Moonlighting was a term used to describe someone (typically a professional like an attorney or physician) who has a second job or job besides their full-time one. It’s a phenomenon that has existed forever and has recently come into the limelight as several cases were highlighted in the news. Since the pandemic struck in 2020, moonlighting took on a new life. With employees working only from home coupled with the financial stress of job insecurity, many people began taking on dual or even triple employment. Slowly and steadily, moonlighting as a topic began becoming a point of discussion in the employment world. And for quite some time, the business world has been abuzz with whether or not moonlighting should be legalized. If you are a business policy maker, it is time to seriously think about how to create a proper moonlighting clause in employment contract.

Moonlighting clauses mention the legality and cons of moonlighting in most employment contracts, to ensure it doesn’t disrupt your contractual obligations in terms of employment hours and working day commitments. In order to prevent employees from working a second job without prior approval, employers can include a moonlighting clause in employment contract for employees. A well-designed moonlighting clause can help ensure that employees notify their employer of any outside employment and do not take on work that would conflict with their primary job duties.

“Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.”

– Simon Sinek, renowned leadership expert

Why is a moonlighting clause necessary to have in an employment contract?

There are many reasons why employees may want to moonlight, including earning extra income, gaining new skills or experience, or simply exploring a new interest. While moonlighting can be a great way for employees to enrich their lives and careers, it can also pose risks to their employer.

From an employer’s perspective, there are various concerns that moonlighting causes. The first might be that employees who moonlight will be too tired to perform their job duties effectively. The second might be that employees will not be able to devote the necessary time to their job if they are also working another job. Employers may be concerned that employees who moonlight may be more likely to make errors or take shortcuts on the job, which could lead to accidents or other safety issues. Or they may be less loyal to their company and more likely to leave for another job if they are not satisfied with their current position. Another major concern is that the security of their confidential data may be compromised if the same employee works for multiple companies. And lastly, firms are hesitant to invest in the growth of their employees via training etc. if they’re using these investments for the benefit of other firms as well.

A moonlighting clause is a necessity in an employment contract because it protects the employer from any legal liabilities that may arise from the employee working another job. It also helps to ensure that the employee is fully dedicated to their primary job and not spreading themselves too thin. The clause will outline the specific conditions under which the employee is allowed to work on another job and what, if any, restrictions there are.

Why use a design thinking mindset to draft a moonlighting work policy?

why use a design thinking mindset for moonlighting work policy

There are many reasons to use a design thinking mindset when drafting a moonlighting work policy. The advantages of incorporating Design Thinking are numerous. First, it allows you to take into account the needs of all stakeholders involved in the policy. Second, it helps you to create a policy that is responsive to the ever-changing environment in which businesses operate. Third, it allows you to anticipate and solve problems that may arise from the implementation of the policy.

When using a design thinking mindset, it is important to keep in mind the following principles: user-centeredness, collaboration, iteration, and experimentation. User-centeredness means that the needs of employees should be at the forefront of the policy development process. Collaboration among all stakeholders – including employees, managers, and HR – is essential to ensure that the final policy meets everyone’s needs. Iteration and experimentation are key to developing a flexible and adaptable policy that can evolve over time as business conditions change.

The use of a design thinking mindset can help to create a moonlighting work policy that is effective and responsive to the needs of employees and businesses.

How design thinking can help formulate the right moonlighting work policy?

Organizations are increasingly seeing the value in design thinking when it comes to developing policies and practices. The moonlighting clause in an employment contract is a great example of how design thinking can be used to create a policy that benefits both employers and employees.

moonlighting clause in employment work policy

When developing a policy for moonlighting, organizations should keep the following in mind:

The goal of the policy should be to allow employees to pursue outside work that is compatible with their role within the organization. The policy should not be used as a way to restrict employee creativity or prevent them from exploring new opportunities.

The policy should strike a balance between protecting the interests of the organization and giving employees the freedom to pursue outside work. For example, the policy should clearly state what types of outside work are allowed and what types are not allowed.

The policy should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in technology, work schedules, and employee roles. For example, the policy should allow employees to moonlight using new technologies such as video conferencing or online collaboration tools.

