Moonlighting is working a second job, typically outside one’s primary or full-time employment. It can entail freelance work, launching a side business, or taking on a part-time position at another company or organization. A common reason why people moonlight is to increase their income, develop new abilities, or explore interests in careers other than their major ones.
The idea of working at night while the moon is visible, as this would traditionally be outside of one’s regular working hours, gave rise to the phrase “moonlighting.”
In a poll of 400 IT and ITES employees done by Kotak Institutional Equities in July,2022- it was discovered that 65% of respondents knew of people who were “moonlighting” or performing two jobs while working from home.
In addition, 42% of poll respondents said they might change companies or quit their existing jobs if they weren’t allowed to work from home. But, again, it signifies a broader pattern in India, where businesses find recruiting and keeping elite employees challenging.
According to a Willis Towers Watson survey from 2022, 78% of businesses said it was challenging to find new hires, while 64% needed help keeping their current personnel.
The India Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022 by PwC found that 51% of employees in India said their employers did not offer them the technical or digital skills training they needed for their careers.
With 67% of workers saying that their profession requires specialized training and 54% strongly or moderately agreeing that India suffers from a scarcity of specific skill sets, the shortage of skilled people is another issue the country must address.
Instead of upskilling their current staff, employers are tackling this by raising wages, recruiting new employees, and automating processes.
Moonlighting in the IT industry
For various reasons, IT businesses may be against moonlighting. Competition with the principal employer is one of the main issues. Employees may be less invested in the success of their first employer if they hold a second job and may be more focused on it.
Additionally, there is a chance that private information will be disclosed to a different company, putting the principal employer at risk for things like data breaches and intellectual property theft.
Employer loyalty may also be a concern for businesses. If a worker moonlights, they might be more preoccupied with the side job and less preoccupied with their primary company.
Furthermore, suppose an employee works long hours outside their regular job. In that case, the employer can be concerned about burnout, resulting in decreased productivity, higher absenteeism rates, and a higher turnover rate.
Moreover, moonlighting can harm team chemistry and cause animosity among workers who perceive their co-workers as less dedicated to their jobs.
Moonlighting- the advantages
Moonlighting incentivises many professionals for multiple reasons that include:
Moonlighting can be advantageous for making additional income for several reasons.
First, it allows individuals to earn more than they would by working a single job alone.
For example, if someone works a full-time job that pays a certain amount but also has a part-time job or freelance gig on the side, they will earn more than they would by just working a full-time job. It can be especially beneficial for high expenses, such as large families or significant financial obligations.
Secondly, moonlighting allows individuals to have multiple income streams, which can help mitigate the risk of financial hardship if one job were to be lost. For example, imagine if someone’s primary job is in a field that is currently experiencing layoffs or downsizing. A secondary source of income can provide a safety net that can help ease the transition to another job or help them survive until another job is found financially.
Moonlighting allows individuals to explore different industries and job roles that they may be interested in but have yet to have the opportunity to experience in their primary job. For instance, someone who works in IT but has a passion for photography could pursue a freelance photography gig to gain experience and skills in that field.
Working multiple jobs or having multiple clients can expose individuals to different work environments and cultures. It, in turn, provides an opportunity to gain new insights and soft skills like communication, negotiation, adaptability, time management etc.
People can demonstrate their abilities, skills, and knowledge to a larger audience by taking on several jobs or clients. In addition, working on different projects and collaborating with different people enables the person to build a diverse portfolio of work that showcases their capabilities and experience.
Moonlighting presents an opportunity to establish a personal or professional brand through blogging, social networking, or creating a personal website. In addition, it can help people advance their job prospects, position themselves as experts in their industry, and develop a substantial audience interested in their ideas and work.
Moonlighting- the Disadvantages
Working many jobs or serving numerous clients can be time and energy-consuming. People who moonlight need to work more hours to finish their duties. As a result, one may have less free time and find it challenging to manage their time efficiently.
It leads to more time spent on work-related tasks like commuting, getting ready for work, and finishing paperwork, leaving less time for other critical activities like spending time with family, working out, and attending to personal duties.
People may need help to balance the demands of several professions, increasing their risk of burnout or tiredness.
The question of moonlighting being unethical has loomed over the IT industry for a minute. Ethical concerns over moonlighting can be categorized into four:
Conflict of interest: If an employee has a second job, they might be more preoccupied with it and less concerned with the success of their primary company. Additionally, there is a chance that sensitive information will be disclosed to a different company, putting the principal employer at risk for issues such as data breaches and intellectual property theft.
