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IT companies are increasing the pressure on undeclared workers

While moonlighting has long existed in the IT industry, the problem has become acute in the pandemic era as many employees work remotely, freeing them from constant surveillance, experts said.

The popularity of freelance websites such as Fiverr and Freelancer is also fueling the trend of moonlighting, with many employees agreeing to work on-demand during the pandemic to supplement their incomes after pay cuts.

With the cost of living soaring, many find it necessary to cover costs and protect against potential layoffs.

IT companies, however, fear the trend will affect productivity, create conflicts of interest and even cause data breaches. As a result, many suppress these activities.

For example, Blackstone Group-controlled technology company Mphasis, which employs more than 36,000 people, said it monitors employees to deter violators. To begin, Mphasis began comparing data from its staff provident funds to determine sources of additional income, if any. “We started checking the provident fund. We check, and if we find anything, we interview the employees,” said Srikanth Karra, Mphasis’ human resources director.

The company also identified high-risk profiles within its workforce and held internal discussions to combat undeclared work. “It used to be never really taken seriously, but now that we’ve started hearing about it, we’re looking for new employees,” Karra said.

Significantly, in many cases it was middle managers with an average experience of three to six years who were involved. “It’s the middle management layer, those with 3-6 years of work experience. It is a critical period. They’re 26-27, just married, etc., moving into project managers, project managers – the senior project layer,” Karra added.

Mumbai-headquartered IDfy, which provides identity verification services to customers to check for cases of fraud, said a growing number of IT companies were seeking help in detecting moonlighting. “Over the past two months, 40-50% of our IT customers want to know how to check if employees are moonlighting. credits from another company,” said Anupam Mukerji, vice president of marketing at IDfy.

About a week ago, Wipro executive chairman Rishad Premji called the moonlighting trend “cheating,” sparking a debate and bringing the long-simmering issue into the limelight. He tweeted: the tech industry. It’s cheating, plain and simple.”

At an industry event held last Friday, N. Ganapathy Subramaniam, COO of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, said employees must be ethical and moonlighting will not work long-term. “Employers need to instill ethics and be right…If you do something like this for short-term gains, long-term you’ll lose – that kind of message needs to go out to employees,” Subramaniam said. . .

However, Tech Mahindra CEO and Managing Director, CP Gurnani, said at the same event that he would “probably make it a policy” but that employees need to be open about it. “Most of us (IT companies) have efficiency and productivity goals, and they’re measurable, thanks to all the automation and AI,” Gurnani said at the same event. someone meets the standards of productivity and efficiency, and wants to make extra money, as long as they don’t commit fraud and do something that goes against the values ​​and ethics of the company, I have no problem.”

TCS and Tech Mahindra did not respond to Mint’s questions about this.

According to Kamal Karanth, co-founder of Xpheno, a recruitment solutions company, it is often the qualified specialists in the latest technologies who are in demand for black projects. “Labor on the bench or between projects is not in demand. Those who move from one project to another and whose skills are needed. So there’s a higher chance that they’re moonlighting,” Karanth said.

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