How to safely moonlight with your primary job?

Moonlighting has become increasingly common in Indian IT firms of late. Workers seem to like it, even though most organizations frown upon it. This is a controversial topic, so let's dive into it. Taking on a second job after regular business hours is referred to as moonlighting.

Moonlighting has become a common practice among Indian white-collar professionals due to the work-from-home (WFH) operating model, which has caused compliance issues among companies. This has also led to a debate regarding whether the gig economy will survive. Swiggy recently announced an industry-first 'Moonlighting policy' that allows employees, under certain circumstances, to work on other projects after work hours.

It appears that moonlighting has divided traditional tech companies and new-age ones, despite the idea reflecting the changing nature of white-collar jobs. Rishad Premji, Wipro chairman, called the concept cheating days after Swiggy announced it. During the Covid-19 pandemic, several employees in the IT industry took on parallel gigs to earn extra money, but most traditional companies in India prohibit external work for commercial reasons.

While talking about the U.S., 1 in 17 Americans (or about 8 million people) currently work multiple jobs, and these numbers will rise in the next two decades. This data is projected by the U.S. Department of Labor. The report also states that there are moonlighters from every demographic group, but the majority are married, Caucasian, and in their 30s and 40s. States in the Midwest have the most moonlighters, while those in the southeast like Florida and Georgia have the least.

What is Moonlighting?

The practice of moonlighting involves working part-time outside of regular work hours. The majority of Indian companies prohibit employees from taking on additional jobs due to concerns about conflicts of interest, job performance, or misuse of company resources. A person may earn extra money by working nights at another job in addition to working a normal 9-to-5 job. Private business employees may be subject to any policies the company has regarding moonlighting. In some organizations, employees are not allowed to work additional jobs, whereas, in others, it's not an issue.

Kotak Institutional Equities surveyed 400 IT and ITeS professionals in July and found that 65% knew of people moonlighting at home or pursuing part-time positions. As a result, back-to-office plans of companies are also being scuttled. 42% of respondents to the Kotak survey said they would consider changing jobs if they were not allowed to work from home. It was found that an IT employee was working for seven companies at the same time. One of the firms caught him when its HR managers discovered the employee had multiple active PF accounts.

How to swiftly Moonlight with lesser risk?

Multitasking can be exhausting and challenging - some moonlighters work up to 80 hours per week. Moonlighting can be a good, low-risk compromise when compared to dropping everything to pursue your dream job. Most employers won't expect you to devote 100 percent of your time to them, so a job that provides a steady paycheck, health benefits, and retirement benefits makes sense while you pursue your passion.

Moonlighters pursuing side gigs while on the clock for their regular jobs may not be illegal, but it is certainly unethical. Hence, please be sure to fulfill all of the duties that were assigned to you. Besides, we have some additional tips if you are thinking about moonlighting:
  1. Be sure about your main employer's policies Check with your primary company to see if there are any restrictions on holding outside jobs.

  2. Never Use Company Resources Your company-issued laptop, phone, or other devices should never be used for side projects. You should never use your company's email or chat to discuss your side projects.

  3. Consider a Trial basis It is usually better to moonlight in small doses to accomplish some short-term goals than to work multiple jobs for long periods.

  4. Reduce Commutation Gap You should look for jobs that are close to each other or to your home. The time you have for your second job will be limited enough without adding a long commute.

  5. Cut Down Your Load It's probably time to cut back on extracurricular activities if you work multiple jobs.

  6. New Profile You can use the name of a family member in any document or your online profile. Ideally, this would be a family member who doesn't have to lose their jobs due to moonlighting, such as a retired parent or stay-at-home mother.

  7. Different Account Make sure you use a different bank account if possible. It is even better to use a non-working family member's bank account, which will also benefit you in terms of income tax.

  8. Keep a Secret Your office colleagues should never know about your side hustle. It doesn't matter how close you are. You should always keep your other job a secret.

Can someone get fired because of Moonlighting?

According to HR professionals and legal experts, courts have previously allowed employers to terminate an employee for moonlighting. It is illegal to double-employ under the Factories Act. The law, however, does not apply to IT companies in many states.

