Infosys has shot off a missive to its employees, asserting that dual employment or 'moonlighting' is not permitted, and has 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 said in a strong and firm message to employees on Monday.
Put simply, moonlighting refers to employees taking up side gigs to work on more than one job at a time.
Infosys' internal communication titled "no double lives" makes it clear that "dual employment is not permitted as per...Employee Handbook and Code of Conduct".
It also cites the relevant clause in the offer letter to drive home the point.
"Any violation of these clauses will lead to disciplinary action which could even lead to termination of employment," the mail said.
An email sent by PTI to Infosys for comments did not elicit a response.
"Moonlighting is a practice of working on a second job during normal business hours/outside business hours. Infosys as a company strictly discourages dual employment," according to the mailer.
The company has urged managers to sensitize their teams on dual employment and the "consequences" of moonlighting.
"You are expected to immediately report any instances of moonlighting to your respective unit HR," Infosys said.
The move comes at a time when the issue of moonlighting by tech professionals has ignited a fresh debate, polarising opinions and raising thorny legal questions within the industry.
With the vexed issue now in the spotlight, some industry watchers have been cautioning that employers may consider extra safeguards to protect proprietary information and operating models, especially where employees are working remotely.
Companies, analysts have said, could also turn tougher on exclusivity clauses in employment contracts. While the practice of moonlighting emerged as a big talking point after Wipro chairman Rishad Premji flagged the issue, equating it to "cheating", the voices and opinions within the industry have been rather divided.
Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), a Pune-based union, has strongly condemned the "threatening email" sent by Infosys to employees. It has been argued that moonlighting "is not feasible" for a number of reasons.
"Aadhaar card and PAN card are now mandatory for joining any company. The government has also linked the Aadhaar card to the Employees Provident Fund account and each employee has a unique Universal Account Number (UAN) for the provident fund," Harpreet Singh Saluja, president of NITES, said, adding it is not possible for two companies to submit an employee's provident fund contribution in one month.
Further, NITES said employees in the IT sector are working under pressure to meet deadlines.
"IT employees are working more than nine hours a day without any overtime benefits. Would there be any energy or time left if an employee is working 10-12 hours a day," it quipped.
Also, many IT companies have developed monitoring systems to measure employee productivity, the union contended. Terming such employee mailers on moonlighting as "illegal and unethical" and related contract clauses as arbitrary, NITES emphasized "what the employees do outside working hours is their prerogative". =