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Voices against dual employment; Warns staff of termination; But techies say diktat won't work

They say moonlighting is not a question of morality, it's about efficiency of a professional

Infosys formalizes moonlighting, allows staff to take up work with prior permission, say sources
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Infosys formalizes moonlighting, allows staff to take up work with prior permission, say sources

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Covid Consequence

- Job market still hot in Bengaluru

- Fears of US recession not bothering much

- Action against moonlighting not impacting employees

- IT cos unable detect moonlighting exactly

- Skilled staff are in commanding position

- They say moonlighting is not a question of morality, it's about efficiency of a professional

Bengaluru: In a stern warning, IT major Infosys has cautioned its employees against any form of moonlighting terming the practice against the job code and may lead to their termination.

In a strongly worded memo titled 'No Double Lives', Infosys said, 'dual employment is not permitted as per the Employee Handbook and the Code of Conduct.'

However, since the job market is still hot in Bengaluru despite fears of US recession, the IT giant's diktat is not going to affect moonlighting by its employees, it said.

The techies including those who are employed in the IT giant explain that until the work from home option is there, the Infy's diktat won't work. The startups and unicorns are heads over heels for talent and skilled professionals, they say.

"We can manage both the works. When it is not affecting their work, the respective companies should not have problem," a software professional maintained.

Importantly, Infosys in an email sent on September 12 defined moonlighting for the first time. According to the company, moonlighting is a practice of working on multiple assignments during or outside working hours. It has discouraged any form of dual employment.

This development has come after Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji in a tweet has disapproved such practice among employees.

"There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. This is cheating - plain and simple," he had tweeted.

Moonlighting as a practice has created a lot of furore among IT sector leaders with some approving it, while other vehemently opposing it.

During the pandemic, the Work from Home (WFH) option has enabled many employees to take short-term work assignment outside of their primary jobs. These have been done secretly without the approval of the employer.

Current job contract of most IT companies doesn't allow any form of outside work or assignment to taken up by its employees. However, many industry leaders have also supported this practice, saying that there is no harm in case of absence of conflict of interest. For instance, Tech Mahindra's MD & CEO CP Gurnani recently said that given a chance, he would make a moonlighting policy for his company.

Many startups are also encouraging such gig work with some with formal job structure for doing the same. Food delivery firm Swiggy has already introduced a moonlighting policy to let its employees take up external projects pro bono or for money, based on internal approvals. However, most IT firms are opposing this idea as they fear such moonlighting may lead to leakage of client confidential information, which can then cause severe legal and reputational risks.

Usually, enterprises outsourcing contract to IT firms make it sure that their business sensitive information stays safe with the outsourcing firm.

Meanwhile, employee forums are opposed to the idea of such policy as many feel this is a breach of fundamental right of an employee. "Employees have contract to work with Infosys for 9 hours only. What the employees do outside working hours is their prerogative. The article 21 of Constitution of India has provided Right to livelihood to every citizen. Hence, such emails sent to the employees is illegal and unethical," the Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES)- an employee forum- said.

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