Source: Indian Express; Times of India
News: Recently, a new “moonlighting” policy announced by Food delivery start-up Swiggy allowed its employees to take up gigs or projects outside their regular employment after working hours.
Concept of moonlighting:
- Side jobs that are mostly at night time or on weekends, are referred to as Moonlighting.
- Under Moonlighting, an employee works at an extra job beyond regular working hours, mostly without the knowledge of the employer.
- This term Moonlighting became popular when workers in the US started seeking a second job beyond their regular 9-to-5 work for additional income.
- Simple meaning of Moonlighting is holding another job during the working hours of employment.
Various instances of Moonlighting:
- While tracking provident fund accounts of Bengaluru-based person HR found that he was working in seven different jobs.
- Case of taking up another job without quitting one job: In a Mumbai based IT firm, red flags were raised by juniors of an employee when official email was being used by an employee to send large files to another company.
- In an MNC firm in Bengaluru twelve of its coders were moonlighting, they were turned into contractual employees.
Reasons for increase in Moonlighting:
- COVID induced lockdown led to increase in Work from home scenarios given a possibility to employees to work two jobs. According to recent survey by Kotak Institutional Equities in IT and ITeS space, while working from home around 65 percent of people were pursuing part-time opportunities or moonlighting.
- Financial insecurity during coronavirus forced workers to take up multiple projects.
- Greater legitimacy of the concept of gig economy in recent years due to which moonlighting is considered as the future of work.
- Work from Home opportunities enabled some IT workers to do bare minimum at their jobs to juggle multiple responsibilities.
- Reduction in productivity levels and loss of skilled employees has increased moonlighting in the IT industry.
- Shortage of skilled workers: In India there is a huge gap in skills having 54% of employees strongly lag in skills.
- IT & ITES sector is facing a challenge to retain employees: Willis Towers Watson ‘Reimagining Work and Rewards Survey’ revealed India Inc is facing a challenge to retain the right talent. According to this survey 64% of the companies are finding it difficult to retain their talents.
- Employers are not focusing enough to train their workers for specialist skills hence employees are taking gigs to upskill themselves.
- Moonlighting allows a person to develop new skills, explore related domains and connect with more people as they work in different roles.
Concerns associated with Moonlighting:
- Moonlighting may impact the workers productivity on the full-time job as an employee is expected and required to spend his entire working time, efforts and energy for the employer.
- Most of the moonlight work was done during holidays and time-off and this time meant to rest a worker but this will become difficult due to another job.
- Issues of conflict of interest due to moonlighting: In certain roles serving one interest worked against another.In such roles moonlighting may become a problem.
- Possibility of Insider trading: where employees may share unpublished price-sensitive information (UPSI) knowingly or unknowingly that can affect the undisclosed stock price.
- Apprehension in Industry: Very few firms are open to moonlighting.Some Companies like Wipro termed the concept of moonlighting as pure cheating.
- Confidentiality issues: As moonlighting may lead to risk of leakage of data,confidential information and intellectual property with competitors.
- Moonlighting is shifting towards daylighting: Earlier, moonlighting jobs were considered as side hustle mostly done at night time or weekends. But,now employees are focusing more on their gigs even during the office hours.
- Trust Issues: Most workers kept their second job discreet, even in countries like the US where double employment is not banned.
- Ethical concerns: There is debate going on ethics of secretly taking another job as these jobs are pursued without keeping full time employers in loop.
- There are cases that moonlight works are done using resources of full time jobs.
Legal status of Moonlighting in India:
- Holding multiple jobs is not allowed by private companies in India.
- Various states restrict double employment through Shops and Establishment Acts but its application varies when it comes to highly-specialised industries.
- Factories Act also restricts double employment but the law does not apply to IT companies in some states.
- If moonlighting starts impacting the company, management should take disciplinary action.
- Employees should comply with moonlighting policies of the company.
- Employers should take measures such as the introduction of the Moonlighting Clause keeping in mind the well being of the employees.
- Moonlight policy of the company must clearly classify the nature of works that can be taken as side hustle.
- Coronavirus induced lockdown brought disruptions in the lives of people. New concepts such as gig economy and moonlighting are becoming part and parcel of life. But, these things have their own challenges beyond the current regulatory framework. Here in this article we discussed the concept of moonlighting, recent instances of moonlighting & its reasons and associated concern. Article ended with a possible way forward to deal with moonlighting.
1.Explained: Swiggy’s moonlighting policy that allows staff to take up gigs beyond regular job
2.Explained: What is moonlighting and if it’s legal in India