Wipro lays off 300 employees for moonlight

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Wipro chairman Rishad Premji said services have been terminated in those specific instances of violation.

New Delhi:

Wipro Ltd has laid off some 300 employees for ‘moonlighting’ as the IT services company tightens its stance against staffers taking second jobs after hours.

Chairman Rishad Premji, who is an outspoken critic of Moonlight, said the company has no place for employees who choose to work directly with rivals while on Wipro’s payroll.

Moonlighting is a “complete violation of integrity in its deepest form,” he said at an AIMA event.

“The reality is that today there are people working for Wipro and directly for one of our competitors and we’ve even discovered 300 people doing just that in the last few months,” said Mr. Premji.

When questioned later about the measures taken against the 300 employees, he said services have been terminated in those specific instances of violation.

IT companies worry that employees who take part-time jobs after regular working hours will affect productivity, lead to conflicts of interest and potential data breaches.

Mr Premji has been an outspoken critic of it, equating it with “cheating” in the recent past.

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Last month he took to Twitter to say, “There’s a lot of talk about people making extra money in the tech industry. This is cheating – plain and simple.” His tweet sparked a lot of industry reaction, with many IT companies acting wary against such practices.

Infosys sent a message to its employees last week, stressing that double employment is not allowed, and warning that any breach of contract clauses will result in disciplinary action “which could even lead to termination of employment.”

“No Double Timing – No Moonlight!” Infosys, India’s second largest IT services company, had said in a strong and powerful message to employees last week.

Infosys’ internal communication, titled ‘no double living’, had made it clear that ‘double employment is not allowed under…Employee Handbook and Code of Conduct’.

It also quoted the relevant clause in the offer letter to bring the point home.

“Any violation of these clauses will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment,” the Infosys email said.

IBM India also joined the chorus on moonlight, calling it an unethical practice.

IBM’s general manager for India and South Asia, Sandip Patel, had reasoned that upon joining the company, the company’s employees will sign an agreement stating that they will work only for IBM. “…despite what people can do in the rest of their time, it’s not ethically right to do that (moonlighting),” Patel had said.

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However, not everyone agreed.

Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani recently tweeted that it is necessary to change with the times, adding: “I welcome disruption in the way we operate”.

On Wednesday, during a speech at AIMA’s (All India Management Association) National Management Convention, Mr. Premji tried to clarify why he took a strong stance on the issue of moonlight, saying that his opinion was “sincerely intended to help people interpreted”.

Mr Premji said he stands by his recent comments that undeclared work is a complete violation of integrity “in its deepest form”, citing cases where 300 employees worked simultaneously for Wipro and its competitors.

Asked about the measures taken against employees who worked for the company and rivals at the same time, Mr Premji, on the sidelines of the event later said that their employment had been terminated for “violation of integrity”.

The definition of moonlight itself is about secretly having another job. As part of transparency, individuals can have candid and open conversations around, for example, playing in a band or working “on a project over the weekend,” he explained.

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“That’s an open conversation where the organization and the individual can make a joint choice about whether it works for them or not for them as an organization,” he said.

Trying to distinguish such cases from those where employees secretly also worked for competitors, Premji said, “there is no room for anyone to work for Wipro and competitor XYZ and they would feel exactly the same if they discovered the same situation.”

“That’s what I meant…so I stand by what I said…I think it’s a breach of integrity if you update in that shape and form,” Mr Premji said.

With the thorny issue in the spotlight, some industry watchers have warned that employers may want to consider additional precautions to protect proprietary information and business models, especially when employees work remotely. Companies could also be stricter on exclusivity clauses in employment contracts, according to analysts.

(This story was not edited by The Switzerland Times staff and was generated automatically Platforms.)

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