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'No, moonlighting is not cheating': Ex-Infosys director Mohandas Pai disagrees with Wipro's Rishad Premji

'No, moonlighting is not cheating': Ex-Infosys director Mohandas Pai disagrees with Wipro's Rishad Premji

Pai said, "Employment is a contract between an employer who pays me for working for them for 'n' number of hours a day. During that time, I have to abide by their conditions. Now what I do after that time is my freedom, I can do what I want.”

Moonlighting refers to the practice of taking up other jobs and assignments while working full-time with an organisation. Moonlighting refers to the practice of taking up other jobs and assignments while working full-time with an organisation.

The recent comment by Wipro’s Executive Chairman, Rishad Premji, on moonlighting has sparked a debate in the IT sector about the practice. While Premji and many others consider moonlighting as “cheating, plain and simple”, IT sector veteran Mohandas Pai has a different point of view.

In a conversation with Business Today, Pai, who is a former director of IT giant Infosys, said, “No, moonlighting is not cheating.” He explained, “I would look at it from a different perspective. Employment is a contract between an employer who pays me for working for them for 'n' number of hours a day. During that time, I have to abide by their conditions, including client confidentiality, and I'm paid for that. At that time, I can't work for anybody else. Now what I do after that time is my freedom, I can do what I want.”

What is moonlighting and why do techies pursue it?

Moonlighting refers to the practice of taking up other jobs and assignments while working full-time with an organisation. Apart from the prospect of extra income, moonlighting also helps techies build profiles for better job prospects or higher education.

Also read: 'Moonlighting' divides IT sector; TCS COO N Ganapathy Subramaniam calls it 'ethical' matter

Are there any legal consequences of moonlighting?

Despite the ongoing debate on the matter, there is no overarching law explicitly explaining the legality or illegality of moonlighting by IT sector professionals. Bhagyashree Pancholy, an employment law practitioner and General Counsel at LANO GmbH told Business Today, “Moonlighting is a very ambiguous concept.”

“The Indian Factories Act restricts double employment but mostly IT sector employees do not fall in the ambit of this law,” she explained.

Pancholy highlighted, that although there aren't any specific laws preventing techies from moonlighting, but employers might add clauses to red light this practice in employment contracts. She said, “Similar jobs might breach confidentiality policies of the company. If the employment contract has any clause that especially prohibits moonlighting or taking up secondary employment then it definitely violates that as well.”

Also read: ‘Moonlighting’ is a double-edged sword! Beware of legal repercussions

What if you are caught moonlighting?

Pancholy further explained what would happen incase an employee is caught moonlighting. She said, “The company can press charges only if the employee violates the employment contract while moonlighting. Companies can only take action against employees if they have evidence that the employee has been moonlighting.”

She also said, “We haven't seen a lot of cases where companies have actively pursued judicial remedies against employees who have been caught moonlighting”

Pancholy concluded that the legal route might not be the best route to solve this issue. She noted, “I must say that legal remedy is not the most judicial course of action. The best way to deal with this is to manage the expectations of the employee.”

 

 

Published on: Aug 27, 2022, 10:26 AM IST
Posted by: Basudha Das, Aug 27, 2022, 10:17 AM IST