Swiggy and Zomato allowed it; Infosys detested it and now Wipro has fired over 300 employees because of it! Moonlighting AKA handling two jobs at once emerged as a rising trend as more and more people worked from home during the pandemic.
For some, handling a side job other than the primary one can be an additional source of income. But company executives are getting concerned for moonlighting can affect their employees' productivity or even allow employees to work under competitors. Last month, Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji was quoted referrring to moonlighting as "cheating, plain and simple". He and his company have ensured that they stand strong with this claim as the recent firing were all related to employees leading "double lives".
Is it legal to "moonlight" in India?
In situations regarding dual jobs, the company's internal laws and code of conduct should obviously be considered. But when it comes to the state, the situation is more complicated.
The Factories Act (1948), Section 60 states that dual employment is restricted in India. However, each state has its own Shop and Establishments Act, prescribing rules which may change from state to state. Even then, most of these local acts have limitations regarding dual employment.
To quote Section 9 from Shops and Establishments Act, Delhi,
Then there's Section 65 from Shops and Establishments Act, Mumbai:
In many cases, IT firms are exempted from some sections of the aforementioned Acts, including dual employment. Basically, the firms get considerable leeway to exercise their own steps regarding employment status.
What is the status of moonlighting in other countries?
In America, the fine print prevents handling dual jobs only for federal employees. There are no other legal clauses that explicitly prohibit moonlighting but yet again, it all depends on every company's own non-competition clauses.
But if compared with Asian countries like Japan that are known for a stricter work culture, the threat of getting fired for moonlighting seems to be higher in such countries (even though a global statistical comparison is yet to be done). Given the financial pressure caused by the pandemic, the air sector in Japan still got more lenient with budget carrier Jetstar Japan and Japan Airlines allowing workers to balance multiple jobs as long as their productivity in the primary job is not affected.
Given the confusion and uncertainty around dual jobs in this era, it is yet to be seen whether any national moonlighting-centric policy would come up in such nations.