Moonlighting

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    • Moonlighting has been a controversial topic in recent months after a few companies sacked their employees citing it as a reason. 

    More about Moonlighting

    • What is Moonlighting?
      • Moonlighting — or employees working for remuneration with entities other than their employers.
        • Moonlighting is neither new nor unusual
        • The practice has been around for a while with scores of professionals such as doctors, teachers, and consultants, routinely doing so for years. 
    • Reasons for surge in Moonlighting in recent years:
      • Upcoming work structure:
        • In the last few years, the prevalence of remote working, and hybrid work structures made it more mainstream in certain industries.
      • Pandemic changing the work dynamic:
        • During the pandemic, those with desk jobs had more time on their hands and thus it was easier to take on a few projects outside of work. 
          • A private study said that at least 60% of 400 employees surveyed said they themselves had or knew someone who had engaged in moonlighting.
      • The superfluous employers:
        • The dispensable attitude that many employers demonstrated during COVID-19 has led to an erosion of job loyalty among employees. 
        • Now more than ever, people are aware that organisations can give up on them, and that they must safeguard their own interests.
      • Skill enhancement:
        • For a lot of professionals, moonlighting has also become a way to upskill, learn new things, and ensure they don’t become redundant in their careers.
    • Indian companies reacting to moonlighting:
      • Wipro sacked 300 employees following the discovery that they were working for rival firms on the side, leading to a conflict of interest. 
      • Infosys has warned staff against moonlighting, saying it could lead to termination.
      • On the contrary, a few other companies like for example Swiggy announced a ‘moonlighting policy’ that allows employees “to pursue their passion for economic interests alongside their full-time employment.”
    • Issue:
      • Moonlighting in turn has raised larger questions about issues related to job loyalty, employee satisfaction, employer-employee dynamics, and the future of work in a post-pandemic world.

    Legalities concerning Moonlighting

    • Statute:
      • Moonlighting is not defined in any of the statutes in India.
      • However, there are enactments that deal with double employment. 
      • Factories Act on double employment:
        • Factories Act deals with restriction on double employment stating that “No adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in any factory on any day on which he has already been working in any other factory, save in such circumstances as may be prescribed”. 
        • However, this enactment is applicable only to employees working in factories.
    • Court judgments:
      • Moonlighting is subject to the law of the land. 
      • The sphere of employment cannot be extended by the employer beyond working hours and outside his place of employment, which is the principle laid down in the Supreme Court judgment. 
        • In other words, the employee can choose to arrange his affairs as he pleases beyond the working hours of the employer.
    • Punitive action against moonlighting:
    • Unless an employer is able to prove that an employee acted against the interest of the company, Courts may not uphold severe punishment of termination of employment.

    Way Ahead

    • The court jurisdiction:
      • The Courts of law in India dealing with employment are Writ Courts and Labour Courts. 
        • These Courts exercise jurisdiction based on equity or fairness. 
      • The Courts may lean in favour of the employee unless the contravention of the employee has led to serious prejudice and loss to the employer.
    • For employers:
      • Eventually, organisations need to understand that they don’t own all of their employees’ time, nor should they expect to. 
      • What they pay for are fixed work hours defined by targets, set out in contracts. 
    • Call for side gig:
      • Delineating clearly between side gigs for gainful employment versus projects that require data confidentiality, an ethical moonlighting policy could be an effective way for both employees and employers to meet midway.

    Gig Economy

    • About:
      • The gig economy is about individual workers carrying out tasks for clients through the intermediation of a platform attributing those tasks and taking care of the transfer of payment on a task-by-task basis.
    • Significance:
      • The gig economy is based on temporary, or freelance jobs, often involving connecting with clients or customers through an online platform
      • The gig economy can benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and the demand for flexible lifestyles.
        • Time flexibility: Workers operating in the gig economy are allowed to work any of the hours they desire.
        • Income flexibility: It is an increasingly attractive market due to the sheer flexibility that allows individuals to earn extra income.

    Platform Company

    • About:
      • A platform company is a business that creates foundational technology upon which other companies are born and scaled. 
      • Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Alibaba have used the model to grow exponentially and grab significant market share from established firms. 
      • Platforms represent a big change in the way industries have traditionally been organized.
    • Significance:
      • Platform companies offer flexibility and choice of labour to all workers in general, and women in particular, empowering them to monetise their idle assets when and where they want 
      • It makes them an attractive opportunity for women and persons with disabilities.
        • Women are more likely to take up platform jobs after their education and marriage.
    • India’s Gig Sector:
      • An estimated 56% of new employment in India is being generated by the gig economy companies across both the blue-collar and white-collar workforce.
      • The gig economy can serve up to 90 million jobs in the non-farm sectors in India with a potential to add 1.25% to the GDP over the “long term”.
      • As India moves towards its stated goal of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025, the gig economy will be a major building block in bridging the income and unemployment gap.

    Source: TH