You might for once think of getting employed at two different places in order
to make more money. This seems like a genius idea; the exhaustion might be a
little more than you usually bear but the satisfaction of getting more monetary
benefits encompasses it all. This is exactly what the employees of Wipro
thought, but this was not taken well by the IT company which resulted in, them
losing their precious jobs. What these employees did, is called as
'MOONLIGHTING'. Let us understand this term, the need for moonlighting and the
laws in the India regarding this dual employment, in this article.
Meaning of 'moonlighting':
Moonlight has been taken from the word 'Moonlighter' which means one who takes
up a second work during the night and works by the moonlight. This was used in
1882 when an organized band that carried out agrarian outrages in Ireland used
to commit crimes like murders and thefts at night. Moonlighter in American
English meant 'one who goes serenading during the moonlight nights.'
Why moonlighting occurs?
Moonlighting has been described as unethical and a threat to the productivity
and privacy policies of the companies, however if we see this phenomenon from
the perspective of such a person who is engaged in dual employment, we will
better understand the reasons behind it.
Why is moonlighting a problem?
- Plan B / additional income sources
As any prudent financial veteran would suggest you, having a Plan B or an
additional source of employment is always a good step towards creating
financial stability and a secure future. The global economy has been the
worst since the occurrence of World war 2, people have lost jobs and have
been pushed to the edge of poverty.
In September 2022, India's unemployment rate, according to a private
organization called the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, will be 6.50%.
In urban India, it is 7.70%, but in rural India, it is 6.00%. In such
circumstances, it is but natural for people to have backup plans.(1)
Layoffs basically means that the employees of a company are discharged for a
temporary or permanent period. Massive layoffs are but a common scenario in
the present-day economy. Reportedly, more than 15 thousand employees have
been laid off this year, which includes the names of some unicorn start-ups
like BYJU, meesho etc. These occurrences create an economically and mentally
vulnerable and desperate situations for the people. Hence, employees prefer
to have a second job that they can rely upon in case any layoffs happen.
- Change of career
People who want to change their career path occasionally take on a second
job to become accustomed to it. If you don't have a formal background in
your target industry, people moonlight for a side job that gives them the
experience they need to later land lucrative employment in it. People who
want to change their career path occasionally take on a second job to become
accustomed to it.
You can keep working at your current employment while looking for side jobs
or freelance possibilities in whatever industry you want. If you don't
already have a formal foundation in your field, many moonlight as a side job
to provide them the experience they need to later get lucrative employment
in their field.
- Passion/ Creativity
Sometimes the primary job becomes too monotonous and mundane for the
employee. This not only affects his productivity but also creates a mental
strain on the employee. To avoid this and take a break from the everyday
humdrum tasks, employees take up jobs that interests them.
The IT sector puts forward its split opinions when it comes to moonlighting.
There are some tech companies which calls moonlighting plainly cheating and a
breach of contract between the employee and the employer. They contend it to be
a threat to their privacy and confidentiality.
Others also avow it to be harmful for the productivity of the employee which in
turn affects the productivity of a company. In a July poll of 400 employees in
the IT & ITES industry, Kotak Institutional Equities, it was discovered that
"65% knew of people seeking part-time jobs or moonlighting while working from
This has been said to be promulgated with the COVID times where work from home
was prevalent across the board and people were struggling to meet the ends meet
with all that calamitous situation that was going on.
However, Companies like Swiggy has officially announced its 'moonlighting
policy' that allowed its employees to work at more than one place under certain
conditions. The employees can work outside their official hours or during the
weekends to avoid clashing with the productivity or have a conflict with the
business interest of Swiggy.
Laws for moonlighting in India
In India, it's legal to hold multiple jobs without breaching the law. However, a
person with a similar set of jobs may raise questions about a breach of
confidence because many employers place such restrictions in their employment
agreements in addition to rules barring holding down numerous jobs. If an
employee's contract stipulates non-compete and exclusive employment, as is the
case with the majority of traditional employment contracts, moonlighting might
be regarded as cheating.
If the employment contracts do not contain this clause or offer exceptions, it
is not considered cheating. The concept of 'dual employment' is not dealt
directly by the Indian law. However, there are certain statues that govern them.
- A worker is not permitted to work in two workplaces at once, according
to Section 60 of the Factories Act of 1948. However, an IT specialist or any
employee holding an administrative or supervisory function is not included
in the Factories Act's definition of a worker.
- According to the Industrial Job (Standing Orders) Central Rules, 1946, a
worker must not work against the industrial establishment's interests and
must not accept any supplementary employment that could jeopardise the
- The Shops and Establishments Act governs employees who work in, among
other places, retail establishments, dining establishments, theatres, and
other public amusement or entertainment facilities, as well as information
technology and information technology-enabled services. Each state has a
unique Shops and Establishments Act. For instance, the Delhi Shops and
Establishments Act of 1954 forbids multiple work.
- All country citizens have the right to practise any profession and to
engage in any occupation, trade, or business, according to Article 19(1)(g)
of the constitution. Moonlighting can be brought under the ambit this
article. However, this article is also subjected to reasonable restrictions.
- In a case involving the transfer of an employee from a factory to the
head office, Manager, Pyarchand Kesarimal Ponwal Bidi Factory vs. Omkar
Laxman Thange and Others (AIR 1970 SC 823), the Supreme Court made the
following observation: "The general rule in respect of relationship of
master and servant is that a subsisting contract of service with one master
is a bar to service with other master unless the contract otherwise provides
or the master consents.(2)
- Citing the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling, the Madras High Court
ruled in the case of Government of Tamil Nadu vs. Tamil Nadu Racecourse
General Employees Union (1993 ILLJ 977 Mad) that "there may not be any
prohibition to have dual employers if the contract otherwise provides, or
the master consents."(3)
- Article 21 of the constitution includes right to life and personal
liberty. Right to life has been read broadly with right to livelihood in the
case of Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay v. Dilipkumar
Raghavendranath Nandkarni (1983) 1 SCC 124.- The Court concluded that
"the right to life" guaranteed by Article 21 encompasses "the right to
Moonlighting is a sensitive and complicated situation for the companies to deal
with. Having no concrete law in this regard makes it even more prone to be bend
according to one's own interpretation. From the viewpoint of general public,
this seems justified and fair. But the companies or organisation doesn't run on
the delusions or philosophies of right and wrong. It runs on laws, policies and
contracts. The absence of which can lead to a haphazard situation of
mismanagement and chaos.
This can even put the economy in a danger. Thus, the court or the Government can
come up with an effective law to deal with 'dual employment' or 'moonlighting',
to make it easier to regulate and govern while keeping in mind the needs of the
people and thus protecting their fundamental rights as well.
- Pyarchand Kesarimal Ponwal Bidi Factory vs. Omkar Laxman Thange and
Others (AIR 1970 SC 823)
- Government of Tamil Nadu vs. Tamil Nadu Racecourse General Employees
Union (1993 ILLJ 977 Mad)
- Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay v. Dilipkumar Raghavendranath
Nandkarni (1983) 1 SCC 124