People pick up jobs typically in the night-time or at weekends, in addition to their 9-to-5 jobs and thus, moonlighting as a concept takes birth. Most often, the second job was taken up without the knowledge of the 9-to-5 employer. As a large number of full-time employees start moonlighting, employers are concerned about it and have started firing employees on grounds of dishonesty. One wonders if their worry is legitimate. And at the same time, one must think about the rights of the employees and their expectations from their employers.
An employer can consent to an employee’s side hustle
Large employers are typically strong talent magnets and hence, can wield their powers to include clauses in their employment contract that can prevent their employees from taking up another job beyond the remit of the employer. If an employee moonlights, it is unacceptable and is a reason for termination on the ground of violating the employment conditions. The moot question is if an employer is morally right to prevent an employee from moonlighting.
It is a no-brainer that an employee must not be allowed to moonlight if their intellectual property or confidential information is likely to be compromised. There are numerous possibilities where the employer does not have a conflict of interest with the assignments an employee moonlights for. Independent directors on a company’s board work for multiple companies with mutual consent. This is an established practice; the same must be applied to full-time employees.
Do work hours matter?
As employees have been working in a hybrid environment, an organisation can’t keep hawkish control over the employees’ work hours. Performance is increasingly getting measured by the outcomes rather than the number of hours worked. Many employees work beyond the boundaries of work hours mentioned in their appointment letters. Sometimes, they have slack hours during the window of 9 hours of the day, yet they have put in hours of work beyond the stipulated hours mentioned in their employment contracts. Similarly, many a time, employees are required to engage with work on a weekly off, holiday or vacation. So, the definition of work hours is changing altogether.
Accordingly, employers must not drive compliance with a 45-hour week. Rather they should just focus on the outcomes and the compliance with the organisation’s values and work processes. If an employee does not moonlight on assignments that conflict with the business of any of its employers, nobody should worry.
Bring sunshine everywhere!
Employers can bring a moonlighting policy that clarifies the projects or employment that is allowed and what kind of tasks can be taken up based on specific consent from them. This will encourage their employees to talk about their aspirations and accordingly, they can try fulfilling those to the best possible extent. This can help them emerge stronger as an employer brand and hence, attract and retain talent better.
At the same time, employees can legitimately moonlight to take up stimulating and challenging work, upskill themselves and proudly showcase the variety of work they have taken up and delivered. This can help employees express themselves holistically, legitimately earn additional income and at the same time, stay committed to the practice of excellence in whatever work they take up. Sunshine everywhere!