What is Moonlighting?

Moonlighting refers to doing a second or many jobs in addition to one’s regular job. Therefore, an employee may work a typical day job as a primary source of income and may also work nights at a different job to earn extra income. It could also be following one’s passions, freelancing, or side hustles. This can be with or without the understanding of the primary employer. Employees who work for private companies may be subject to policies that the company has in place regarding moonlighting. Some organizations may not want employees to work additional jobs, while others might not care.

Moonlighting is a side-effect of the current situation. According to HR experts, the extent of moonlighting has grown during the Covid-19 pandemic period, with people wanting more money in the face of inflation, job losses, or having more time due to working from home. There has been a steaming debate about whether employees should be free to pursue other jobs while in full-time employment. Lately, we have seen reports of an IT giant sacking 300 employees for moonlighting for the competition, which is a severe breach of contract. “Doing two remote jobs at once was already happening; it was the biggest open secret out there in tech,” The Guardian quoted a US techie as saying.

C-suite professionals struggle to get people back to the workplace, especially in technology-led businesses. In most cases, employees have shifted from their original work locations.


Consequently, their mid-level managers also have minimal motivation to turn up at work with their remote teams. Companies find it challenging to drive down a sense of larger ambition with their people and are now burdened with a disengaged workforce across levels.

We usually use the word ‘FTEs,’ i.e., full-time employees, which translates as employees who are committed to their employers full-time and vice-versa. FTEs also sign dedicated employment contracts with their employers, preventing them from pursuing other full-time/part-time paid opportunities. They are supposed to commit 100% of their productive time to advance their employers’ business. Even in the case of part-time employment, a non-compete clause usually prevents working with competition, either full-time or part-time. 

As per the contract, any employee who is moonlighting, especially with competition, is in clear violation of the agreement. From their perspective, it is fair that organizations are taking a call to sack these employees to protect their interests. On the other side, employees, especially younger ones, who were onboarded during the pandemic, don’t have the same viewpoint and value their flexibility to pursue multiple opportunities to add to their income. There is a complete misalignment in terms of the absence of ownership and long-term thinking, which organizations genuinely value.

Is moonlighting ethical?

Moonlighting Ethics

Well, we can’t say much about it, but the IT sector is divided regarding moonlighting. Some call it unethical, while others believe it is the need of the hour.

We think this can be tackled in the future by having two separate employer-employee contracts in place, one for full-time employment and the other with flexibility. This will allow contracted employees to seek other opportunities, considering they do not conflict with the employer’s business. These will generally be short-term engagements with no long-term benefits or career advancement opportunities that are otherwise offered to full-time employees. Many organizations already engage with several such part-time workers for short-term contracts.

Ultimately, it isn’t a question of whether employees are allowed to pick up a side hustle; it is more about accommodating such an option in their contracts, enabling them to seek such opportunities. But they must be ready for a trade-off based on principles of reciprocity.

On the other side, who likes to lose a good employee, either part-time or full-time? It is just a choice of fulfilling contractual obligations and transparency. 

Have Any Questions?

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