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IBM speaks up on moonlighting after Infosys, Wipro, other tech giants warn employees; says this on second jobs

IBM India does not permit its employees to moonlight or take up a second job simultaneously, a top company executive said, echoing the voices of other tech giants.

IBM speaks up on moonlighting after Infosys, Wipro, other tech giants warn employees; says this on second jobs
IBM India, other tech giants opposing moonlighting. Image: Reuters

IBM India does not permit its employees to moonlight or take up a second job simultaneously, a top company executive said, echoing the voices of other tech giants. “Notwithstanding what they (employees) can do with the rest of their time, it’s not ethical…that’s my view,” Sandip Patel, managing director, IBM India and South Asia said at the IBM Think event. IBM had a total of over 2,82,000 employees as of 2021, one-third of whom are based in India. In November 2021, IBM completed the separation of its managed infrastructure services business to Kyndryl, comprising approximately 90,000 employees.

This comes soon after Infosys, India’s second-largest IT services company, said in an email to employees that moonlighting is not permitted by the company according to the employees’ code of conduct and any violation will lead to disciplinary action. Most big tech firms have opposed moonlighting. Wipro chairman Rishad Premji was among the firsts to term moonlighting as “plain and simple cheating”. Tech Mahindra chief executive C.P. Gurnani had a more flexible approach and said he is open to his employees taking up extra work as long as they are not committing fraud or going against the company’s policies. He even indicated that given a chance, he may explore making policies around moonlighting at Tech Mahindra.

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Smaller tech firms have been more open to employees having a second job as long as they are transparent about it and the nature of work does not come in direct conflict with the employment terms. Mid-sized IT services firm Happiest Minds Technologies believes moonlighting has to be seen in the light of the employment contract or association that an individual has with the employer. “If the contract terms have an exclusivity clause, then moonlighting is patently wrong. However, moonlighting is not an issue if the arrangement is not exclusive,” said Venkatraman Narayanan, MD and CFO, Happiest Minds.

Some IT firms also believe companies can set up moonlighting policies to utilize remote talent while preventing conflict of interest. “Employments should be converted into contract and one should maintain transparency and make the best use of their time; it’s a change that will grow in days to come. Better for companies and people to adapt, and benefit from it, than denounce it. We will embrace it and build the new way of working,” said Abhishek Rungta, founder and CEO, Indus Net Technologies. Foodtech startup Swiggy was the first company to announce an official policy allowing its employees to take up gigs or projects outside of their regular employment at the company, during the hours away from work. 

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