The issue of moonlighting and employees who prefer working two jobs got a surprising support recently from the government, with Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT and Skill Development Rajeev Chandrashekhar saying that companies who ‘pin down their employees’ are bound to fail.
The minister, while addressing an event of the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI), said on Friday that the younger generation has every sense of confidence and purpose about wanting to monetise and create more values.
‘Moonlighting’ in IT circles refers to techies taking up side gigs to work more than one job at a time, and the issue, over the past weeks, has ignited a fresh debate polarising opinions within the industry.
“Today’s youngsters have every sense of confidence and purpose about wanting to monetise, create more values…So, the efforts of companies that want to pin their employees down and say that you should not work on your own startup are doomed to fail,” he said.
“Moonlighting represents two very significant phenomena. One, the entrepreneurial bug that has bitten every techie. Two, the talent deficit or demand for talent. For a company to forbid a young engineer from dabbling in a startup…they (companies) do not understand the change in model,” he further told Economic Times at the sidelines of the event.
The minister, however, agreed that moonlighting should not be in violation of any contractual obligations.
According to an official release, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said this is the age of employee-entrepreneurs and the corporates, and companies must now understand there has been a structural shift in the minds and attitudes of the young Indian tech workforce.
On the issue of moonlighting, where employees work for more than one employer simultaneously, the minister said that the days when employees signed up with big tech majors and spent their lives on the job were long gone.
“Any captive models will fade. Employers expect employees to be entrepreneurial while serving them. The same people can apply it personally to themselves,” he said, while agreeing that the moonlighting should not be in violation of any contractual obligations. He predicted a time will come when there will be a community of product builders who will divide their time on multiple projects.
“Just like lawyers or consultants do. This is the future of work,” he said.
The minister’s comments on moonlighting came days after Wipro chairperson Rishad Premji said the company had fired 300 people for working with competitors. In a recent event, he said moonlighting is a “complete violation of integrity in its deepest form,” while also equating the practice to cheating in the recent months.
“There is no space for someone to work for Wipro and competitor XYZ and they would feel exactly the same way if they were to discover the same situation,” the Wipro boss further said.
Days ago, another IT giant Infosys had sent an email to its employees , emphasising that dual employment or ‘moonlighting’ is not permitted, and warned that any violation of contract clauses will trigger disciplinary action “which could even lead to termination of employment”. “No two timing – no moonlighting,” Infosys, India’s second largest IT services company, had said in the strong and firm message to employees.