Wipro has terminated 300 employees for moonlighting

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Wipro fires 300 employees moonlighting
Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji said on 21 September and he added that their employment had been terminated for an "act of integrity violation".

India’s IT services provider company, Wipro has laid off 300 employees who were found working with its competitor companies at the same time employment with Wipro.

Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji said on 21 September that their employment has been terminated for an “act of integrity violation”.

“The reality is that there are people today working for Wipro and working directly for one of our competitors and we have actually discovered 300 people in the last few months who are doing exactly that,” Rishad Premji said speaking at AIMA’s (All India Management Association) National Management Convention.

“If you actually look at the definition of Moonlighting, it is having a second job secretively…I’m all about transparency.  As a part of transparency, individuals in organizations can have very candid conversations,” he said, where someone may want to play in a band or work on a project over the weekend.

“That’s an open conversation that the two adult individuals –  the organization and the individual – can make a concerted choice about whether that works for them or doesn’t work for them as an organization,” he added.

Rishad Premji even added, “There is no space for someone to work for Wipro and competitor XYZ and they would feel exactly the same way if they were to discover the same situation.”

He added that the point he was alluding was that Wipro employees are working directly for its competitors, which, he stressed, was a “complete violation of integrity in its deepest form”.

“I will stand by what I said. But I do think it’s a violation of integrity if you’re moonlighting in that shape and form,” he added.

Earlier, Wipro chairman Rishad Premji also described moonlighting as “cheating plain and simple.”

What is Moonlighting?

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.

Other India’s Top IT giants including TCS and Infosys have criticized the moonlighting practices and have termed it as ‘unethical’ and ‘cheating’.

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

Commenting on this, Rajesh Padmanabhan, CEO, Talavvy Business Catalysts and former Head-HR, Welspun Group said, “Moonlighting is gathering pace faster than we can see, react or respond.”

“Employment contracts provide for ‘non conflict’ & ‘confidentiality clause’. Assuming this is found out where employees violate then the case is straight for an exit. The industry will need to recognise that the right to earn a living is fundamental and employees will soon challenge ‘non-conflict’ soon. I am seeing a massive collective force that will make the industry leaders specify these clauses in contracts clearly and they will start applying for permission as step next. Then what?”

I see ground breaking revolution in the following areas.

  • People will apply for permission to take up avenues for moonlighting.
  • Policies will need to be freshly made and unilateral diktats are fear-driven approaches that will have a massive impact on engagement.
  • This will just not work and is like going back to the management style of 50 years back.
  • Alternative non-conflict areas will mushroom and industry will have to respond maturedly.
  • Birth of skill-based staffing companies where talent will lend capabilities for price and not lend themselves as captives.

He further said, “All in all, let us recognize the force and not block it but deal with it and sooner the better. I am sure this is not just 300 we are talking about but recognizing a completely new way of life which is the mass expectation. Reading this, I am not sure the industry will be able to sustain it this way.”

“The captains will need to process this well & call for matured collective wisdom to come in and shape the Force than blocking it. A New Beginning!” He added.

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 Nay sayers initially till substantial momentum is gathered. I expect Gig workers to become mainstay in the next couple of years in new age companies…..larger companies to follow thereafter.”

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