Moonlighting Part 1 – What is Moonlighting and Why Can it Be a Problem For Your Business

In recent years, the job markets and global economy have witnessed tumultuous fluctuations, with a rising unemployment risk and shorter job tenures. Jobs have been re-modelled and many of those have shifted to remote working platforms, with the gig economy gaining momentum. Whether this is managing housework with a job or following a hobby, things that weren’t seen often are now more commonly and unapologetically practiced. And hence, the new trend that has gained traction is “Moonlighting”, which stands out, as a hot topic for debate, on it’s legitimacy in the employment sector. With fast paced technological changes, occupational mobility is underpinning on multiple skill based opportunities, which is the ‘key cause’ moonlighting presumably supports.

While the concept itself isn’t new, instances of ‘Moonlighting’ within the workforce have witnessed an alarming rise, especially in the IT sector. The additional load of work may exceed the limit of what an employer may be comfortable with. So, in this article, we’ll be deepening our understanding on the subject, it’s impact on employers and ways to address this growing menace in the workplace.

What is Moonlighting?

The term “Moonlighting” essentially means having an additional job(s) alongside a primary full-time job. This is often done in employees’ spare time after finishing work although it can also fit into gaps in a  full-time job’s schedule, especially in the absence of a real-time monitoring mechanism. In essence it’s taking up additional corporate or monetary tasks which will take up time in addition to a full-time position.

Moonlighting can be of four types:

Blue Moonlighting- is when annual hike is not as expected and the employee then engages in a secondary job

Quarter Moonlighting- is when an employee is not satisfied with their current salary and therefore gets secondary jobs for additional income

Half Moonlighting- is when an employee leads an extravagant lifestyle and spends much more than the earning potential, then there is always a need to indulge in multiple income schemes.

Full Moonlighting- is when an employee starts investing time in own business while being in a full time job.

How Is It Different From Freelancing?

Unlike freelancing where a person is completely involved in a part-time or multiple contract positions, an individual who is ‘Moonlighting’ does hold a full-time job and pursues additional secondary roles.

It’s because of this difference that employers find freelancing ethical and ‘Moonlighting’ unethical. Instead of deviating from a full-time role which should be a primary involvement, freelancers are up-front and involved with various tasks simultaneously without immense importance to one in particular (in most cases).

Impact on Employers

Moonlighting has been showcasing significant negative impact on a company and its culture.  that employers may face, begin to emerge. The most prominent reasons why employers are against ‘Moonlighting’ are:

Conflict of Interest

Imagine working with a bakery as a full-time baker and then going home to work as a part-time teacher for a bakery school nearby. As an employee, you will end up using the same knowledge to benefit two possibly competing businesses which is not ideal for either of them.

In case of competing firms, there is a risk of data privacy of firms being compromised by the employees. Similarly,  internal process controls and excellence may inadvertently get shared when employees multitask, delivering to more than one organization at a time. Employees may also divulge confidential information or trade secrets of the organization while engaging in multiple jobs with competing firms

Lack of Maximum Focus & Productivity

Hectic work life straddling many roles and prolonged periods of over-work will result in fatigue and exhaustion for employees. This will have a direct impact on the attention span, the efficiency and the productivity of the employees. Organizations who have hired talent in full time job roles, would find this a counterproductive investment. At a time when organizations globally are focusing on ‘Employee Wellness’ as a key agenda, moonlighting is a definitive impediment.

Unwanted Use of Primary Job Resources

Many organizations offer their full-time employees, assets like laptops, bags, datacards, mobile phones, stationary etc so that the employee is fully supported to deliver the performance. These resources may be used by employees for their side hustle which can be a waste of money and resources for the primary organization.

Perspectives on Moonlighting

With wage stagnation and low wage growth, income hasn’t kept pace with the cost of living, coercing employees to engage in side jobs for additional sources of income. Further, with fast paced technological changes, occupational mobility is underpinning on multiple skill based opportunities, which is the ‘key cause’ moonlighting presumably supports. And hence this helps employees get trained on new technologies, so that they are  not at the risk of losing their jobs for redundancy or lack of upskilling.

As per local statutes, there is no legislation that directly prohibits employees from seeking multiple jobs simultaneously. However, most organizations are now imposing strong contractual clauses in their employment agreements that restricts any dual employment opportunity pursuance. Any revelation of such incidences are dealt with strictly as breach of code of ethics and there are proceedings initiated against the employee as per the ‘Disciplinary Guidelines’, with severe penal consequences sometimes leading to termination of employment without pay. This is instituted to safeguard trade secrets or any intellectual property of the organization, to protect resources and assets of the organization and also to ensure employee health and wellbeing is always prioritized.