I'm working with a small company that produces electronic devices such as dataloggers and electronic sensors. I used to be a full time employee there but due to some personal problems I'm now working part time.
Recently they have decided that there is an urgent need to implement some of the SCADA protocols in their products. The guy who is writing microcontroller programs said that I do not have the necessary skill to do this (yeah he is not getting fired for that or anything).
Now they have come to me and said you must implement these protocols for us. As a C# programmer I googled a bit and saw some C# implementation of these protocols and I said that I can but I do not know how to write programs for microcontrollers. So they proposed that we use a mini PC with some special packaging to create a windows environment inside the device for my program to run.
Since I'm almost doing all of the work and there is almost no team effort here, should I demand a percentage of the money they are getting from these devices?

  • We are in good terms.
  • These devices are going to be way more expensive than our older devices and provide a huge market opportunity for them.
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    What is your goal here? Being not given any more work and seen as someone demanding too much? Because that really seems to be what you try to achieve. – TomTom Sep 26 '20 at 13:20
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    Are they paying you a market salary for the work? – Kat Sep 27 '20 at 17:29
  • @Kat For this project separately? No. It's been offered as a "do this among other things" – Abol_Fa Sep 29 '20 at 5:24
  • @Abol_Fa so this project is part of your normal work duties and will be completed during normal work hours and you're being compensated for your time? – Kat Sep 29 '20 at 17:22

No, you should not do this.

Your reasoning seems to be "I'm doing this all on my own, therefore I should reap the rewards of success." However you're not doing it on your own. Other people in your company did all of the following:

  • Identified a need in the market

  • Acquired customers

  • Figured out how to let you program microcontrollers when you don't know how to directly

  • Raised funding for equipment, software, office space, salaries, etc

And so on. If you were all on your own, you would not be creating and selling this product. If the company didn't have you, they'd be able to hire someone else with your skills. You can't claim credit for the profits from this product.

More importantly, you aren't taking any risk: if this product completely flops for whatever reason, even if the company goes under because it fails so catastrophically, you still get a full salary for the time you put into it. Generally if you are compensated based on company performance, that compensation replaces your cash salary, even if only partially. The idea is if the company is successful, you get rewarded, but if it fails, you don't.

Are you prepared to put a bunch of time into this work without any immediate compensation? Are you willing to risk never being compensated if the product is not successful for any reason? My guess is not, but if you are, you could ask to replace some of your salary with stock options. Or if it's a publicly traded company, you can just use your salary to buy stock. If this product will generate as much money as you think, then the share price should go up and you'll get your share of the profits. (Be careful to not violate any insider trading laws, of course.)

If you're hoping to keep your full salary and also get a percentage of profits on top of that, forget it. You can't expect rewards without taking any risk. However you can use your involvement in a successful project during performance reviews as leverage for raises, promotions, and bonuses. If you're not looking to take on a bunch of risk, that's the route I'd recommend you go.

  • I think this is one of those times that greed took over me. – Abol_Fa Sep 29 '20 at 19:55
  • +1000. I think this is what sucks a lot of people into the Socialist/Workers mindset: they see the profits not going proportionally to the labor... without stopping to think: if there's a bad month/year/decade, labor still gets paid. – Kevin Oct 23 '20 at 20:41

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