My previous employer wants me to fix a bug in the code I wrote while I was working for them. Should I provide assistance to them—on contract (paid) or for free—despite the fact I am no longer working for them?
Background: Last summer I worked as an intern for a large manufacturing company. The duration of my contract was fixed to 3 months. I was paid an hourly rate for my work. My job responsibilities entailed IT support and software development. The software project that I worked on was a fairly simple server application. I worked on the project exclusively. Initially the project seemed to be a success, the software was working as intended. Before my contract concluded and I left the company, I made sure to leave extensive documentation on how to use the program and how to edit the source code should they need to.
I did not sign a contract specifically pertaining to this software project and any post deployment assistance it may require.
Since then I have started working for a different company as a full-time software developer in a different country.
Problem: I have recently been contacted by my previous employer (this is over a year after my contract ended with them), saying that there is a small bug with the software that I previously wrote, and that they need my help to fix said problem. As previously mentioned I now work full-time in a different country. This means that going back there in person is out of the question. Though I do believe it will be possible to fix the bug remotely. If I were to help fix this bug it would require me to devote my free time (evenings/weekends) to assist them.
It is in my best interest to fix this bug so that I can still use the previous employer as a reference for future employment. I do not want them to be on bad terms with me.
Question: Should I negotiate a new contract with my previous employer and charge them money for this additional assistance that I would be providing them in my spare time? Or should I provide the assistance for free since it is my moral responsibility, even though I am not contractually obligated to?
Important update: My current employer has given me permission to work for the previous employer, provided that certain criteria is met:
- I provide them with regular updates on the progression and estimated duration of the project.
- I manage my time such that this additional work does not negativley impact my current work for them i.e. do not work late into the night before a work day.
- I keep silence to anybody else of the works I currently do for my current employer.