Incidences of moonlighting are not one-off cases but still remain a small part of the IT sector as well as the overall industry, say staffing companies and industry experts. However, even as these remain a grey area in terms of ethics and the rise of the gig economy, experts note that Indian employment laws and job contracts do not support such dual employment.
“The number of people moonlighting across any sector will be very negligible. It will be based on their individual needs, values and ethics. Most software engineers come from fairly middle class families and it is unlikely that they would risk their jobs to make a quick buck. I have not come across complaints from my customers that their employees are moonlighting,” said Siva Prasad Nanduri, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Digital, but noted that there is a huge talent crunch in the market.
The pandemic has also exacerbated the situation and now employers want greater control over employees. “They want them back at work while employees are looking for more flexibility,” he noted.
Moonlighting by employees post the pandemic has gained prominence with many IT firms raising the issue. Wipro recently fired 300 employees over the issue.
Lohit Bhatia, President- Workforce Management, Quess Corp, said moonlighting has always been a feature in freelancing and has been used by skilled professionals especially in finance and accounting , marketing and sales.
“The current discussion in the IT industry is about a full-time employee, moonlighting for another assignment during the night shift, or during weekends. The real issue here is information and data confidentiality,” he pointed out.
According to Sachin Alug, CEO, NLB Services, the number of IT professionals who moonlight clearly overshadows those from other sectors although employees in other sectors also take up such jobs.
“Studies have shown that in the post-Covid period, at least one in 100 IT employees tend to have more than one job. No doubt, there were instances even before the pandemic. However, remote and hybrid work models seem to have accelerated it into a trend rather than an obscure practice,” he said.
No dual employment
Sanket Jain, Partner, Pioneer Legal, said there is no specific legislation on dual employment in India.
“However, the Shops and Establishments Act briefly touches upon it for white collar workers but this is State specific. Delhi deals with it specifically and says if an employee is working with an employer, he cannot have a similar relationship with another employer. Maharashtra is completely silent on this,” he said.
For blue collar workers, the Factories Act is very clear that they cannot be employed at two places. But every contract or employment letter typically states that an employee will have to give all their time effort with this organisation and they can not be working with any other organisation, he further noted.
From the contractual standpoint, most companies today prohibit moonlighting, said Alug of NLB services, adding that going forward, it will require a different kind of a framework should organisations want to encourage it in any form. “There will also be a segregation of jobs that will be open to moonlighting versus that are not,” he said.