While Moonlighting, a practice that employees undertake a secondary job without their employer’s knowledge, continues to be the center of debate in India, companies are split – some accept the practice and create relevant policies, others consider it to be unethical and establish countermeasures. However, HR professionals should be careful with either of the approaches as the laws are not explicit on this issue.
For companies which decided to allow moonlighting, it’s critical to distinguish “moonlighting” from “conflict of interest”, which is prohibited by the Indian Contract Law. For instance, Infosys requires any employee who wishes to take up gig work to receive a consent of their manager and BP/HR, and “in their personal time and for establishments that do not compete with Infosys or its clients.” However, it would be difficult for HRs to identify who the moonlighters work for and when they work without. To help avoid any misunderstanding, employers should clearly define “moonlighting” and its application and restrictions in employment contract and relevant policy.
In contrast, some companies consider any form of engaging in a second job is a violation of terms of employment and created a risk of conflict of interest. Those employers try to establish counter-measures such as enhancing remote workplace surveillance, auditing tax data, strengthening background verification, monitoring long-term absenteeism, and penalizing employees who have taken on a side job without prior approval. However, HR professionals need to ensure compliance to relevant laws and regulations when such measures are put in place.
HRPI Outlook: moonlighting is likely to stay in a cost-conscious business environment in India. While employers establish policies and measures on this issue, the priorities should be competitive compensation for the employees and maintaining an engaged work environment.