Minister of State for IT supports employees on moonlighting, says efforts to stop it are ‘doomed to fail’

Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the practice only shows that employees are bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, while maintaining that they should abide by contractual obligations.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Saturday, September 24, 2022, 03:05 PM IST
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Rajeev Chandrasekhar |

The debate around moonlighting which started after Swiggy allowed its employees to hold second jobs on certain conditions, has turned into a full blown storm. Wipro’s Rishad Premji, who equated the practice to cheating, has fired 300 employees who were caught working for their rivals at the same time. Infosys and IBM have also warned staff of similar consequences for moonlighting, labelling it as two-timing and calling it unethical. Now everyone from CEOs of global firms to politicians have jumped in to share their two cents on the matter.

Minister backs employees

The latest among these is Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Union Minister for Electronics and IT, as well as Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The BJP leader referred to moonlighting as employees consulting for other firms, and told the Economic Times that efforts by IT companies to stop that are bound to fail. According to Chandrasekhar, moonlighting represents employees bitten by the “entrepreneurial bug” as well as a demand for talent, and companies trying to stop them have failed to understand the changing model.

More voices for moonlighting

Former director of Infosys and a veteran of the IT sector, Mohandas Pai had earlier said that moonlighting is not cheating, and has now called it a fact of life. He added that tech work can now be divided into manageable tasks which employees can finish in a few hours, and technology itself has facilitated a global gig economy.

The practice of having a side hustle or another job gained traction during the lockdown when employees facing pay cuts and uncertainty sought freelance work and second jobs to cash in on the extra time on their hands. Working from home gives them the privacy to work two jobs simultaneously, but IT firms are afraid it hampers productivity and puts sensitive data at risk.

Microsoft CEO advises against spying on staff

Responding to concerns expressed by IT firms in India against moonlighting, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told companies not to spy on employees to see if they are working. He cited a Microsoft study showing that while 85 per cent managers are afraid employees aren’t doing enough, 87 per cent employees feel they are productive and even feel burnt out.

Referring to the fear among managers about who they consider ‘idle workers’, Nadella coined the term ‘productivity paranoia’.

Another top tech executive who supported moonlighting was CP Gurnani of Tech Mahindra, who said that it’s ok for employees to earn extra from side jobs, as long as they aren’t committing fraud.

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