Working Two Jobs — Is There Room For Moonlighting Today?

Working Two Jobs — Is There Room For Moonlighting Today?

by S Rajesh - Sep 30, 2022 10:33 PM +05:30 IST
Working Two Jobs — Is There Room For Moonlighting Today?Moonlighting will soon become the norm.

Moonlighting — doing a second job while holding down a full-time job — has the Indian software services industry deeply divided.

Context: Wipro has sacked 300 moonlighters; TCS and Infosys have called moonlighting unethical.

  • Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji recently called moonlighting “cheating.”

  • TCS and Infosys have warned employees who indulge in the practice. 

So... employers don’t like it? Not all employers seem to be against moonlighting, though.

  • 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.”

  • Swiggy said that their employees can perform well even while picking up interesting projects outside of work. They have promised to support such employees.

There’s a case for it. Remember, we are still emerging from a pandemic. 

  • The take-home pay for employees was reduced in the last two years.

  • With widespread fear of a recession and loss of jobs, employees thought it was wise to build a second stream of income.

  • Besides, employees should have the freedom to use their skills and knowledge to good effect, even if it means working with multiple organisations.

  • Journalists, advertising professionals, beauticians, carpenters, car and appliance mechanics are among those who use skills developed in one work setting to start side gigs.

  • The positive: on the side job, they get to keep all their earnings.

Interestingly, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Information Technology, has weighed in on the side of moonlighters, saying the services sector must adjust to this new reality, given the lure of startups and high attrition rates.

It isn’t that simple, either. Moonlighting can easily slip into unethical territory.

  • For example, if an employee were to use a technology developed for a client, probably involving IPRs, to do their side jobs, that would not be okay.

  • Companies are right to worry about what clients would think when they have already outsourced or offshored critical parts of their own work to the tech services industry. The least they would expect is confidentiality.

  • If the employee uses company time — whether from home or office — to do their second job, that would count for unethical practice.

  • And if the employee were to continue doing this without informing their employer, especially if their gig is focused on, say, the same broad area of coding, this would be trouble as well.

There’s a middle way, as with anything in life.

  • Companies can tell employees what is acceptable, what is not, and create an atmosphere of trust where they can voluntarily declare a conflict of interest between their multiple jobs.

  • Perhaps, the pay scale for beginners needs to be reconsidered. As said by T V Mohandas Pai, “The IT industry has been exploiting freshers for the last 10 years. There has been no increase in compensation. Freshers are being paid the same Rs 3.5-3.8 lakh, which the companies were paying in 2008-09…”

  • Companies can also consider offering additional incentives to employees to do extra work for the company instead of moonlighting, since talent shortage is anyway an issue in some sectors.

  • Companies could make a start by at least releasing a part of the variable component of pay that they have withheld on the basis of lower Q1 margins.

Bottom line: The question of moonlighting doesn’t need to be answered with a hard yes or no.

  • Aspirations have risen, and people are no longer satisfied with a regular job and regular incomes. They want more.

  • Therefore, what you cannot change, you must embrace and manage. The challenge is to make moonlighting work for you.

Adapted from R Jagannathan’s article.

S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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