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Asking For The Moon! What Does Moonlighting Mean?

Considering a second job on the side? Wondering if it's ethical? More importantly, you may want to consider if it's even legal!

You might have heard that 300 employees were fired by one of India’s leading IT organisations because they were moonlighting. This incident has sparked a huge debate among industry leaders, with many supporting moonlighting while others expecting their employees’ complete loyalty.

So, let’s understand the different perspectives on moonlighting, why people do it, its legalities and its pros and cons.

Moonlighting 101

The term moonlighting was coined to describe those who take up two or more jobs: one during the usual working hours in the daytime and the other during the night, when the moon shines―hence, the term moonlighting.

In the post-pandemic scenario, many of us still have the option to continue in work-from-home mode. Several organisations are also comfortable with remote work situations. This has enabled a few people to have extra time on their hands, especially those who lived in metro cities but no longer have to spend hours in traffic commuting to and from their workplaces.

Thus, moonlighting isn’t just presumed to be another side hustle anymore. It can be another actual employment that you take up along with your current job. Furthermore, it no longer has to mean that you work on your second job only after hours.

Reasons for moonlighting

One of the primary reasons for moonlighting is the extra moolah. Over 80% of Indian employees seem to be running out of their salary before the month ends, especially now that we are staring down the barrel of recession.

The soaring prices of all commodities, especially the inflation on medicines and healthcare and other essential services, are enough to worry anyone. Are you one among the people struggling to make ends meet? Then, doing two jobs at the same time seems to be the only way out.

However, this may not be the only reason. Moonlighting could very well be a result of job insecurities. If an employee is afraid of being sacked, they may very well start moonlighting.

Some people even moonlight as a way to pursue their passion/hobby. This may start as a side hustle but can eventually end up becoming a full-time job.

Many might be insecure about their day jobs due to unpredictable factors. In such cases, you would want something to fall back on just in case your main income stream dries up.

The Legalities

Are you moonlighting or considering moonlighting? If yes, you may have asked yourself, “Is it legal?” In India, the laws around moonlighting are ambiguous at best.

Section 60 of the Factories Act 1948 prohibits dual employment. However, this is applicable only if you’re working in a factory. Each state has its own law regarding employment in shops and establishments.

Thus, it all boils down to employment contracts. If your contract with your primary employer specifically states that you are not permitted to undertake dual employment, you can be fired due to a breach of contract if you’ve been found to have taken up a second job.

If your contract states that you may not take up any other employment with a conflict of interest, you may take a job in a different sector provided that your second employer is not in any way a competitor of your first employer.

Wondering how you may be caught? It is speculated that the before-mentioned IT giant caught its 300 employees using their provident fund accounts. In theory, all the employer needs to do is access your UAN and see if multiple employers are depositing into that account simultaneously.

The Conundrums

Now that you know the legalities surrounding moonlighting, you may want to consider if it is morally sound.

You’re being paid to do a job. Your work timings are fixed. Thus, you’re being paid to deliver your services during the specified time. Employers understand that you need frequent breaks. But other than that, their expectation that you devote your time and energy to the job is not misplaced. Thus, you may not be on the high moral ground if you commit to two jobs with coinciding timings.

On the other hand, if you were to take up two jobs that do not have coinciding times, you’d be on firmer moral and ethical grounds. You may think that after your working hours, you can do what you want with the remaining time, and in most cases, you would be right. Your employers would not have the right to dictate what you do after you finish your work.

Moonlighting And Your Health

Ask yourselves this question: How long can you keep burning the candle at both ends? Of the 24 hours in a day, you’d be dedicating 16-18 hours to your jobs. You would need to catch some shut-eye in the remaining time. How much time does that leave for your familial and social responsibilities and engagements?

Also, can you sustain yourself with only weekends as your free time? What if you were to take up a job only on weekends? Then, you wouldn’t have enough time to rejuvenate yourself. This is easier said than done.

You are bound to get tired and start having lapses in your judgement. Is it fair to either of your employers to have a burnt-out employee? Yes, you may avoid burnout at work. But for how long? After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

While you may have the moral high ground and raking in double the money, would it be worth it if you’re all spent? Our suggestion: Consider the morality and legality of moonlighting later. You will be able to carry out your employment responsibilities, at just one or even two jobs, only if you are in good health. Therefore, whatever else you want to focus on, you must first dedicate your energies to your well-being.

We at Kenko don’t want to get into the middle of the moonlighting debate. We’ve laid it all out for you. You do you. We are more concerned about your health and well-being.

If you want to earn more because you’re worried about rising healthcare costs, let Kenko help you. Subscribe to a Kenko Health Plan and start saving on all your OPD expenses like lab tests, medicines, doctor consults and even daily healthcare.

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