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Moonlighting in India: Meaning, Legal Implications, Impact, and Verification Methods

Moonlighting in India

Table of Contents

Introduction to Moonlighting:

Moonlighting refers to the practice of holding a secondary job or responsibilities, typically unknown to one’s primary employer, often performed during off-hours like nights or weekends. This term gained popularity as employees started to seek additional employment beyond their regular day jobs to increase their income.

Why is Moonlighting not a good thing for employers?

Moonlighting presents several challenges for employers, often making them wary of this practice for various reasons:

  1. Decreased Productivity: Employers are concerned that employees who work multiple jobs may not perform optimally in their primary roles. Fatigue from balancing more than one job can lead to reduced energy and focus, which can adversely affect productivity and the quality of work.
  1. Conflict of Interest: There’s a risk that moonlighting could lead to situations where an employee’s secondary job conflicts with the interests of their primary employer. This could be direct, such as working for a competitor, or indirect, where the employee may inadvertently share sensitive information or insights that could benefit their secondary employer.
  1. Divided Loyalties: Employers might worry that employees who moonlight may not be fully committed or loyal to their primary job. This divided attention can lead to prioritization issues, where employees may favor their secondary employment over their main job responsibilities.
  1. Impact on Team Dynamics: If an employee is regularly tired or less engaged due to their commitments elsewhere, it can affect not only their own performance but also the morale and productivity of the entire team. This can create additional strain on colleagues who may have to compensate for the decrease in productivity.
  1. Availability Issues: Moonlighting can lead to scheduling conflicts, especially if the secondary job requires similar working hours or if unexpected demands arise from the other role. This can make it difficult for employers to rely on the employee for overtime or to cover shifts, which is particularly problematic in roles that require a high degree of flexibility.
  1. Legal and Ethical Concerns: There can be legal implications if the moonlighting activity violates non-compete clauses or confidentiality agreements. Ethically, employers may question whether an employee can impartially handle responsibilities if they are engaged in similar work elsewhere.
  1. Resource Drain: When employees are overstretched, they might use the resources from their primary job to support activities for their secondary job, whether that’s time, materials, or intellectual property. This can lead to losses and ethical breaches for the primary employer.

Legality of Moonlighting in India:

Legal Position of Moonlighting in India As previously stated, there is no explicit law in India that addresses moonlighting. However, it might be subject to legal repercussions under many statutes, including the Employment Contract Act, the Shops and Establishments Act, and the Industrial Disputes Act.  The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, of 1946 permits dual employment. Whereas under the Factories Act, of 1948, dual employment is prohibited. Under the Factories Act of 1948, an employer cannot require or let an adult employee work in the factory on days when they have already worked in another workplace. The prohibition provided by the Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions (OSH) Code is restricted to simultaneous employment in a mine or factory and is largely equivalent to the one outlined in the Factories Act.

Consequences of Going Against Company Clause of Moonlighting: The consequences of going against a company clause prohibiting moonlighting can vary depending on the specific terms of the contract and the laws applicable in the jurisdiction where the employer is based. However, some common consequences include:

Disciplinary action: The employer may take disciplinary action against the employee, which may include a warning, suspension, or termination of the contract.

Legal action: If the breach of contract happens, the employer may choose to take legal action against the employee.

Damages: If the employer can demonstrate that the employee’s moonlighting activities have caused harm to the company, they may be able to claim damages.

Reputation damage: Going against a company clause can damage the employee’s reputation and may have negative consequences for their future employment prospects.

It is important to note that the specific consequences of going against a company clause prohibiting moonlighting will depend on the laws and regulations applicable in the jurisdiction where the employer is based, and the terms of the employment contract. An employee should seek legal advice before engaging in the concept of moonlighting activities if their employment contract contains a clause prohibiting such activities.

Moonlighting Policy for Employees:

Developing a Moonlighting Policy for Employees in India:

The topic of moonlighting has recently come under the spotlight in India, especially among leading corporations. There remains a significant debate around the ethical and legal dimensions of moonlighting, leading to varied stances among companies.

Role of HR in Moonlighting Policies:

It is primarily up to each company’s Human Resources department to establish a clear policy regarding moonlighting. This results in diverse policies across the corporate spectrum. Some companies have already implemented specific guidelines, while others are in the process of defining their stance.

