3 fellows have been sued by their "parent company" for moonlighting – although it seems like there is more than meets the eye (and no, it’s not about transformers!). This caught my eye because moonlighting is quite prevalent in the software industry. While some programmers may hold full-time day jobs, the nature of the low pay (it’s a relative thing) may lead some of them to take on additional "simple" jobs outside office hours. Such jobs usually bring an addition $200 to $1000+ depending on the scope and duration of the job.

Some people have the perception that what they do outside office hours is their own problem, however, not every company thinks so. Some companies even stick their head into whatever part-time studies that some of their employees may be taking and question their necessity for it. The reason being – they are afraid that whatever they are doing outside office hours may take up their time and concentration during work. Moreover, overtime work is a given necessity in most IT jobs. If you don’t work till at least 8pm or 10pm, then you are not working hard enough and you do not deserve that 1/2 month bonus at the end of the year.

Unfortunately, unless you are some world-changing programmer that can code efficiently and effectively, the company usually does not believe that you have spent enough time in office. Sad isn’t it? At some places, it’s even frowned upon if you leave on the dot.

Anyway, upon reading the article in greater depth, it seems to be more complex than just simple moonlighting. However, it does serve as a reminder that your company can and may take legal action against you for moonlighting – to the extent of terminating your employment.

A WELL-KNOWN architectural firm has sued three interior designers for moonlighting.

Ong & Ong Architects argued that the three breached their employment contracts by doing so. It seeks a court order to stop them from using confidential information.

It also wants to know how much they made in profits via their alleged moonlighting.

But the defendants – Ms Rachel Yee, Mr Leslie Seow and Mr Ridzuan Sarbini – countered that they were not employees of Ong & Ong.

Ms Yee and Mr Seow said they were in a profit-sharing business venture with the firm and are counter-claiming about $230,000, which they say is their share of the profits under the joint-venture terms.

Mr Ridzuan argued that he had been seconded to Ong & Ong as part of an agreement.

The case opened in the High Court yesterday. Ong & Ong’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Philip Jeyaretnam, said that its chairman had approached Mr Seow, who was a partner with Ms Yee at a small interior design firm, Six Planes & Partners (SPP), in 2003.

This was part of a plan to acquire small companies and hire specialists so that the firm could provide integrated services, the court heard.

Mr Seow and Ms Yee signed employment letters, were paid fixed salaries and given leave entitlements and benefits, including Central Provident Fund contributions, said Mr Jeyaretnam.

He said Ms Yee and Mr Seow had agreed to stop doing business under the SPP name, but a deal was worked out to allow their firm to continue to exist so it could collect the money it had earned earlier.

Mr Ridzuan, who was with SPP then, was hired by Ong & Ong in March 2004, he said. Mr Jeyaretnam charged that the three provided services on their own and used the firm’s resources for these activities.

The three, represented by Mr Adrian Tan, denied being employees of Ong & Ong. Mr Seow and Ms Yee contended that, under the business venture, they were not prohibited from doing work under SPP.

They claimed the plaintiff had breached an agreement to pay them half the profits from interior design services, and accused it of infringing their copyright by passing off SPP’s works and awards as its own.

Mr Ong, the second son of late president Ong Teng Cheong, who founded the firm in 1972 with his wife Siew May, was the first witness.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 18th March 2008



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