Moonlighting- An Ethical Issue or Need of the Hour

Do you wonder what all the fuss is about when you hear the phrase “Moonlighting”? If so, let’s discuss moonlighting. Working for one company while simultaneously taking on extra responsibilities and jobs, usually without the knowledge of the primary employer, is known as Moonlighting. The so-called side jobs are typically completed on the weekends or after work. Although it may be a contentious issue, moonlighting has been rising since 1994.

According to Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), said: “The multiple job holding rate of 6.5 per cent in the June quarter was the highest seen across the 27-year series, and continued the rebound from the record low of 4.9 per cent in the June quarter of 2020.

Why do people Moonlight?

The main reason people moonlight is because of improving living standards, which leads people to take up a second job as a secondary source of income. Due to the pressure of expenses that they encounter, especially in today’s fast-paced economy, employees moonlight to supplement their source of income. In both developed and developing nations, it has been noted that holding secondary employment in addition to a primary one is a frequent practice.

People frequently feel that their principal employment doesn’t occupy all of their time, leaving them with lots of free time to pursue other passions. Because of their credentials or skill set, some people work in a particular field even when they would prefer to work in another.  To establish a portfolio or get a more permanent contract, they, accept freelance jobs in those fields.

However, as per the IT company, moonlighting garnered attention post-COVID-19 due to the shift to remote working. A remote worker may moonlight during work hours, which is bad for their output and productivity. It was the largest open secret in technology that people were already working two remote jobs at once. 

People moonlight to boost their income in many professions. Is it a good idea to moonlight? But before you take on a second job, let’s examine the pros and cons of holding a second job.

The Pros of Moonlighting:

  • Increased Income: The primary motivation for taking on more jobs is still to earn more money. And since many earnings have been frozen and gas prices and health insurance rates are rising, extra income can be a lifeline. In addition to the pay from a regular job, a busy moonlighter may make tens of thousands of dollars extra each year. The sum varies depending on the person’s abilities, the project’s demands, and the market’s going rate.
  • Security: Getting a second job gives people a safety net. Many people will seek a second job if they feel unsafe at their primary employment for any reason. When someone is uneasy about their current career, moonlighting is a fallback.  
  • Freedom & Enjoyment:  According to experts, having a second job or career might have psychological advantages, such as not being bound to one firm. A second job could remedy your boredom at your current employment. You may find it to be a creative outlet, feel more liberated, and even become more productive. You may be inspired to strive even harder to pursue your goals due to the new challenge. 
  • New Skills: One key factor that leads people to moonlight is learning new skills. If you’re thinking about switching careers but can’t take the plunge, taking a part-time job could be a way to test the waters or boost your entrepreneurial skills.  You can decide on your professional path and the skills you want to develop, and if one company doesn’t suit you well, you can join another. Accepting work that differs from your regular duties may force you to acquire new skills, enhancing your resume and skills in the process.
  • Networking: Working several jobs will surely lead you to meet new individuals from all walks of life and hence, establish new acquaintances. This can be a terrific way to broaden your social circle and network for personal and professional reasons.

The Cons of Moonlighting:

  • Company Policy: Many employers forbid employees from taking on additional employment beyond their usual position; if you are detected, you may be fired. To avoid jeopardising your main source of income, be careful while taking on a second job.
  • Company Resources: Individuals must make sure to work on their side projects “off-hours.” Working on anything other than your regular job during regular business hours is immoral and unjust to the employer who has made such a significant investment in the person. Furthermore, employees must make sure they never use business resources for their projects. Keep your personal and professional lives distinct by never reading or sending emails relating to your side hustle while you are working.
  • Burnout & Health: The impact on a person’s relationships and health is among the most prominent possible expenses of moonlighting. If your tasks are demanding or require odd hours, working several jobs might take its toll on your physical and mental health. Working nonstop can be detrimental to one’s relationships or health. 
  • Conflict of Interest: Focusing on multiple projects at once might lead to conflicts of interest, preventing staff from providing superior solutions as before and causing them to take precedence over other responsibilities. The performance of employees in their regular jobs must be protected from their additional work.
  • Performance Slippage: Your productivity will inevitably suffer when you’re working constantly under pressure from two companies while spreading yourself too thin. It’s not ideal since it might lead to below-par performance at both jobs, which would adversely affect the company.
  • Employer’s Insecurity: The employer will feel uneasy about his privacy and even that of the individual who works for him. A single error may cause the vital information of a firm to leak and a skilled employee might end up fired after just one bad day with the employer.

Is Moonlighting Ethical?

The IT sector is divided when it comes to moonlighting. Some call it unethical while others believe it is the need of the hour. Many industry leaders have joined Twitter to express their opinions on the problem openly.

Top IT giants including TCS, IBM, Infosys, and Wipro have criticized the moonlighting practices and have termed it as ‘unethical’ and ‘cheating’. Recently, Wipro chairman Rashid Premji’s tweet calling moonlighting “cheating” sparked a flood of reactions. “There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. This is cheating-plain and simple” He tweeted.

While companies like Tech Mahindra and Cred are also open to employees taking up freelance roles as long as they are upfront and transparent about it. CP Gurnani, the Managing Director of Tech Mahindra says his organization would “make a policy” to allow workers to openly pursue multiple jobs at once. In one of his tweets, he wrote, “My thoughts on the trending ‘M word’… It’s necessary to keep changing with the times, and as always, I welcome disruption in the ways we work”.

A LiveMint poll on Twitter shows that 64% of people find #moonlighting ethical. With remote working becoming the norm and with so many options at everyone’s disposal, the odds are stacked against the employer when it comes to combating moonlighting. Moonlighting can be good if you are not able to fulfil your family goals but it can not be justified over your current employer’s business loss. It is better to discuss the employer and do anything which does not negatively affect anyone.

Moonlighting has raised an ethical dilemma about the future of the gig economy and changing nature of white-collar jobs globally, especially in the IT sector. Companies are having conflicting opinions as few consider moonlighting as cheating whereas others consider it a need of the hour with proper disclosure to their primary jobs.

Are there any other ethical issues involved with moonlighting itself? And, as a candidate, What are your thoughts on Moonlighting?

Tags: CandidatecandidatescareerIT Industryjobs

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