Moonlighting: Bad News As Govt Says Employees Can't Take Up Work Against Employer Interest

People taking up side hustles outside their regular job to supplement their income aka Moonlighting has been one of the most debated topics among the working population in 2022.

Increasing living expenses and concerns over job security have made many, especially in the IT industry, look for gig work to earn additional income.


This, however, has been unwelcome by many companies who have even gone on to terminate employees for moonlighting.

Even as the debate over moonlighting continues, the Indian government has clarified its position, and it is not good news for employees.

Laws don’t perming moonlighting 

The government on Monday told the Parliament that workers shall not take any work against the employer’s interest in addition to their job as per legal framework.


“As per the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946, a workman shall not at any time (type of) work against the interest of the industrial establishment in which he is employed and shall not take any employment in addition to his job in the establishment, which may adversely affect the interest of his employer,” Minister of State for Labour & Employment Rameshwar Teli said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

Teli was replying to a question about whether the government considers moonlighting an efficient reason for firing employees.

No information on layoffs due to moonlighting

Regarding whether the government has observed that lay-offs happen due to moonlighting, Teli stated, “Employment and retrenchment including lay-offs are a regular phenomenon in industrial establishments. No specific information is available to indicate that lay-offs are happening due to moonlighting.”


On whether the government has studied moonlighting in the country, the minister replied, “No, sir.”

Layoffs subject to 

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

Regarding whether the government has instructed companies not to fire employees due to moonlighting, the minister stated that the jurisdiction in the matters concerning multi-national and Indian companies in the IT, social media, edtech firms and related sectors lie with the respective state governments.

However, he told the House that matters relating to lay-off and retrenchment in industrial establishments are governed by the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (ID Act), which regulates various aspects of lay-off and conditions precedent to retrenchment of workers.

Debate over moonlighting

In recent months, several top Indian tech companies, including Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, etc., have made their stands on moonlighting clear, making it nearly impossible for their employees to take up gig work without explicitly saying it.


Employees support it, but companies don’t 

A recent survey found that 43 per cent of employees in the Indian IT sector find moonlighting favourable.

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The top reasons why employees work outside their jobs are to safeguard against job loss and supplement their incomes.

However, employers have a different view of this tendency as 31 per cent believe that employees moonlight because they are not adequately engaged in their work and 23 per cent believe that employees have ample time on hand for a second job, according to the findings from quarterly hiring tracker by job platform Indeed.

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