Reasons behind the sudden shout around moonlighting

In its simplest terms, Moonlighting refers to having a second job or assignment outside regular business hours. Typically, it is a well-accepted concept in the western geographies, wherein organizations have laid out policies and processes around dual employment.

As far as India is concerned, some employment laws prohibit dual employment, while some at the state level stay silent on the topic. Generally speaking, an employee can moonlight if the employment letter does not forbid two jobs and there is no non-compete clause. However, culturally we see it more like two-timing.

In India, moonlighting hasn’t been a phenomenon till the recent gift of the Hybrid working environment. Before this, moonlighting was restricted to sectors like IT & Healthcare.

COVID and the resultant Work from Home, coupled with layoffs, pay cuts, and time saved from travel, introduced a more extensive set of professionals to a new friend on the block, “Moonlighting.” While several people utilized their free time after work and took up their hobbies and interests, others started looking for part-time assignments to upgrade their skills, learn more or increase their earnings. Moonlighting among employees has been witnessing a spike ever since.

We might witness a complete shift in the opinion of Moonlighting in times to come.

As of today, employers need to protect their interests by making the contract more watertight if that’s the need of their business, as moonlighting can easily foray into critical data risk and business information loss to competition. At the same time, professionals pursuing their passions via this route must check their terms of employment, declare to their employer before they take this road, and ensure no conflict of interest and productivity is not impacted.

We have seen Swiggy formalizing moonlighting. We will see the corporate space transforming, especially with hybrid working and 4 Day work weeks being explored as ways to attract and retain talent amid the wave of Great Resignation. Proper regulation, structure, and processes would need to be in place before this seamlessly becomes part of our work environment. Also, its acceptance and applicability will be very industry, skill-set-specific, and one size will only fit some.

— Anita Verma, Vice President Human Resources, Clove Dental

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