In my current job I've been faced with totally unrealistic expectations since the beginning.

Naive as I am, I worked 70h/week (everything above 40 being unpaid) for several months.

Since my boss resulted to be a jerk who offered me 0 recognition for that, I'm planning to leave the company soon.

There are several scripts however which I created in my "free", i.e. unpaid time but used for work. In my work contract there's a sentence that everything created on my work computer is company's property. I did not create the scripts on my work computer or during my paid working hours. I did copy it on the work computer and I've been using it on my work computer though.

I don't want the company to have the script when I'm gone. I hope I'm right that the company has no right to the scripts.

Should I simply delete them? But then the company can recover my deleted files. Or should I explain before leaving that the company has no right to these files.

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    I VTC as what you need is legal advice, and yet you didn't even provide what country are you from. In most of the 1st world by creating those scripts for work, and then using them at work with company resources without license agreement in place you have very much handed them over to the business. And lets be honest, the only reason you want them out is out of spite, not for genuine care of them belonging to you. Nov 3 '20 at 22:42
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    Don't get dragged into petty squabbles. Let go. Walk away. Move on. Nov 3 '20 at 23:28
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    When you train, or if, your replacement just say sort this or calculate this and not mention the scripts.
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 4 '20 at 5:50
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    @JoeStrazzere It is important to emphasize that the company absolutely has rights to the scripts, but the OP has exactly 0 obligations to develop it into a full fledged application with support. OP is under no obligation to "make it work" for someone else. I would question if he even has obligation to document it at all, since it isn't part of his normal responsibilities. The OP has opportunity to negotiate for a completely new contract outlining work specific to the scripts. This is where a lawyer will help to flesh out what the obligations are.
    – Nelson
    Nov 4 '20 at 7:41
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    As a matter of law, the company probably has a right to keep the scripts. As a matter of practicality, if the company doesn't know the scripts exist, you can quietly delete them off any company systems and never mention them again.
    – Kaz
    Nov 4 '20 at 14:44

It seems to me that the scripts you are talking about are at the moment only used by yourself to automate/facilitate some of your tasks. If that is indeed the case don't delete them but just keep quiet about them. I don't think the company will actively go through your computer after you left to see if they find some interesting/useful scripts/programs. Even if they do go through it, I doubt they will take the time and effort to find out exactly what the scripts do and what they can be used for.

Bottom line: don't fret too much about the company "stealing" your scripts, they probably won't even bother.

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    Most likely,l the company will format OP computer when he leaves (maybe after waiting some months / the next person needing the hardware to come up). So the company will be deleting the script, and thus OP could not be blamed for its deletion.
    – Ángel
    Nov 4 '20 at 0:05
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    The likelihood of the scripts to work for someone else is next to zero. I developed a script that worked flawlessly for myself for over a year, got some opportunity to deploy it to within the department across 60 machines, and it never worked 100% on all the machines. I had to strip out a lot of the more complex functions, and coded very defensively to accommodate the most general use case. It ended up with less than 25% of the full functions that I had because most people are not programmers and don't know how to use it. I also couldn't be bothered to create a GUI for it.
    – Nelson
    Nov 4 '20 at 7:38
  • And any good system admin will know, you don't run random "scripts" from someone unless you know what it does, and they wouldn't (unless you told them).
    – Nelson
    Nov 4 '20 at 7:39
  • You might also consider renaming the scripts in unhelpful ways, or moving them to locations in your directory structure where it's not immediately obvious what they're for.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 5 '20 at 19:57

You'd need an employment lawyer to look at all the agreements that you've signed but unless the company is incompetent, a script you developed in the course of your job, installed on your work computer, and ran regularly as part of your employment is going to belong to the company. Deleting work-related information in the hope of depriving your employer of it is a potentially serious criminal issue.

You could retain a lawyer and pay them to figure out whether you have a legal leg to stand on but that doesn't seem like a productive use of your time and money. The scripts, presumably, have no value to you outside the company. You're understandably upset by the company's behavior in not recognizing the time you invested. Don't compound the mistake by investing a bunch more time and money into figuring out whether how petty you're legally allowed to be.

Realistically, you're also going to want references and goodwill from the people you're currently working with. When a future employer calls to confirm your employment, you don't want your current employer ranting that you sabotaged their systems on your way out. And the world is a small place-- you're very likely going to run into current colleagues in the future at different companies. You don't want them walking around saying that you sabotaged a previous employer. Even if doing so would make you feel better in the current moment.

Take your lumps, learn your lessons, and move on. Take the high road and leave with your head held high. Just don't let your next employer take advantage of you.

  • You're making quite a few of assumptions here though. I won't need references. And it was my boss that burned the bridge. If you are repeatedly told you suck and lied about you have a limited ability to sympathize with the person who does that unless you aren't right in your head.
    – user52674
    Nov 3 '20 at 23:09
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    Yes, I'm assuming that you intend to put this job on a resume. If you plan on putting it on your resume, future employers will call to confirm employment and ask about you. I'm not arguing that your current employer behaved well. I'm perfectly happy believing that they treated you terribly. It doesn't change the fact that investing a bunch of time and money in figuring out how to legally screw them on your way out the door is not going to be a productive way to spend your time. Nov 3 '20 at 23:40
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    The scripts weren't developed "in the course of your job", though.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 5 '20 at 19:56
  • @BenBarden - They're scripts that do something useful as a part of the original poster's job. They're scripts that are installed on a work machine. If the company had recognized the original poster's efforts, there is every reason to believe that these scripts would be part of that recognition. That sounds very much like something done in the course of one's job. Nov 5 '20 at 21:21
  • @JustinCave In a very literal sense, they are not. There are hours that one does ones job, and hours that one does not. These were not things that were created "in the course of his job". They were instead things that he created on his own time, with his own materials, that he then leveraged to the benefit of his job. That's something very different, as far as ownership goes.
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 5 '20 at 22:03

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