Explain the concept of Moonlighting. In light of the recent concerns raised by the IT sector over the practice of ‘moonlighting’, discuss the reasons behind the practice and possible solutions.

Moonlighting is the act of working at an extra job beyond regular working hours, usually without the knowledge of the employer.

Moonlighting is not a new concept:

  • We may remember some of our teachers, who worked in the school from 9 am to 5 pm and provided tuition to kids in the evenings or on weekends.
  • Doctors who work full-time in private hospitals may also occasionally do part-time private practice at home.

Why people do moonlighting:

  • Low salaries and incentives are not enough to maintain life standards.
  • The demand-supply equation is in favour of employers in many sectors.
  • Moonlighting is a source of gaining extra profits.
  • Developing new skills.
  • Many universities abroad consider such side projects as valuable.

Why increased recently:

  • Moonlighting has become a topic of debate in the IT industry as working from home became the new normal during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is believed to have led to a rise in dual employment.
  • Financial insecurity during pandemic motivated a few categories of workers to get a second job.
  • Also the gig economy concept has gained greater legitimacy in recent years.

Concerns:

  • Indian IT firms are divided when it comes to moonlighting. For some, it’s unethical while others call it the need of the hour.
  • Potential conflicts of interest.
  • Reduced performance and productivity of employees due to overworking.
  • Misuse of employer’s resources.
  • Increased Absenteeism.
  • Concerns regarding data privacy.

Way forward:

There is no law that prevents dual employment. Moonlighting should be a choice unless it affects the efficiency and integrity of employees’ primary work duty.

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