White-collar professionals in India have started moonlighting as a result of the work-from-home (WFH) operating model, which has caused compliance concerns within businesses and sparked discussion over the viability of the gig economy.
A food delivery service called Swiggy unveiled an industry-first “Moonlighting policy” in August that permitted its staff to work on other projects under certain restrictions after business hours. The chairman of Wipro, Rishad Premji, referred to the practice of moonlighting as cheating a few days after Swiggy’s statement.
In this blog, we will understand moonlighting, its ethics, and the legality of moonlighting in India.
What Is Moonlighting?
Working for one organization while taking on additional tasks, usually without the employer’s knowledge, is known as moonlighting. Working a second job at night or on the weekends is considered moonlighting. When Americans started seeking a second job in addition to their 9-to-5 occupations to augment their income, the term “moonlighting” gained popularity.
Moonlighting Is Ethical or unethical?
While some consider it unethical, others feel it is urgent. The chairman of Wipro, Rishad Premji, claimed on Twitter that working two jobs is unethical in the software sector. However, Mohandas Pai disagrees with Premji on this matter. The former Infosys director does not regard working a second job as “cheating.” “I have a contract with my employer under which I am paid in exchange for working for them for ‘n’ amount of hours per day. Now that time has passed, I am free to do as I like.
It was “not prevalent,” according to Tech Mahindra’s MD, CP Gurnani. Gurnani continued by saying that his company would definitely “create a policy” allowing employees to openly hold down two jobs at once. ” “Frankly, I am going to make it a policy that if you want to do it (moonlighting), be open about it,” he said.
Moonlighting in India
In India, it’s legal to hold multiple jobs without contravening the law. However, a person with a comparable set of employment could raise worries about a breach of confidence because many employers often forbid employees from holding down more than one job in their employment agreements.
If an employee’s contract stipulates non-compete and exclusive employment, as is the case with the majority of traditional employment contracts, moonlighting might be regarded as cheating. If the employment contracts do not contain this clause or offer exceptions, it is not considered cheating.
Dual employment is not permitted under the Factories Act. IT corporations are, however, excluded from that rule in several states. Employees should carefully review their employment contract with their primary employer to ensure compliance with any moonlighting policies before seeking side work or launching a business.
While staying competent and productive is crucial, moonlighting may be a way to avoid disengagement, learn new things, and expand your enthusiasm. Moonlighting defeats the fundamental purpose of rest hours, holidays, and leave, while also having a negative impact on workers’ physical and mental health and contributing to burnout. Losing expertise, data, and technology to rivals will also be a threat to the employer.
While businesses like Swiggy have developed a policy allowing employees to moonlight in a capacity that does not present a conflict of interest and has no negative effects on productivity, it may herald a new era in employment. Companies may include a conflict-of-interest clause in the employment contract as well as an exclusive clause prohibiting moonlighting. Still, legal restrictions alone will not provide the desired results if there is no trust and no engagement.
Diya Thapp, Student
Govt. Mohindra College Patiala
Edited by Sahid, Team Member, LawDiktat