Moonlighting: Wipro Fires 300 Employees Because They Were Also Working For Rival Firms

Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji on Wednesday said that 300 people were fired after they were found to be working for one of its competitors at the same time.

Moonlighting: Wipro Fires 300 Employees Because They Were Also Working For Rival Firms

Wipro’s case

“The reality is that there are people today working for Wipro and working directly for one of our competitors and we have actually discovered 300 people in the last few months who are doing exactly that,” Premji said.

He had made it clear earlier that he is wholly against moonlighting (the practice of techies taking up side gigs to work more than one job at a time) and that it is a “complete violation of integrity in its deepest form”.

In such instances action had been taken by terminating their services.

He said that their employment had been terminated for “act of integrity violation”.

How did the issue arise?

The issue of moonlighting in the IT sector picked up steam with the COVID-19 pandemic when employees were allowed to work from remote locations.

Later, many IT firms came to know that their employees were using the remote working option to simultaneously work on projects for others.

Transparency and open conversations

Premji said, “As part of transparency, individuals can have candid and open conversations around playing in a band or “working on a project over the weekend”.

He further said that he is not necessarily anti-moonlighting but pro-transparency.

“If you actually look at the definition of moonlighting, it is having a second job secretly. I’m all about transparency. As a part of transparency, individuals in organisations can have very candid conversations.”

“That is an open conversation that the organisation and the individual can make a concerted choice about, on whether that works for them or doesn’t,” he said.

Employee Union Protest

Reacting on this development, Harpreet Singh Saluja, President, Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate NITES said, “It’s disappointing to hear the news that Wipro has fired around 300 employees in the name of Moonlighting. Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate NITES condemns this unethical move of the organization. We have urged the employees to come forward & join us as we are gearing up for a legal battle against illegal clauses mentioned in the offer letter of IT sector employees. The clauses mentioned in the offer letters and employment contracts need to be reviewed legally by judiciary. The arbitrary termination of employees is unethical & illegal & NITES union will leave no stone unturned to provide justice to aggrieved employees.”

Infosys’ stand

Infosys echoes the anti-moonlighting sentiment, having sent a strong and firm message to employees last week saying “No two timing – no moonlighting!” 

It said it will affect productivity, create conflict of interest and even cause data breaches.

“Dual employment is not permitted as per…Employee Handbook and Code of Conduct.”

Any violation “will lead to disciplinary action which could even lead to termination of employment”.

TCS

Tata Consultancy Services’ chief operating officer (CFO) NG Subramaniam has termed it an ethical issue.

He said that “we need to inculcate the ethics and (the idea of) being right and if we make something like this for short-term gains, in the long-term we will lose out.” he added.

Tech Mahindra

In stark contrast, the more open-minded Tech Mahindra CEO Anand Mahindra CP Gurnani tweeted recently that it is important to keep up with the times and added “I welcome disruption in the ways we work”.

He elaborated that he has no issues with someone moonlighting if they are delivering in terms of efficiency and productivity and as long as they are not committing fraud.

If someone wants to go about moonlighting, they should be upfront about it instead of concealing it, he said.

Blazing a trail

Swiggy became the first company in India to openly promote moonlighting, going as far as to launch an industry-first ‘Moonlighting policy’ in August.

According to this, employees are encouraged to undertake second jobs with certain clauses, to sustain their finances.

Swiggy clarified that moonlighting would pave the way for the professionals to engage in passion projects and social works, so long as it did not conflict with the company’s business interests, and was done outside office hours without affecting productivity.

Future scenarios

After what happened with Wipro, employers may consider extra safeguards to protect proprietary information and operating models.

This would apply especially to those working remotely.

Companies, analysts have said, could also make exclusivity clauses in employment contracts tougher.

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