At least 1% of IT workers have a side hustle: experts

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Remote working may have increased the chances of moonlighting during the pandemic with at least one in 100 employees in the IT services industry likely to have more than one job, according to executives at several recruitment services companies.

This is one of the reasons many organisations are now emphasising on employees returning to offices, they said.

According to IT industry lobby group Nasscom, IT companies in India employ about 5 million people.

If cases of moonlighting come into light, it leads to sacking as companies have zero tolerance for those moonlighting, experts said.

On Wednesday, Wipro chairman Rishad Premji said the Bengaluru-based company
terminated the services of 300 employees who it discovered were working for its competitors while still being on its payroll.

Anshuman Das, chief executive of Careernet, said his recruitment services firm had caught a candidate hiding his existing employment while onboarding him on behalf of an IT client. His dual employment came to light when the candidate shared his provident fund unique account number. His contract was immediately terminated by both firms, said Das.

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According to CIEL HR Services, as much as 5% of employees in the IT services industry have a side hustle. This is either for financial gains or out of interest and passion to work on something different from the day’s work, said its chief executive, Aditya Misra. “In rare cases (less than 1%) when they get caught with evidence, they face termination,” said Misra.

“Moonlighting candidates are always flying below the radar and do not inform their primary organisations. It’s only when they make specific requests like non-contribution to PF/UAN, etc., that rings alarm bells,” said Adecco India director Ramesh Alluri Reddy.

Remote working could have accentuated moonlighting in the industry. “Hence, many organisations, especially in the IT sector, are calling employees back to office, even if in a hybrid set-up,” said Yeshab Giri, chief commercial officer, Staffing & Randstad Technologies, Randstad India.

However, experts say, a large majority of employees are not misusing the WFH arrangement and that remote working is helping draw talent from non-metros and even from the women pool. For most employees, working remotely is for some genuine reasons. “These could be the comfort of working from home, reduced travel time, settling down in their hometown, responsibility of being a caregiver, etc.,” Reddy said.

Executives from companies like Tech Mahindra, UST and Sterlite Technologies told ET that employees could be trusted with remote or hybrid working as long as organisations take certain measures.

Reasons for the side-hustle culture include inadequate job satisfaction, transactional connect with the company, and the need for additional sources of income, according to Sterlite Technologies chief HR officer Anjali Byce. “Answer lies in addressing these undercurrents.”

But some organisations are not averse to more than one job, especially gig jobs. “There are many folks in our gig working company, BeGig, that work more than two jobs as a gig worker, and we welcome that. We have a transparent and open work culture,” said Harshvendra Soin, global chief people officer and head of marketing at Tech Mahindra. “We have always encouraged our people to chase their dreams,” Soin said.

“For many, WFH yielded new opportunities, especially in their free time. That’s primarily because of mismatched expectations,” said Kavita Kurup, global head of HR at UST, a digital solutions firm. The overnight shift to remote working helped people get rid of long commutes and it brought relatively more fluid work schedules, said Kurup.

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