LLast week, Wipro fired 300 employees for undeclared work. Undeclared work is the practice of having a secondary source of income in addition to a primary one. The news has plagued readers with an influx of information about how companies can deal with undeclared work, what it means, heated debates about whether what the tech giant did was right or wrong, how the company found out that employees illegal work and much more. While all of this information is important, I could not find an article on why employees choose undeclared work.
As someone about to enter the workforce, I can understand the refusal to discuss the perspectives of the people at the heart of this problem – the workers who hold two jobs. There is tremendous information on social media and in every financial help book you could read that having more than one source of income is actually a necessity for most people to be able to save. Millennials and GenZs are entering a corporate world that is competitive, ruthless and grossly ill-equipped to deal with our generation as workers. Young adults already live in tremendous financial anxiety. Post-pandemic fears of unemployment, inconsistent pay and job insecurity have marginalized many. In situations like these, is it still feasible to blame people for scrambling for as many sources of income as they can get their hands on?
I choose to switch through the lens, which might address the issue; Instead of looking at it as workers who have two sources of income, maybe we could look at it as workers who have to work two jobs? I think this tiny shift in perspective could transform our agency exponentially to deal with the problem.
While I would like to believe in an ideal world where everyone gets paid to do what they love and follow their passion, the world we live in is far from ideal. So many people work in jobs they don’t like; The reasons can be varied – the need for a stable income, family, fear of starting something new in the middle of your career and much more. Many people who take on part-time jobs are just trying to feed their appetite for growth, learning, and doing what they love.
The pandemic has created major economic imbalances for thousands of Indians. The brunt was borne by many younger people who lost their jobs and couldn’t find new ones. Even in the wake of the pandemic – the effects of which the corporate world can still feel in movements like the “Quiet Surrender” and the Great Resignation – most countries have failed to take action to help their employees recover. India boasts of its gigantic population as a “human resource” but has failed to implement policies and laws to ensure the productivity of this human resource. The Great Resignation in the US was a consequence of this government incompetence.
Also read: What is quiet cessation? Researchers explain the increasing withdrawal of employees
While it is undeniable that employees who hold two jobs could pose a threat to the integrity and security of both organizations, the fact that most of these people need those jobs is also undeniable. Undeclared work sheds a blinding light on the gaps between what employment means in today’s world and the basic reality of how corporate workforces deal with it.
Solutions to these problems can be found in simple, grass-roots actions – better educational opportunities, guidance to help students make career choices, economic security so students can choose careers based on interest rather than necessity, and the creation of Guidelines to keep up with the moving world. Rather than focusing on the broader fiasco surrounding employees who were fired for alleged undeclared work, there might be significant benefit to be gained from learning more about why employees choose to work two jobs initially and how we can shape policies which help them avoid the need to have two jobs.
Ruchi Shahagadkar is a student at FLAME University, Pune. Views are personal.