Common Trends in Moonlighting Policies:

Most businesses tend to restrict their employees from engaging in work with competing organizations. This is a widespread measure to prevent conflicts of interest. Moreover, companies that haven’t yet formalized a separate moonlighting policy often address the issue by incorporating a clause against dual employment directly into their employment contracts.

How to Find Out if an Employee Is Moonlighting?

Companies can know if an employee is moonlighting and working for its competitors using their Universal Account Number (UAN) of the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). Companies can access an employee’s UAN number to get to know if two PF contributions are being made by different companies. When two PF contributions are being made simultaneously to a UAN, it is a clear indication of moonlighting by the employees.

Wipro fired 300 employees for moonlighting by tracking the EPF accounts maintained under the UANs. However, it isn’t easy to find moonlighting by an employee when he/she takes up additional work as a consultant, freelancer or part-time since an employer does not make the PF contribution for such work.

However, companies may start deploying new-age technology to track devices given to employees solely for office work and get to know when an employee uses it to do another company’s work. They may also hire a third-party agency for background checks to find out about moonlighting by an employee.

Detecting Employee Moonlighting

Businesses can ascertain whether their employees are engaged in moonlighting, especially with competitors, by monitoring their Universal Account Number (UAN) associated with the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). By examining an employee’s UAN, companies can detect dual PF contributions from separate employers, which is a clear sign of moonlighting.

Instances of Monitoring:

For instance, Wipro terminated 300 employees who were found moonlighting by monitoring the EPF accounts linked to their UANs. Detecting moonlighting becomes challenging when employees engage in freelance, consultancy, or part-time roles that do not require PF contributions by the employer.

Preventive Measures by AuthBridge:

AuthBridge leverages AI technology to effectively address and manage dual employment dilemmas, crafting a strategic blend of tactics for our clients and their HR teams. Our platform offers seamless workflows and minimizes data loss, enhancing the speed and efficiency of employment verification processes.

Our Dual Employment Verification Approach:

Our method involves using the UAN to conduct non-invasive employment verification, ensuring accurate results quickly and efficiently. AuthBridge’s system is designed to be data-centric and precise. Upon obtaining an employee’s UAN, we commence verification to confirm there is no concurrent employment during the client’s tenure. If dual employment is detected, the situation is immediately flagged.

Details Verified in Our UAN Checks Include:

  • Employee’s Name
  • Father’s/Husband’s Name
  • Employing Organization
  • Date of Joining
  • Date of Exit

Technological Advantages with AuthBridge:

  • Streamlined integrations through simple dashboards and APIs
  • Real-time background checks that optimize time efficiency
  • Customization of workflows to suit specific client and industry needs
  • Cost-effective solutions driven by a robust database
  • Elimination of manual processes
  • Secure digital data handling compliant with industry standards
  • Detailed and swift reporting to facilitate quicker hiring decisions

AuthBridge’s CEO on Moonlighting:

“A person can have multiple employees crediting PF into the same PF account. Many companies don’t run dual-employment verification for their employees. They will conduct a basic background screening,” said Ajay Trehan, founder and CEO of AuthBridge.“The only logical explanation is she must have been running a mini BPO setup at her home with multiple terminals and enrolled people to work on a project basis. We only run a check on PF credentials for dual employment.“

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moonlighting in india: AuthBridge CEO, Ajay Trehan words on the current insights and industry trends related to dual employment

Recent Developments in Corporate Moonlighting Policies

Wipro’s Stance:

Wipro’s CEO, Rishad Premji, recently labeled moonlighting as unethical, equating it to cheating. This strict viewpoint led to the termination of 300 employees found working for competitors, highlighting the company’s zero-tolerance policy against moonlighting.

IBM’s Approach:

IBM has also issued warnings to its workforce regarding moonlighting. The company has made it clear that such practices are not acceptable, reinforcing the policy to ensure that employees dedicate their professional energies solely to IBM.

TCS’s Approach:

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has voiced concerns over moonlighting, declaring it a matter of ethics and in direct contradiction with the company’s values and culture. TCS emphasizes integrity and full-time commitment from its employees, discouraging any form of dual employment.

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