Moonlighting and job cuts issue: Read government’s written reply in Lok Sabha

In what can be called as likely the first time so far, the Centre government has cleared its stand on the legality of ‘moonlighting’. In a written reply in Lok Sabha, the government quoted existing industrial laws to state that workers shall not take up any extra work that may “adversely affect” the interest of their employers. Rameshwar Teli, junior labour and employment minister said this in a written reply to BJP MP Sumalatha Ambareesh‘s question about whether the government considers moonlighting to be a good reason for a company firing its employees, and if it has seen an increase in layoffs due to moonlighting. Here are the four questions asked on the topic with their written replies.
Four questions asked in Lok Sabha on moonlighting and layoffs
Q. Whether the government considers moonlighting to be an efficient reason for firing of employees and if so, the details thereof;
Written reply: As per the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946, a workman shall not at any time 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.

Q. Whether the Government has observed that layoffs are happening as a result of Moonlighting and if so, the details thereof:
Written reply: 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.
Q. Whether the Government has undertaken any study on moonlighting in the country and if so, the details thereof; and
Written reply: No, Sir
Q. Whether the Government has instructed companies not to fire employees as a result of moonlighting and if so, the details regarding any actions taken by the Government to stop firing as a result of moonlighting?
Written reply: Matters relating to lay off and retrenchment in industrial establishments are governed by the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (ID Act) which also regulates various aspects of layoffs and conditions precedent to retrenchment of workmen. As per the ID Act, establishments employing 100 persons or more are required to seek prior permission of the appropriate government before effecting closure, retrenchment or layoff.

Further, any retrenchment and layoff are deemed to be illegal which is not carried out as per the provisions of ID Act. The ID Act also provides for the right of workmen laid off and retrenched for compensation and it also contains provision for re-employment of retrenched workmen. Based on their respective jurisdictions as demarcated in the ID Act, Central and State Governments take actions to address the issues of the workmen and protect their interests as per the provision of the Act.
In the establishments that lie in the jurisdiction of the Central Government, the Central Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM) is entrusted with the task of maintaining good Industrial relations and protecting the interest of workers including on the matters relating to lay off and retrenchment and their prevention. The jurisdiction in the matters with regard to multi-national and Indian companies in the IT, social media, Edutech firms and related sectors lie with the respective state governments.
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