In some cases, moonlighting may not pose a major threat to employers, but if it starts to affect the business, disciplinary action needs to be taken. When employers should act: when moonlighting is against the company's policy, when moonlighting is shifting towards daylighting, when a second job may be illegal when it affects the employee's productivity when it involves data leaks.

Why are IT firms against moonlighting?

The view of Rishad Premji on moonlighting is shared by many business leaders. It is concerned that the employee may disclose sensitive or proprietary information to a competitor or work with a competitor. Moreover, companies worry that an overworked employee will lose productivity at their primary job. It is also not appreciated by employers when employees use company resources like laptops and software for their side gigs.

Why are people taking second jobs?

There is no doubt that the current global economic downturn is the worst since World War II. Almost every business has a plan to deal with difficult times. It is uncommon for a regular employee to have a strategy in place for such occurrences. In a failing economy, layoffs can occur quite frequently. However, moonlighting isn't always about earning a few extra dollars. In any case, let's examine why people take on a second job.

  1. Some people are more concerned with following their passion than with making money. It may not always be financially rewarding to pursue your passion. In other words, you have to take a day job during the day and be a DJ at night. Even though a passion project might not be very lucrative right away, it might help you in the long run. Thus, moonlighting allows you to pursue your passions without worrying about losing your main source of income.

  2. It's common for people to take on a second job as a backup when they are unsatisfied with their current job. There is a shortage of staff and a loss of revenue at the moment in many companies. In consequence, those who have been able to keep their jobs are routinely forced to work long hours without any additional compensation. New research suggests that workers aged 45 and older may suffer the most from global unemployment because of the epidemic's exacerbated effects. So, this is like having a Plan B for a secured future.

  3. The idea of having multiple income sources is always a good one. It can be a side business or investment that generates passive income for some people. Nevertheless, for some, it is a second job. Moonlighting is probably popular because of the possibility of making extra money.

  4. The COVID-19 pandemic caused heavy job losses in India and throughout the world. Coronavirus is not considered a major health emergency, but things aren't getting better. Financial analysts forecast an unstoppable recession, which will only worsen the job market problems. The moonlighting industry is helping people pay off their debt. They may have taken out a home loan before the pandemic, or bought a laptop or a car. They manage to pay for it by working a second job.

  5. A second job can sometimes be taken up by people planning to change careers. The flexibility to pursue side jobs or freelancing opportunities in whatever field you choose is what makes this type of work so attractive. It is common for people to moonlight for a side job that provides the experience they need to later obtain lucrative employment in the sector they are passionate about if they don't already work in it.

  6. Many people work at mundane jobs solely to gain financial security. As daily life prevents people from utilizing their creativity, they use a side job to keep their minds engaged and stay on top of their game. There are times when taking on a part-time second job can ignite your creative side. It might be difficult to come up with new ideas or methods of doing things without that obstacle.

Is it legal?

An individual is not prohibited from working more than one job under any overarching law. A person with similar jobs, however, can spark a breach of confidentiality issue - many companies have confidentiality clauses in their employment agreements along with a restriction on multiple employment. As a result of the work-from-home scenario, employees can work two jobs, but this may conflict with their employment agreements and internal norms, depending on their work nature.

How can one get caught?

Carelessness and overconfidence appear to be the main reasons why most of these employees get caught. There are a few basic red flags to look for: hiding information about the current employer on social media or using the same laptop or another organizational tool for moonlighting or depositing freelance money into the same bank account.

Moonlighting Clause

Employers must take measures to protect their interests and ensure that their employees give their full attention to their current jobs. Moonlighting Clauses are one such measure used by employers. In a moonlighting clause, an employee is prohibited from working both full-time and part-time. Therefore, it prevents an employee from taking on another job while employed by another employer. The act of moonlighting refers to holding another job during work hours. The purpose of adding it to an employment contract is to help employees focus only on their current job and work efficiently. Moonlighting clauses must be added and signed with both employer and employee's consent.


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