects including ethics, contractual obligations as well as the right of low-paid youngsters to earn additional sums of money.

It is important to note that these three dimensions are independent of each other and should not be viewed through a common lens in the context of moonlighting. Fundamentally, if the employment contract clearly states that the employee cannot undertake any other assignment with monetary returns, the case for moonlighting simply does not arise. It’s the legal and ethical obligation of the employees to stand by the contract.

The recent incident when Wipro fired some employees in dual employment or the recent announcement by TCS about its intent to take strict action against those moonlighting highlights the concerns of the industry.

The hard work, sincerity and diligence of Indian IT professionals have been appreciated at every critical juncture the world has experienced — whether it was at the time of surmounting the problem of coding around Y2K and transitioning smoothly in circa 2000 or the tough times heralded by Covid-19 requiring overnight abilities of large and small corporations to go digital to service their customers — the world has recognised the immense value of Indian IT talent to successfully handle such critical situations. If the Indian IT industry, which touched $200 billion revenue in 2021, has to grow to $350 billion by 2021-26, the primary strength of our talent and intent to build and enhance trustworthy partnerships for mission critical applications and products would be paramount.

For individuals who wish to work on more than one assignment at a time and for companies who wish to draw upon diverse talent, the gig format of working without being bound by employment contracts gives flexibility to all the stakeholders. Bringing in transparency and encouraging the workforce to be aligned with the policies and employment formats is absolutely essential.

The question of low salaries for freshers cannot be the rationale for moonlighting as each company has built its business model around employment strategies that best suit them and their customers. Employees should be encouraged to discuss their areas of interests and employers should form views on the likely conflicts to their business or renegotiate the contracts and their compensation in order to permit them to share their time between organisations if that suits the philosophy of the business and its customers.

In summary, it’s not just the question of how to prevent employees from moonlighting that requires attention, the question is also about the hiring philosophy of businesses and their work formats that require to be addressed together in order to bring clarity to all stakeholders.

Originally appeared in Financial Express