The online convenience platform Swiggy triggered a debate recently when it announced the industry-first moonlighting policy. Moonlighting (aka side hustle, side job, side gig and more) is working a second job after the business hours (usually in the night, when the moon shines, hence the name) to supplement the income or pursue a passion. Says Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT, “Companies should not pin their employees and put a lid on their dreams. They should be allowed to work with no restrictions, subject to a contract agreement that cannot be violated.”
In August 2022, came the announcement of Swiggy about its policy to permit moonlighting. Moonlighting which permits one to take up other jobs along with the existing one. This announcement led to long debates across all the sectors with IT sector being no exception.1Though IT giants like Wipro, HCL Tech, TCS to name a few considered moonlighting against their policies, Infosys came up with an initiative to institutionalize gig work outside their day work and with the prior consent of their immediate boss.
Gig Gains Prominence
Amidst quick digital adoption and increase in projects for technology based firms, one of the trends that has gained prominence is the gig work. Gig economy refers to free-market arrangement where there is a preference for independent freelancers against full time-workers. 2As of June 2022, 47% medium skilled jobs are involved in gig work as compared to 22% and 31% in high skilled and low skilled jobs respectively. According to a survey, it is expected that by 2024, the gig sector in India would witness a growth of over $ 400 billion.
Did Work-from-Home catalyze the trend?
Remote working, thanks to the advent of Covid-19, helped in getting rid of long commutes and bringing in comparatively flexible work schedules. Further, this sudden shift had some initial hiccups like non uniform work diaries and lean periods, thus providing the interested parties the bandwidth for taking up gig work in contrast with what was the case before the pandemic where the physical attendance in the office served the role of a mental firewall.
Concerns of Companies across All Sectors
3The Indian Law does not put any restraint about moonlighting except for The Factories Act, 1948 which prohibits parallel employment. “Most of the companies today enter into written agreements with clauses of exclusivity, conflict of interest and the lay onus on serving only one employer at a given time”, says Pooja Ramchandani, Partner of Employment Law at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co.
Organizations are seeking options for defenses in terms of
- Violation of confidentiality
- Unauthorized data access and bad governance
- Misuse of Intellectual Property
“Lucidity in the employment contracts and complete transparency would go a long way in bringing down disputes on one hand and foster harmonious industrial relations on the other”, says P. V. Ramana Murthy, Head of Employment and Labour Laws2.
In 2022, Infosys took a progressive move towards gig working and is striving to frame policies for regularization of gig work which would go a long way in bring about transparency on one hand and employee reskilling by providing them with opportunities to work on internal gigs on the other, not to forget the benefit of reduced employee attrition. The policy aims at the following:
- Better control: Encourage employees to declare gig work and allow internal gig postings.
- Job redesign: Identification of roles that provide scope to accommodate external gigs.
As has been touted by C.P. Gurnani, companies in order to stay relevant, need to adapt to this disruption in the way they operate. Having an empathic stance and regularization of gig work would reduce the instances of employees going secretive and would decrease the probability of leakage of sensitive information and cases of conflict of interest. All this needs consensus building rather than hierarchical power.
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“IT companies’ lenience towards side jobs is the after-effect of attrition bite.” Agree? Why?
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- Jochelle Mendonca – From sharpening skills to….-ET Bureau, October 30, 2022,
- Niti Ayog Report
- Srinath Sridharan, Is Moonlighting The New….Business World, 29, September, 2022,