Clearing its stand on the legality of moonlighting by employees, the government has said that workers can't take any extra work against the interest of their employers.

Moonlighting is a scenario in which an employee works more than one job. Usually, the moonlighting employee has one full-time job and one part-time job.

"As per the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946, a workman shall not at any time (type of) work against the interest of the industrial establishment in which he is employed and shall not take any employment in addition to his job in the establishment, which may adversely affect the interest of his employer," Minister of State for Labour & Employment Rameshwar Teli said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

Teli said this in response to BJP MP Sumalatha Ambareesh's query on whether the government considers moonlighting to be a good reason for a company to sack employees.

"Employment and retrenchment including lay-offs are a regular phenomenon in industrial establishments. No specific information is available to indicate that layoffs are happening due to moonlighting," Teli further said.

These comments come months after Wipro fired 300 employees for moonlighting. Infosys too had warned its employees that engaging in moonlighting can lead to termination of services. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest IT services provider, also doesn't support gig work or dual employment by its employees.

While legacy IT firms have rejected gig work, new-age startups like Swiggy and edtech unicorn Emeritus have supported it. In August, food delivery startup Swiggy introduced a 'moonlighting policy' which allowed employees to pick up additional projects outside work.

In an interaction with Fortune India last week, Debjani Ghosh, president of the National Association of Software & Services Companies (NASSCOM), said, "The gig economy is very, very real. I mean, I may not want to do full time job, but I may want to use my skills to do multiple jobs across different companies and that is definitely a model that this industry is not just embracing, but we are figuring out how to build it out, so that people who want that flexibility get it."

Ghosh, however, said that the problem starts when there is no trust or transparency. "In our industry, a lot of our work requires a high level of security, so that is absolutely not acceptable, and companies should have a zero tolerance for that kind of lack of transparency or lack of trust," she added.

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