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Cheating, Plain And Simple Wipro Fires 300 For Moonlighting. But Thats Not All

India September 22(IM): Playing in a band over the weekend is different from secretly working for competitors, Wipro boss Rishad Premji underlined this week as the soap to tech business group said it has fired 300 employees for moonlighting. Some other tech majors such as IBM, which has a huge presence in India, and the homegrown Infosys have joined the chorus to call moonlighting an unethical practice.

Cheating, plain and simple is how Mr Premji described it. The company issued a statement too Certain employees found to be operating in circumstances that are in direct conflict with Wipros interests have been terminated.

And now a group of IT employees is readying for a fightback.

But this integrity debate isnt simply about what some company bosses want. Heres a primer to what the tech industry in India is grappling with

What does moonlighting mean

Moonlighting is when you take up a secondary job beyond your usual job. Since most normal jobs are 9 to 5 in the daytime, the other job would usually be at night, hence the moon reference. While people with low salaries would usually take it up for additional income as a means of sustenance remote working and projects across time zones have now made it possible for high salaried techies to do this too.

Who started the two jobs debate

Food delivery platform Swiggy said last month that it now has an industry first Moonlighting Policy, under which staff can take up external projects based on internal approvals.

Be it volunteering with an NGO, working as a dance instructor, or content creation for social media, Swiggy firmly believes that working on such projects outside of ones full time employment can significantly contribute to both professional and personal development of an individual.

It said the work could be for free or even for money.

But the older majors havent taken kindly to the idea.

Who wants none of it

Wipros Rishad Premji said that employees can have conversations around playing in a band or working on a project over the weekend but sought to separate such cases from secretly working for competitors. There is no space for someone to work for Wipro and competitor XYZ and they the other company would feel exactly the same way if they were to discover the same situation.

Earlier this month, Infosys shot off a stern mail titled no double lives to employees, saying No two timing no moonlighting It cited clauses in the offer letter to drive home the point.

Is conflict of interest the final clause

Employees are mostly quiet as they sign agreements with clauses against conflict of interest that can be described by the employer in varied way. Since company specific unions are mostly absent, these employees lack bargaining power too.

But social media is abuzz with a basic assertion What one does beyond the contracted work hours should be none of anyones business.

A former director of Infosys, Mohandas Pai, says its not as simple as that.

Employment is a contract between an employer who pays me for working for them for n number of hours a day. Now what I do after that time is my freedom, I can do what I want, he has said, but added that employees should honour the terms of the contract they sign with the companies, and that its illegal and unethical if they use their employers property for it.

Whos pushing for it

A group of employees that calls itself the Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate NITES has said Wipros move is unethical. NITES chief Harpreet Singh Saluja has said clauses in the offer letters and employment contracts deserve legal scrutiny.

It is disappointing to hear the news that Wipro has fired around 300 employees in the name of Moonlighting. The arbitrary termination of employees is unethical and illegal, and NITES will leave no stone unturned to provide justice to aggrieved employees, Mr Saluja has said.

Theres at least one IT major thats fine with moonlighting, though only in principle so far.

source : NDTV

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