The corporate industry is notoriously famous for having the highest pay grade difference for employees working in the same company at different levels doing the same or similar jobs. This difference attracts several young engineers and management graduates into this vicious cycle of expectation and disappointment. It instills a tempestuous fire that keeps everybody seeking better offers and opportunities.

The pandemic era only added to this competitive misery. Most firms and companies faced huge losses and were staring at an inevitable mass layoff, while some prospered and made the most of this time by making desperate moves. Employees also were not spared from despair in desperate and vulnerable times. Hence, it became usual for employees with lower pay grades to hustle and partake in several shifts or pick other part-time jobs.

This point directed my research toward finding these unique coping methods. I came across moonlighting and honestly, it fascinated me. It is a “risk hai to ishq hai” gamble for me, which was the road not taken until now. Moonlighting is a sophisticated way of referring to the practice of having alternate employment, outside of regular working hours. Some employers accommodate moonlighting, as moonlighters are usually cheaper and are willing to work flexible hours than typical employees. For employers, the main advantage of known moonlighting is that it lessens the pressure on them to raise pay and hours. Moonlighting policies keep employees accountable and ensure any moonlighting job does not interfere with their primary employment. By including a moonlighting policy, employers gain a legal basis for controlling the activities of their employees who moonlight. India does not have blanket laws that ban moonlighting, the constitution only has a few acts preventing dual employment and conflict of interest in prone industries. Honestly, it is not a new buzzword and has existed for ages in various forms, it gained prominence with the hybrid and work-from-home culture.

In the past, traditional companies viewed moonlighting as equivalent to treason and employees not being dedicated and committed to the company. People who moonlighted without authorization faced criticism and legal repercussions. The urge to commit to dual employment arose from impetus such as a lack of lucrative packages to compensate employees and a shortage of skilled labor. Competitors often looked to poach employees from rivals due to a lack of a credible talent pool.

This no longer needs to be the situation, so I want to present an argument around individuals and companies on undeclared work in my favored industry, the IT sector. In addition to the pay from a regular job, a hard-working moonlighter may be able to make lakhs of rupees more each year. This increased income comes with an updated skill set obtained by taking on distinct work from what they do during the day or complementing it with the same technology. If a developer wants to explore a potential career switch, moonlighting can be an excellent option to scout before taking a deep plunge. In developing and developed countries, people engage in moonlighting in varying forms like gig work, e-lancing, and free-lancing.

I believe there is a fine line between utilizing and misusing this opportunity. Many businesses forbid employees from working additional jobs on top of their primary duties, especially if it means working for rivals. Working on anything other than a regular job during business hours is immoral and unjust to the invested employer. An individual’s free time and relationships are moonlighting’s potential expenses. If people operate nonstop, their mental and physical health may suffer. In my opinion Swiggy, the food ordering and delivering platform, has achieved a critical milestone by having a moonlighting policy that embraces gigs and other side projects that could interest an employee without conflicts. The only downside is that it has come at a time when the industry has seen massive moonlighting-related terminations. Time will tell if it is a publicity stunt or a revolutionary policy that barely manages to create win-win situations. In my opinion, any approved or recreational gigs will affect productivity and endurance at work.

In reality, the irony is companies that worry about their employees moonlighting regularly land up hiring moonlighters for their talent needs. This hypocritic ideology saddens me and speaks volumes about the double-minded nature of employers. Companies must be able to take their stand, which will help define demand and supply equations. After all, companies that commit to moral policing often feel the heat from employees.

In a nutshell, moonlighting is here to stay and set to evolve the corporate world for the better. The day when companies will advertise for moonlighters is not far away. As an aspiring student who admires the corporate culture and environment, I would love to be a part of a setup that marks the beginning of a gig economy era.

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