Moonlighting gets government support

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Moonlighting gets government support
Software companies need to understand the change in the mentality of their young employees, who have been “bit by the entrepreneurial bug,” Honourable Minister said.

Commenting on the controversial issue of Moonlighting, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT and Skill Development Rajeev Chandrashekhar said, “Companies that try to prevent employees from working on their own startups or consulting for other firms is a doomed-to-fail exercise.”

On September 23, while addressing an event of the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI), the Minister said, “The younger generation has every sense of confidence and purpose about wanting to monetise and create more values.”

Software companies need to understand the change in the mentality of their young employees, who have been “bit by the entrepreneurial bug,” Honourable Minister said.

“Moonlighting represents two very significant phenomena. One is the entrepreneurial bug that has bitten every techie. Two, the talent deficit or demand for talent. For a company to forbid a young engineer from dabbling in a startup…they (companies) do not understand the change in model,” Honourable Minister further told Economic Times.

Honourable Minister, however, agreed that it should not be in violation of any contractual obligations.

Moonlighting means working for one organization while taking extra jobs, usually without the employer’s knowledge. Moonlighting is side employment taken up at night or on the weekends.

The phrase moonlighting became popular when Americans started looking for a second job in addition to their 9-to-5 jobs to supplement their income.

Moonlighting became a concern during the pandemic when employees started working from home. There was suspicion that employees were using the privacy afforded by remote work to simultaneously do projects for others.

When it comes to moonlighting, the IT industry is divided. Top IT giants including TCS and Infosys have criticized the moonlighting practices and have termed it as ‘unethical’ and ‘cheating’. Recently Wipro fired 300 employees for moonlighting.

However, there have been few companies such as Swiggy and Tech Mahindra that have come out in the favour of moonlighting.

Honourable Minister, Rajeev Chandrashekhar further said, “this is the age of employee-entrepreneurs and corporates, and companies must now understand there has been a structural shift in the minds and attitudes of the young Indian tech workforce. Employers expect employees to be entrepreneurial while serving them. The same people can apply it personally to themselves,”

“Just like lawyers or consultants do. This is the future of work,” the minister said.

Tech Mahindra CEO C P Gurnani tweeted recently that it is necessary to keep changing with the times and added, “I welcome disruption in the ways we work.”

IT industry veteran and former director of Infosys, Mohandas Pai told PTI that low entry-level salary in the tech industry has contributed to moonlighting. During the pandemic, Pai said, there was a surge in gig opportunities as “everything went digital”.

“If you don’t pay people well, they say I want to earn more money, and here is the easy way of earning well because technology is available…I get paid in dollars very well, I can earn more… and so that is attractive,” he observed.

Pai contends that the salaries of freshers in the software industry have not seen much improvement in the last 10 years, and professionals are, in fact, “underpaid” in the first 3-4 years of their careers.

“Outside that time (work hours), what you do, is your problem,” he asserted.

Pai estimates that 6-8 per cent of people indulge in moonlighting now, as against 1-2 per cent earlier.

1 COMMENT

  1. 👍Moonlighting should be allowed. Stakeholders involved should get aligned on the benefits and agree on the precautions like confidentiality etc. In many industries and typically in IT and consulting, employees work for multiple client companies. This enhances cost effectiveness and cross-functional learning & skills.

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