Moonlighting on the rise; IT employers seek legal advice

Moonlighting controversy, which has divided India, is forcing IT firms to seek legal counsel to review and rewrite current employment contracts.

As remote work is available everywhere, the moonlighting trend has become common. The IT industry is also struggling with employee moonlighting for quite some time now.

Moonlighting controversy, which has divided India, is forcing IT firms to seek legal counsel to review and rewrite current employment contracts.

Some legal firms reported that they has seen a substantial increase in the number of firms contacting them for help with redrafting employment agreements, finding loopholes, strengthening contracts, enforcing limits, or even enabling moonlighting with proper checks and balances.

A spokesperson from a legal firm said, in the past two to three months, they have been contacted by double digits of businesses. Many firms in the IT sector have emphasised the need to review their employment contracts and policies and provide more clarity regarding their position against potential moonlighting.

The spokesperson further said that it is irrelevant to mention that confidentiality responsibilities and the exclusivity of the job connection would not only apply during working hours but also for the duration of the service period. Any activities that violate these commitments will result in disciplinary action being taken against that employee.

These events come at a time when the subject of moonlighting has sparked a heated debate within India Inc, with top executives taking contrary views. Rishad Premji, the chairman of Wipro and an outspoken critic, recently said that 300 employees had been let go after it was discovered that they were secretly working for other companies.

Companies will need to make sure contracts are more robust and clearly define limits due to the possible problems with moonlighting.

Some firms are requesting lawyers to reevaluate contracts so that their interests are safeguarded and employees are given some flexibility.

A spokesperson from another law firm said customers want to address the implication of community space that the phrase “moonlighting” automatically carries. Therefore, the emphasis is on making sure that the limitations are explicitly stated and properly applied while enabling flexibility with the required checks and balances.

The spokesperson further said some firms are undoubtedly reviewing their policies and contracts to see whether they can permit employees to work a second job (or jobs) without seriously compromising the calibre of their work or their corporate interests.

The IT industry is looking for help in redrafting employment contracts that can safeguard businesses’ confidential information while also being inclusive of the employees.

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