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You must be knowing some people who, in addition to a regular 9-5 job as the main source of income, work with another employer usually in the evening or night to supplement their income. This is called ‘moonlighting’ which, in simple words, means working a second job after regular business hours.
The name
This concept got its name “Moonlighting” as people doing so usually do a covert job, particularly at night.
Moonlighting is mainly divided into the following four types:
1. Blue Moonlighting
The scenario where an employee finds it difficult to manage both jobs is called blue moonlighting. Hence, the term denotes failed efforts at moonlighting.
2. Quarter Moonlighting
Quarter moonlighting is the practice where an employee works in a part-time job after his regular job.
3. Half Moonlighting
Usually, the term half moonlighting is used when the employee spends 50% of their available time at a part-time job.
4. Full Moonlighting
Full moonlighting is managing two full-time professions/jobs in parallel.
Some individuals even build their own businesses while continuing to work at their normal jobs. There can be even scenarios where the social status of the individual is determined by their second occupation.
Reasons behind popularity
Some of the reasons for the rising popularity of moonlighting are as follows:
1. Low salaries
Low salaries and incentives from a full-time job are not enough for the employees to maintain their living standards. Many companies in Pakistan have lower starting salaries. Another important reason for low salaries is the demand-supply equation that is always in favour of employers due to rampant unemployment in the country which leaves the thousands of educated youth of Pakistan with no option but to opt for a low starting package.
2. Rising inflation
People are compelled to work two jobs in order to support their lifestyles due to the rising cost of basic necessities as a result of inflation. It is especially because there is hardly any significant increase in an employee’s income even after spending 10-15 years of his/her life despite the fact that ever-soaring inflation renders people unable to meet their expenses.
3. Ensuring financial independence
The salaries offered by many employees may not be up to the mark to ensure living standards. Furthermore, new-generation employees are eager to attain financial independence at the earliest. The FIRE (Financial Independence; Retire Early) concept is popular among the modern youth. Without multiple income sources, it may be really difficult to ensure financial independence in the future.
4. Job insecurity
In private sector especially, firing employees is not something extraordinary. It makes many employees insecure insofar as their incomes are concerned. So, many people resort to moonlighting to ensure that they are not suddenly left without a source of income to meet their expenses.
5. Work-from-home trend
During the Covid-19 pandemic, countries enforced lockdowns to save people from the killer disease. It gave way to the new trends of working from home as employees got more time on their hands in this way. Further, there was no continuous supervision which usually happens in office jobs. Many employees took up a new hobby or activity that gives them an extra source of income.
6. The start-up culture
There is a new vigour among youth to start their own ventures, particularly inspired by many high-growth startups. The startup culture is a great motivation for many to moonlight. A regular job provides capital support for the founders of the start-ups. As the failure rate with startups is really high, a parallel job will provide a good backup option in case of closure.
7. Upgrading their skill-sets
In some circumstances, a person could think about concurrent employment to advance his/her skills and pursue a career path that feeds his/her interest and passion.
8. Utilization of extra time
Moonlighting has increased as a result of the transition to remote employment. Because of the work-from-home culture, employees’ days are longer because they spend less time going to and from the office. Some of the employees use this extra time for their side gigs.
Is moonlighting ethical?
The companies are split into two groups by moonlighting: old-school IT enterprises and new-school ones. For commercial reasons, the majority of traditional businesses forbid their staff from working for third parties. The new age group, meanwhile, thinks that morality should evolve through time.
A recent example
Moonlighting gained public attention, after Swiggy, a food aggregation company, permitted staff to work on outside projects for pay or for free subject to specific parameters and constraints in early August, this year. According to the recently initiated Swiggy’s Moonlighting Policy, their regular employees are free to take on any job or activity that can be completed after hours or on the weekend without affecting their productivity or posing a conflict of interest with the regular job. The organisation is of the opinion that working on such initiatives can greatly aid in an individual’s professional and personal growth.
Employers are concerned that workers would become distracted while juggling many tasks. That is why they are opposed to the trend.
A recent example
The US-based IT major IBM has made it clear where it stands on moonlighting. IBM claimed that the practice was unethical and that the employer did not encourage it in the workplace.
Reasons for companies’ aversion
1. Conflict of interest
Concerns centre on potential conflicts of interest caused by an employee working for a rival company or disclosing private or sensitive information.
2. Doubts regarding job performance
Companies are concerned that if a person overworks himself, it may affect his/her productivity or performance at the main job.
3. Misuse of employer’s resources
The use of company resources, such as computers and software, for a side business is also not appreciated by employers.
4. Absenteeism
Taking leave from the primary job for the side gigs is disdained.
5. Poor attentiveness and fatigue
Employees who double up may experience physical and mental tiredness, which results in the inability to focus, lethargy, and other health-related problems. The growth of the business where they work full time is gradually impacted by this.

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