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BENGALURU : Wipro Ltd sacked 300 employees after discovering they were working concurrently for rival technology services companies, including Infosys Ltd and Tech Mahindra Ltd, toughening its stance against moonlighting and reaffirming that the company will not tolerate dual employment.

“The reality is that there are people today working for Wipro and working directly for one of our competitors, and we have actually discovered 300 people in the last few months who are doing exactly that," Wipro chairman Rishad Premji said at an event of All India Management Association in New Delhi.

All 300 employees had fewer than three years’ work experience and joined the company during the past two years, according to an executive privy to the development.

“There is no space for someone to work for Wipro and competitor XYZ, and they would feel exactly the same way if they were to discover the same situation," Premji said on Wednesday.

Although Premji did not share details of what is arguably the first of a kind incident of a company firing hundreds of employees over moonlighting, an executive privy to the development said that all these employees were fired earlier this month.

A once-a-year internal audit of employees and vendors at Wipro in July by accessing the Universal Account Number (UAN) from the employers’ portal of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation showed these employees were working at other IT firms at the same time.

UAN is a 12-digit unique number assigned to an employee in the organized sector. Companies have the UAN of each employee and can access details, including previous and current employment.

“As the audit was completed, the HR team sought an explanation from each employee. A few of them, about six, voluntarily resigned," said the first executive cited above.

This internal revelation riled the top brass of Wipro and prompted Premji to take to social media to admonish the practice of moonlighting.

“There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. This is cheating—plain and simple," he tweeted on 20 August, setting off a debate about the practice.

Larger rival Infosys also warned its employees in an email earlier this month that the company does not allow its employees to take on additional work with other firms. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd’s chief operating officer N.G. Subramaniam, too, called it an ethical issue.

IT services companies find themselves battling moonlighting as the majority of their workforce continues to work from home. Not more than 20% of the workforce at the five largest IT firms is working from the office, according to executives at these companies.

“One of the reasons why we have been asking our employees to start working from the office is to make the new recruits, many of who have not entered an office, understand the culture of an organization," an executive at TCS said on the condition of anonymity.

Technology services firms, already battling high attrition, fear that more people could quit if they are made to come to the office regularly. For this reason, IT firms have asked employees to work from the office twice a week.

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