No Problem with Moonlighting unless contract breached: Minister

Moonlighting is Ok if There is No Breach of Contract Rajeev Chandrasekhar
The Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT and Skill Development, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, commented, that ‘moonlighting by IT employees is okay if there is no breach of contract’

Most recently, Infosys has fired a few employees in recent months for moonlighting. However, the exact numbers are not mentioned.

Earlier, Wipro laid off 300 employees who were found working with its competitor companies at the same time employment with Wipro.

The Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT and Skill Development, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, commented on the current controversial debate Moonlighting, that ‘moonlighting by IT employees is okay if there is no breach of contract’.

The IT minister acknowledged that moonlighting is a trend, claiming that the practice will evolve over the years with “more employees preferring to take up jobs as consultants”. 

“My point on this is very simple: Employee entrepreneurship is a trend we cannot ignore. In the future, the model is going to involve more and more groups of individuals working together as a group, either loosely connected or tightly connected, who will be doing significant amounts of work,” said the minister. 

He emphasized, “I want to be very clear on behalf of myself, my ministry, and the government of India that I will never condone it and it is not a great idea for any employee to start talking about violating a contractual commitment he or she has with the company.”  

Moonlighting means working for one organisation 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.

In India, as per the Labour Law, if you are fully employed, you cannot have your own business or even work elsewhere. Most private organizations also have policies that prohibit moonlighting and take strict action against employees who are taking up outside second jobs.

HCLTech has said that it does not approve of dual employment, the issue is not a major one within the company.

Ramachandran Sundararajan, Chief People Officer of the company said during the Q2 earnings briefing said, “Dual employment while working for HCL Tech…we do not approve that.”

“Everybody who signs up to work for HCL Tech is signing up employment contract which requires exclusivity. The requirements around confidentiality and non-compete… all those provisions that are there we expect our employees to honour those commitments”, Ramachandran Sundararajan added.

Earlier, Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji also described moonlighting as “cheating plain and simple.” Other India’s Top IT giants including Infosys have criticized the moonlighting practices and have termed it as ‘unethical’ and ‘cheating’.

Milind Lakkad, Global Head HR, TCS said, “Moonlighting is an ethical issue and it’s against the company’s core values as well as culture.”

Commenting on this, Lakshmanan M T, Chief Human Resources Officer at L&T Technology Services Limited, said, “I expect smaller new age companies to come up with employment models that provide employees with the required flexibility. The larger companies will have to follow if they have to remain competitive in the talent market.”

He added, “Like all change, this one will also have a lot of Naysayers initially till substantial momentum is gathered. I expect Gig workers to become a mainstay in the next couple of years in new age companies…..larger companies to follow thereafter.”

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


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