Impact on the primary job: When employees focus on two occupations, they risk burning out, neglecting their primary responsibilities, and ultimately lowering the calibre of their work. It could result in a drop in productivity, which would be bad for the company’s overall performance.
Fairness to other workers: When co-workers moonlight, other workers may grow resentful because they believe that these employees are not giving their jobs their all. It could result in a toxic work environment, which would lower employee morale and, ultimately, the company’s performance.
Legal and regulatory compliance: Some businesses and organizations may have policies and regulations forbidding moonlighting. In other circumstances, it might even be against the law, especially if the employee is bound by a non-compete clause or works in a sensitive profession.
As stated earlier, moonlighting is almost a guaranteed gateway to burnout. A heavier workload may result in more extended workdays and less spare time, which can be stressful and draining. In addition, employees who work multiple jobs may struggle to find the time to get enough rest, which can result in exhaustion and diminished mental and physical well-being.
They might struggle to balance work and personal obligations, which could cause stress and burnout. Employees with multiple jobs may find it challenging to concentrate on one task at a time, diminishing their productivity and effectiveness. Due to the intense stress and pressure of working several jobs, employees may also feel emotional weariness. As a result, they might experience exhaustion and burnout, which would lower their productivity and motivation.
Is Moonlighting Illegal in India?
Moonlighting has been a very divisive topic in the Indian tech scene.
On one side, you have the Human Resource head of Swiggy saying that the practice is indeed the “future of work”, with the company having dedicated policies allowing and defining how employees can engage in other lines of work.
On the other hand, there is the incident where the chairman of WIPRO tweeted, “There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. It is cheating – plain and simple.” The company also fired nearly 300 employees for the same.
In India, The Factories Act of 1948, the Bombay Shops Act of 1946 and the Delhi Shops Act of 1954 prohibit dual employment for factory and shop workers.
The OSH Code 2020 also limits dual employment to those working in a mine or factory.
The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules, 1946, states that workers shall not work against the interest of their employer or take a job that may adversely affect them.
The primary defence against moonlighting is the “implied exclusivity” associated with employment, which gives an employer the right to an employee’s talents and working hours. The factories Act, however, does not apply to IT companies in certain states.
What can companies do to reduce moonlighting?
Companies can take several steps to avoid and reduce moonlighting among their employees:
Clearly define and communicate company policies: Companies should have clear and explicit policies regarding moonlighting and communicate them to all employees. This will help ensure that employees understand the expectations and limitations of their employment.
Monitor employee performance: Companies can monitor employee performance through regular evaluations to identify any potential issues or concerns related to moonlighting.
Implement cybersecurity measures: Companies can protect their confidential information and intellectual property by monitoring employee access to company data and systems and implementing strict access controls.
Provide opportunities for career development: Companies can provide opportunities for employees to grow and develop within the company, such as by offering training and development programs, mentorship, and advancement opportunities.
Create a positive work-life balance: Companies can create a positive work-life balance by providing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options, and encouraging employees to take time off when needed.
Address the root causes: By understanding why employees may be inclined to engage in moonlighting, companies can address the root causes, such as financial insecurity, lack of career development, or lack of work-life balance.
Outsource operations: A major advantage of outsourcing is getting the job done for a fraction of the cost involved in maintaining in-house employees. Companies can reduce hiring more people and reallocate the finances to their current employees, providing more monetary incentives to stay loyal.
Encourage open communication: Companies can encourage open communication and be open to hearing employee feedback; this will help identify issues or concerns that might lead to moonlighting and address them promptly.
Conclusion- is moonlighting here to stay?
Moonlighting can benefit some people by providing additional income, flexibility in work hours, and opportunities to gain new skills. However, it can also negatively affect the employee, such as burnout, reduced productivity, and conflicts with the primary employer.
Moonlighting will continue to be present in some form, as it’s a way for some individuals to pursue their goals and aspirations. However, it’s also possible that companies and organizations may take more steps to address the practice and mitigate its risks.
Governments and other organizations might also introduce regulations that make it difficult for employees to moonlight.
Whether moonlighting is here to stay or end depends on the specific context, culture and regulations of a company and its sector. Whatever the future holds, employers and employees must weigh the pros and cons of the practice and make informed decisions about whether or not to engage in it.