I had heard about moonwalking, but now-a-days moonlighting is more in the news.
I was a bit surprised why Wipro sacked around 300 employees for ‘moonlighting’ and why other IT companies like IBM and Infosys had warned their employees against this latest trend of Moonlighting, wherein a company employee engages in dual employment covertly, without keeping the primary employers informed.
Actually it all started when IT professionals were given an option to WFH (Work From Home), during the Covid-19 pandemic. Employees’ days are now longer as they spend less time in commuting. So some of them use extra time for their side employments.
What they did was to have two different laptops catering to two different clients but with the same WiFi, all from the comfort of own home. Double delivery with double payment. There was no source to catch them, as they were performing exceedingly well for both clients.
But the culprit was their own PF (Provident Fund) contributions that had to be deposited by employers regularly with no exception. Non-compliance is treated as a serious offence in India.
Aadhar and PAN numbers are the basic documents that are taken by banks to open salary account, and by companies to do back ground check, as also to deposit PF. So it’s not possible for any moonlighter to create two identities for themselves .
EPFO regularly checks whether all employees are paid every month. The de-duplication algorithm also finds whether someone has been paid double by mistake. In case of accounts of individuals, where contributions were more than one, the matter was reported to companies to cross-check and the fact of moonlighting came into light.
IT services have now openly cautioned their staffers against taking a second job after work hours clearly stating that such moonlighters have no place who choose to work directly with rivals creating a conflict of interest. Companies are of the considered view that ‘two-timing’ and ‘double lives’ impact the productivity of employees.
There may always be two views, and moonlighting is not an exception. CEO of Tech Mahindra says, “As long as an employee is achieving the set productivity and efficiency targets, and is not doing anything against the ethics of the company, moonlighting should not be a problem.”
Swiggy has already announced an industry-first ‘Moonlighting Policy’ by allowing employees to work on other projects after working hours.
In a government job, one cannot think of taking up another job. It will attract termination. Ethics and loyalty are of paramount importance. But in private or multinational companies, which follow ‘hire and fire policy’, the issue of loyalty takes a back seat. A freelancer can work for many clients simultaneously.
If a company can take up other activities in addition to main business, it’s called diversification, and it taken as the sign of growth, but if an employee does the same thing, why should it be condemned?
I know people may raise the issue of ethics, loyalty and conflict of interest etc. Some may also feel that when a large number of unemployed youth are there, dual employment should be strictly prohibited.
I think there will be more discussions on the issue in days and months to come, to arrive at some concrete solutions.