InvestorQ : Why has Infosys come out so hard on moonlighting and what exactly is that?
Chandralekha Desai made post

Why has Infosys come out so hard on moonlighting and what exactly is that?

NISHA Nayak answered.
12 months ago

That is the latest trend in the IT sector called “Moonlighting”. Don’t get confused by the uniqueness of the term, it is actually awfully simple. Moonlighting basically means to allow employees to take up short term gigs even when they are already employed with a major company in India. The idea is to treat employees as consultants and this stemmed up during the pandemic when most of the employees were working from home. Now it has become a highly controversial subject with Rishad Premji and Infosys coming out against it.

The reasons are obvious why the companies are not happy. Here moonlighting refers to employees taking more than one job at a time and that is not making employers happy. There are legitimate concerns over employee focus, utilization of time, commitment and above all issues of confidentiality when the employee is on mission critical projects. Infosys Ltd became the first IT company to red flag and warn employees against moonlighting but earlier Rishad Premji had called this practice unethical in one of his interviews.

Infosys recently circulated a mail to employees underscoring that dual employment or “moonlighting” was strictly not permitted. Infosys cautioned employees that moonlighting amounted to violation of the employment contract. Obviously, this could trigger disciplinary action by the company, even leading to termination of employment. In addition, as Infosys pointed out, such actions were also in strict violation of the employee code of conduct. Employees of Infosys can neither take up other temporary jobs or permanent jobs.

Infosys believes that irrespective of the term used to describe such activities, it amounted to accepting dual employment. That was clearly in contravention of the employee code of conduct applicable at Infosys. In the last 2 years, many employees had apparently indulged in moonlighting when it was not possible for companies to keep a tab as they were working from home. Now the companies want to curb that practice, now that they are back at the offices. However, unions have not been too happy with this mail sent by Infosys.

The Pune based union of IT employees (NITES) condemned the email sent by Infosys to employees, but the arguments of the union looks fairly inane. NITES feels that moonlighting was not feasible due to Aadhar and PAN linked universal account number (UAN). Most IT employees moonlight informally, so that argument by NITES is again quite inane. After all, if moonlighting was really impossible as NITES claimed, then big IT companies like Infosys and Wipro would not be losing sleep over it. Clearly, IT folks cannot have the cake and eat it too.