Moonlighting unacceptable: Happiest Minds
IT company Happiest Minds Technologies has said moonlighting is unacceptable as it amounts to violation of job contract and that "few" employees found engaging in such practices have been fired over the last 6-12 months.
The company -- which recently logged a stellar 33.7 per cent on year growth in net profit in the second quarter and 31.1 per cent rise in its total income -- had about 4,581 employees as of September 30, 2022.
Happiest Minds asserted that moonlighting is not very prevalent within the company but did not divulge the exact number of employees against whom action had been taken on the issue.
The issue of moonlighting or dual employment has emerged as a big talking point in the IT industry ever since Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji red-flagged the issue on Twitter, equating it to "cheating".
Over the past weeks, several companies have waded into the issue making it clear that they do not approve of dual employment.
Put simply, moonlighting or dual employment refers to employees taking up side gigs to work on more than one job at a time.
Happiest Minds' Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Anantharaju told PTI: "We have been quite clear with our people that it is something we will not accept... because when you sign a contract or employment offer, you are agreeing to work only for that company."
Moonlighting raises risks and questions around security, as well as commitment of workers in devoting their time and attention to end customers and delivery outcomes.
To a question on whether the company had found instances of employees involved in moonlighting, Anantharaju said: "We have had a few and we immediately terminated them because it is a message you want to drive across the company. Even if it is a few hours somewhere... because there is no way of really ascertaining that. So we have done that".
The action was taken in the last 6-12 months window, he informed. "We are clear, you can't be moonlighting. If you want to do some voluntary activities in unrelated areas... maybe wish to go teach in a school over the weekend that is different. But for us you have to have all of your time dedicated to Happiest Minds and working out here," he said.
The moonlighting practices and instances are "not too pervasive" in the company.
"That is one of the reasons we have started getting our people back into office. Because once you're back in office, the scope for a lot of these things is minimal and it can get eliminated and identified very earlier," he said.
The company had about 67 per cent of its employees come into office in the last quarter; the plan is to push the number up by January 1, 2023 and have most of employees in office by April 1.
On the frequency of days in a week that employees are now punching into physical workspaces and filling up office cubicles, Anantharaju said, "We have given them latitude, and not measured that. But we have told them 3 2 is fine, to start with. Some of these things will evolve overtime as it also depends on which projects and when. The primarily thing is to get teams together."
Recently, Infosys allowed its staff to take up external gig work provided such an engagement does not compete with the company, its clients or pose conflict of interest.
On whether Happiest Minds, too, is mulling some dos and don'ts to clear the air on external gig work, Anantharaju said, "Not yet. Right now our stance is quite clear... you work for Happiest Minds and that is the only company that you should be working for."
Infosys is among the companies which have taken a strong stance on moonlighting. It had earlier shot off a missive to its employees emphasising that 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!" India's second largest IT services company had said.
During the company's Q2 earnings, Infosys had made it clear that the company does not support moonlighting and that it has fired employees who were into dual employment over the last 12 months.
Last month, Wipro's Rishad Premji revealed that some 300 employees were fired as the IT services company had no place for any employee who chose to work directly with rivals while being on Wipro payrolls.
Other IT companies too have chimed in, raising their voice against moonlighting, a practice that quietly gained ground during pandemic-induced lockdown and work from home.
HCL Technologies has said it does not approve of dual employment although it hastened to add that the issue is not a major one within the company.