When it comes to designing a moonlighting clause in an employment contract, it is important to consider the specific roles and responsibilities of the employees involved. By taking a role-specific approach, you can ensure that the clause accurately reflects the expectations of both the employer and the employee. In order to create a role-specific moonlighting clause, you will need to consider the following:

  1. The specific duties of the employee in question.
  2. The amount of time that the employee is expected to devote to their primary job.
  3. The impact that the secondary job may have on the primary job.
  4. The potential for conflict between the two jobs.
  5. The employer’s business needs and objectives. 

By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can craft a fair and balanced moonlighting clause that is grade or role-specific. This might mean that a company allows moonlighting for certain roles and bans them for certain other roles. For example, if a role gives access to highly confidential company data, an employee in such a role will have a no-tolerance policy for moonlighting. Whereas, a less-sensitive role like front-office administration may allow moonlighting.

Creating a fair and just moonlighting clause in employment contract – 5 ways DT can help

When it comes to moonlighting, employers typically have one of two approaches: either they forbid it outright, or they allow it but place restrictions on what employees can do and how they must go about seeking approval. Design thinking offers a third way that can help create a fair and effective moonlighting policy for both employers and employees.

Here are five ways design thinking can be applied to create a fair moonlighting clause in employment contract:

  1. Define the problem you’re trying to solve

The first step in any design thinking process is to define the problem you’re trying to solve. In this case, you need to identify what it is about moonlighting that presents a risk or opportunity for your business. For example, the company’s policy maker should ask themself – Are you worried about employees working for competitors? Are you concerned about them taking on too much work and impacting their performance at their day job? Or are you excited about the potential for employees to develop new skills and grow your business in new directions? Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start to craft a policy that addresses it.

  1. Empathize with your employees

The second step in design thinking is to empathize with those who will be affected by the policy. In this case, that means understanding why employees want to moonlight in the first place. What are their motivations? Do they want to earn extra money? Do they want to develop new skills? Do they want to pursue a passion outside of work? By understanding employees’ motivations, you can develop a policy that meets their needs while still protecting your business interests.

  1. Develop creative solutions

The third step in design thinking is to develop creative solutions to the problem at hand. In this case, that means coming up with a moonlighting policy that meets the needs of both employers and employees. For example, one option is to allow employees to moonlight as long as they disclose their outside work to their supervisor and get approval before taking on any new projects. Another option is to create a moonlighting committee that reviews employee requests and approves or denies them based on factors such as potential conflicts of interest, workload, and impact on company resources.

  1. Test and refine your solution

The fourth step in design thinking is to test and refine your solution. In this case, that means piloting your moonlighting policy with a small group of employees and seeing how it works in practice. If you find that the policy is having the desired effect, you can then roll it out to a larger group of employees. If you find that there are some problems with the policy, you can go back to the drawing board and come up with a new solution.

  1. Implement and evaluate

The final step in design thinking is to implement and evaluate your solution. In this case, that means putting your moonlighting policy into place and monitoring its effects. Are employees taking advantage of it? Do they find it helpful? Are there any problems with it that you need to address? By constantly evaluating your policy, you can make sure it’s achieving the desired results.


When it comes to moonlighting clauses in employment contracts, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, make sure that the clause is clear and concise. Second, be sure to include any relevant information about compensation and hours. Third, consider specifying what type of work can be done outside of the contract. Fourth, be aware of your company’s policies on moonlighting. Finally, remember to get the approval of all parties involved before adding a moonlighting clause to an employment contract.

With these guidelines in mind, you can be sure that your moonlighting clause is fair and beneficial for all parties involved.

If you find yourself in the position of needing to negotiate a fair moonlighting clause in an employment contract, design thinking can be a helpful tool. By approaching the problem from multiple angles and taking into consideration the needs of all parties involved, you can arrive at a solution that is fair and beneficial for everyone. With a little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, you can come up with a clause that meets the needs of both employer and employee. Give it a try!

About the author

A Haryanvi by origin, an entrepreneur at heart and a consultant by choice, that’s how Ajay likes to introduce himself! Ajay is the Founding Partner at Humane Design and Innovation Consulting (HDI). Before starting HDI, Ajay founded the Design Thinking and Innovation practice at KPMG India. His 16+ years of professional career spans across various roles in product and service design, conducting strategy workshops, storytelling and enabling an innovation culture. He has coached 50+ organizations and 2000+ professionals in institutionalizing design and innovation practices. He loves to blog and speak on topics related to Design Thinking, Innovation, Creativity, Storytelling, Customer Experience and Entrepreneurship. Ajay is passionate about learning, writing poems and visualizing future trends!

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