What is Moonlighting? Decoding the Moonlighting Debate

Published On
September 28, 2023
Read Time
4 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

The term moonlighting has been doing rounds since the news of Wipro firing 300 employees caught the business world’s attention. Due to the rise of employees choosing to moonlight nowadays, employers face various issues and, in some cases, wonder what they can do to deal with this concern.

If you’re looking for more information on moonlighting and its ramifications for employers, this article is for you.

What is moonlighting?

In the simplest terms, moonlighting is working a second job outside regular business hours. It is usually done secretly and at night, allowing employees to earn additional money by working at other jobs that are not always in the same place. Employees, especially tech professionals, who work for private companies may be subject to policies regarding moonlighting. Some organizations have strict guidelines against employees doing this, while others don’t consider it illegal. Though there are diverse opinions on the ethics behind moonlighting, it’s undoubtedly a severe issue that managers should be concerned about and aware of.

Moonlighting during remote work

Recent research highlights a hike in the number of moonlighters during the pandemic, as many chose the option to meet their financial deadlines or liabilities. Several employees continued to moonlight despite the pandemic subsiding. As they worked from home, it became easier for employees to do a second job without their employers’ knowledge. When the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak happened, the newspapers were filled with the topic of unemployment owing to companies that laid off numerous employees. This unfortunate circumstance led to people looking for multiple jobs to maintain their job security and steady income.

Although it’s not a significant issue for some employers, managers should still monitor the activities of the employees and take disciplinary action if they start to see signs of misconduct. Some aspects you should consider while implementing policies on moonlighting are: checking if it’s against the company’s policy, finding out whom the employee is working for, whether moonlighting affects the employee’s productivity, and if it can lead to the leakage of confidential information. The last scenario can happen if the individual is working for a business that is your competitor.

Does moonlighting imply declining employee commitment?

Due to the increasing number of job portals and the availability of various forms of income, many employees are now resorting to multiple jobs. Employees could be doing it to earn more, pay off their debts, or improve their skills.

Although it’s generally allowed for employees to work from home or, in some cases, moonlight, employers have a right to be aware of these commitments. Even if an organization has an anti-moonlighting policy, it can be hard to enforce this rule when employees work entirely different/ unrelated jobs.

Moonlighting can be an actual threat to companies when there is a lack of commitment from the employees. Which in turn, causes a few burdens to the company, such as:

Inappropriate use of company resources

It can be problematic when the company resources are utilized by the moonlighter for their secondary job, thereby limiting productivity. This can include using laptops or other gadgets provided by the company, accessing the office’s fast internet connection, etc.

Increased absenteeism

Working too many hours can negatively affect an employee’s health. It can make them feel lethargic. Employees gradually burden the company with too many leave applications and medical needs.

Performance depletion

When employees get too much on their minds, it adversely affects their work performance. Moonlighters often exhibit a performance depletion in the company, causing a crisis.

Why are IT companies against moonlighting employees?

Wipro firing 300 employees who simultaneously worked for its competitors is a clear testimony to why several IT companies are against it. Meanwhile, certain companies have clear policies on moonlighting and check them from time to ensure it and avoid risks. However, this practice can be challenging to enforce since some states have enacted laws preventing employers from acting against moonlighting employees. When it comes to instigating policies that stop employees from working outside their regular work hours, employers must focus on areas related to legitimate business concerns.

While some industry veterans have been highly critical of moonlighting and its effects, a few, such as Tech Mahindra CEO C P Gurnani, argues that it is necessary to keep changing with the times. His tweet says that he’d welcome disruption in the ways we work. Mohandas Pai, a former director of Infosys, deduces a correlation between low entry-level salaries in the tech industry and moonlighting. He condemns the act of businesses underpaying their employees and later blaming them for involving in a second job. However, several IT sector experts and think tanks believe that returning to the office can ease the concerns surrounding the issue.

Some key reasons why most IT companies are against moonlighting employees are discussed below.

Decrease in Productivity

Multitasking often results in poor performance and diminished productivity. It’s believed that the rise of dual employment skyrocketed during the pandemic, leading more people to choose to moonlight.

Violation of integrity

There are several reasons, among which one primary reason is working for the competitors and sharing valuable data, which is a threat to the existence and functioning of these IT companies. This is a violation of integrity in the most profound form, and employers/ managers can’t afford employees cheating causing significant loss to the business.

Ethical dilemma

There can be an ethical dilemma for the CEOs of IT companies when there are moonlighting employees at the firm. At the same time, some managers want employees to be open about their secondary jobs. Hence, many tech companies have formulated policies and reminded employees to study their employment contracts before accepting a different position. They are instructed to be very clear with the moonlighting policies to avoid any risks in the near future.

Summing Up

Moonlighting needs to be taken care of by employers and managers alike. In addition to implementing various HR policies, such as performance appraisals and incentives, you may look for ways to improve the employees’ job satisfaction, such as by increasing their pay and recognition. This can help you avoid experiencing instances of moonlighting to an extent. These precautions can help you have a productive workforce.

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