Should moonlighting be kind of nipped in the bud or should we go the Swiggy route where you accept what’s going on but let it happen within the boundaries that a company chooses to set?
I think employers have the right to set the conditions they want and employees have the right to accept or not accept that job. The single employment contract has changed into eight types of employment contracts. I pretty much agree with Wipro’s Rishad Premji that if you signed up for a full-time job, you should take a full-time job. Otherwise, you are welcome to work as a gig employee or as a consultant or as a part-time employee.
The issue raised here is about committing to a contract. If you want to change the contract, you are welcome to negotiate it. I know lifetime employment has been replaced by a taxi-cab relationship but I’m not sure it’s fair to sign one contract and then expect another.
A full-time job is a private job, and you are welcome not to go full-time or private. It would actually be asymmetric for employers to accept that. It is already asymmetric, employees can quit whenever they want but Indian labor laws don’t always allow employers to get rid of employees. So it’s probably unfair to say that I want to have a full time job that is exclusive and have the security of a steady income but will continue to do what I want.
Indian employers are very open to eight types of employment contracts. Employees should choose one and commit to it.
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If you have a permanent job for X number of hours a day to do X number of jobs and to do a specific job, why does that give the employer the right to your whole life and over your 24 hours and weekends and holidays? A job is not ownership of a person, is it?
Yes but there is an exclusivity in this particular type of contract that we have traditionally had. A man can have an open marriage. Most of us have chosen marriages or employment contracts that have a certain reciprocity in theme. I don’t think agreeing to work for an employer is slavery. Most of these workers do not work exactly 9 to 5. Most of the time, the work spills over. We are knowledge workers. This is not the factory system and the work is not such that factories have shifts and unions. Only 20% of India’s workforce is unionized. So I would say no this is not the claim that an employment contract requires exclusivity is one type of employment contract that deserves enforcement. If you don’t like it, there are seven other employment contracts and you should choose them.
Your analogy of an open marriage is very interesting. It is a convenience partnership. between two sides and the terms may not necessarily be asymmetric. When you have new people entering the workforce in their early 20s, do they have the ability to choose what kind of contract they get?
It is a myth that organizations pay salaries. Clients pay wages. Associations and shareholders do not pay salaries. This debate is not new. It seems new, but modernism is a disease that historians are against. You believe today’s situation is so special and unique and obviously technology allows remote working and working from home means working from anywhere and obviously portfolio skills are becoming the way to go in IT; it is Ronald Coase who received the Nobel Prize for his Coase’s Law. When business costs between freelancers become too high, it is better to stay inside an organization.
Coase’s law, which in the 1950s and 1960s stated that sometimes it is better for people not to be in organizations because transaction costs are low. Obviously the internet changes some of that but I don’t think big organizations are going anywhere and I think some people from a lifestyle choice might choose to be self-employed but some people like the predictability of a 9 to 5 job in exchange for the community, in exchange for not having to worry about where the paycheck is coming from.
So I would say that it would be a little self-evident to believe that everyone in Gen Z or Gen X or millennials is no different than us or our parents. I think it’s unfair to say that everyone wants to be independent or that everyone wants to win a gig. Some have a higher tolerance for uncertainty, some value flexibility and some value predictability. This diversity in human motives has existed for a long time.
Can anyone really do justice to more than one job with 24 hours a day or does there need to be some flexibility in what exactly that second gig is? Isn’t it better to have some flexibility to make sure that all this quiet quitting doesn’t come in? That you make sure people are ready to come back to work?
First, 5% of the workforce cannot work at home, they work with their hands and feet. Second, this nostalgia for job security only applies to about 10% or 15% of India’s workforce because 50% work in agriculture and 35% work in the informal sector. So we have to admit that this conversation is a sampling error for the Indian workforce, at least for now.
I’m not really sure it’s right to extrapolate the wants and desires of some people to the entire workforce. Those who want flexibility are welcome to choose flexibility. The problem is that they want to choose flexibility while looking for security and big organization. There is no Diet Coke job; you can’t have the flavor without the calories. If you want to work for a big company, have the predictability, have the security, have the community. You want to work independently, you welcome the flexibility, you welcome the uncertainty, but don’t expect the guarantees or guarantees that a large company does.
I don’t have a problem with diversity and I honestly don’t think so. I am sorry India has the largest gig economy in the world for the last 50 years. 50% of our workforce is self-employed. Be careful with presentism.
I agree that it is about the IT sector, it is about big companies. One would argue that people who do informal work anyway have plan A, plan B, plan C all the way to plan F and that’s a different story. We’re talking about a certain segment of workers and employers, and within that structure, my point is that this could be a newer pandemic-driven one. Do we need to start recognizing instead of saying it’s my way or the highway?
I think it would be very difficult for certain types of employers to be completely open architecture. What they can do is create eight different types of employment contracts that many of them have and people can choose which bucket they choose to be in. I don’t think you can have it both ways. You have to choose your life and you are welcome to choose your life.
India has created the world’s largest democracy but it is also the world’s most hierarchical society. Corporations are hierarchies. I’m just saying that I celebrate flexibility, I celebrate freedom, just choose your bed and sleep in it, don’t try to cut and paste the best in the world. Life is about choosing the package you want and all packages have pros and cons.
Do you think this debate will die down very quickly or are we just seeing the beginning of it?
Nobel laureate Ronald Coase said that every solution creates new problems. So let’s just be careful with this panacea kind of view. The debate has been going on for decades. It will last for several more decades and people and organizations will choose the side that suits them best. Just make your decisions and live with them. People in the middle of the road are hit by trucks from both sides.
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