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Moonlighting puzzles the IT sector

by Rinku Khumukcham
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With the passage of time new terminology comes into play. What was earlier called your own business is now termed a Startup. Startup means the initial stage of a company. When one or more entrepreneurs start a company or project realizing the demand for a product or service, it is called a startup. One such startup with a billion-dollar value is called a Unicorn. Moonlighting is another new word being talked about in the corporate world these days. Its literal meaning is the light of the moon, but its actual meaning is also something similar. Moonlighting is the practice of working for an external paid project while being full-time on the rolls of a company. Most companies have stringent rules that prohibit employees from taking up external work, except with mutual agreement. However, new age companies like Swiggy and Cred have no problem with such behavior of their workers.
However, moonlighting can be existing anywhere, but the issue is more prevalent in IT companies. The problem came into the limelight when Wipro recently fired 300 of its full-time employees just because they were found indulging in the practice of moonlighting. Not only this, Wipro Executive Chairman Rishad Premji alleged that those Wipro employees were working part-time for the main rival companies, which is a morally unfair practice. During the Covid pandemic period, when business was at a standstill and people were being fired from jobs, many of them had to work in two or more places to earn their livelihood. It was a time for work from home (WFH) and people had enough privacy to work for anyone anytime. From there the practice of moonlighting started, which is now emerging as a big problem in the industry.
In the old times also, one had to search for a side income or a part-time job to increase the household income and it was not taken seriously. Now it’s just given a fancy name – Moonlighting. Since it is a time to show off, they started calling a side income job moonlighting, which looks like a very glamorous thing. There is a debate going on in the corporate world regarding moonlighting whether it is a wrong trend or the right step to pursue a moonlighting job. While Wipro’s Rishad Premji considers it a ‘criminal act’, Mohandas Pai, former Infosys director, feels what is not wrong if someone takes up some other work in his or her spare time to increase income. He asked – “If I want extra income, I will work on Saturday. They can’t stop me from doing this.”
Rishad Premji said in an event of All India Management Association (AIMA) in New Delhi recently that employees can have a transparent dialogue with the company for their second or weekend work, but working secretly for our rival companies cannot be tolerated. In one of his tweets, he called Moonlighting outright fraud with the parent company. He wrote in the tweet – Moonlighting is cheating – plain and simple. Earlier, Infosys had sent a warning email to its employees that those found indulging in moonlighting would be severely punished and could even be fired. N Ganapathy Subramaniam, COO of Tata Group’s largest software services company, TCS, has opined that moonlighting can cause huge losses to IT companies in the long term. That is why this practice is ethically wrong.

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