Moonlighting by day: What companies can do about side-hustles

The pandemic has greatly accelerated the trend of side hustles, especially with the larger implementation of remote work and working from home (WFH) across companies. A survey revealed that 65% of the respondents from the IT/ITeS field were pursuing part-time opportunities during the pandemic. Reasons most cited include paying off debt, creating an extra source of savings/investments, gaining additional work experience, exploring passions, and countering boredom. 

But is moonlighting ethical? What can companies do to curb its employees from taking up more gigs? 

According to HR professionals, one solution includes developing more robust Employment Assistance Programs (EAPs) that will provide financial support to workers who are in need of it. Organizations can also actively facilitate various internal upskilling/reskilling campaigns so that employees can gain more skills, and put them to use within their own companies or bolster their portfolios for overall career development. Additionally, by encouraging employees to work on projects that go beyond their job descriptions, companies can provide them with first-hand experience in conducting unique tasks. This will motivate employees to take up more responsibilities, resulting in a win-win situation for both parties.  

Creating a Moonlighting Policy

There is no regulation around practices like Moonlighting and this debate around moonlighting is a perfect opportunity for companies to work towards creating an effective regulatory framework. Some of the rules could include workers seeking consent for doing another job from the company management, agreeing to complete their assignments on time, fulfilling all official obligations to the satisfaction of the management, and not using their IP as well as direct resources for making a profit—companies have recently said that this particular concern will be largely addressed when employees return to the workplace. 

Currently, Moonlighting is a grey area as there is no clarity in the law or employment contracts of companies. And with most companies asking their staff to get back to the workplace, it may be difficult for employees to moonlight. However, companies should place protocols that ensure privacy and data protection are not violated and to hold the employee accountable if some violation or conflict of interest is detected later on.