IT companies in India have begun browsing the website of the State-run social security and pension fund (known as EPFO) in an attempt to know whether any of their employees hold a second job, as moonlighting becomes a major issue in the industry, which is trending towards remote work.
Wipro Technologies made headlines recently after firing around 300 employees due to allegations of moonlighting.
Weeks later, Infosys, another IT giant based in the southern city of Bangalore, sent an email warning employess that they would be dismissed if caught holding a second job.
Soon after the firings, Wipro’s chairman Rishad Premji argued that moonlighting violates the “ethical and confidentiality” norms of IT companies.
Infosys CEO Salil Parekh confirmed that the company had also fired employees after catching them moonlighting, though he did not disclose the number of dismissed workers.
In recent weeks, just about every major IT company in the country has expressed concerns about moonlighting. HCL Tech and Tata Consultancy (TCS) also made it clear that they do not “approve” of dual employment.
Tech Mahindra, a mid-sized IT firm, stated that it would soon pen a policy as to which kind of gig work could be allowed.
Identifying a moonlighter is not a challenge in India, where the social security system is fully digitalized and no citizen can have two different pension accounts.
Officers at the state-run Employees Provident Funds Organization routinely run a de-duplication algorithm to know whether any worker is getting a pension from more than one employer. It later notifies the employers of such workers.
Employers can also do some browsing in the website themselves by using the Universal Account Number (UAN), which they obtain from their employees.
Growing Wave of Moonlighters
There is no official data as to how many IT professionals could be moonlighting. Aditya Misra, Chief Executive at staffing firm CIEL HR Services, told the country’s financial daily Economic Times that nearly 5% of IT employees might have a second job.
Less than 1% of these can be identified or caught off-guard, he added, pointing to the fact their “second employer” does not pay into their pension account.