I work for a company, and in my current role at this company my contract does not involve me writing code of any description or doing any development work. I have over the past few years been writing code in my own time on my own computer and the reason behind this is to benefit my current role. I appreciate that my company have benefited from my work that I did in my time and using my resources which I am not contracted to do but out of good will on my behalf.

I have come to a sticking point though where I have to stop doing this voluntary work and concentrate on the job I have been employed to do. My question is this, although I have read on here that the company owns my work (which I loth) can they force me to carry on doing it? secondly can they force me to teach someone else how to code or understand the code that i spent endless hours creating?

Any help would be appreciated Thanks again.

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    Can you clarify? The code you wrote at home was to benefit your work, but they didn't ask for you to do that? Does the company know you wrote it on your own time. What's the situation where this "home grown code" got into the work environment. Did you come in one day and say like "Hey, boss, here's a prototype that I wrote to help us do X better." – Brandin Mar 6 '15 at 11:51
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    It seems strange to me that 'the company owns my work', usually copyright can only transfer with explicit permission, especially when you write the code at home - and use no company resources for it - the code should be yours. (Then again, I haven't read your contract, and neither am I a lawyer, this might also depend on your country). – Dorus Mar 6 '15 at 12:04
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    @Dorus I have seen some contracts that state any programming work done is work product and therefore property of the company, including things coded for personal reasons on personal time. I tend to run from those unless the pay is really good (20-30% above market). In this case it would depend on the contract and the tools in question. – RubberChickenLeader Mar 6 '15 at 14:00
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    Why are you opposed to do this coding work on company time? If the company decides it is worthwhile to allocate your time to be spent on this (and not just add more work on top of what you already have), then why is this a bad thing? – David K Mar 6 '15 at 14:15
  • The customer is not always right. The customer is always the one holding the money. Sometimes you need to decide whether you'd rather be right or paid... – keshlam Mar 6 '15 at 20:26

Check your contract. In many (most) cases, if you're a salaried employee you have assigned them ownership of anything business-related that you do on OR off the job unless they explicitly say otherwise.

Beyond that: Refusing to teach another employee is a career-limiting action. Your assigned duties are what they assign you.

  • don't now why this is down voted its actually a good answer – Pepone Mar 6 '15 at 20:47

You are not a slave so they can not force you to do anything. But there could be consequences to refusing. They could assign that task to you and then you would have some obligation to the company based on your contract or employee agreement.

If you would like to extract yourself and your application from this situation I would recommend finding an alternative process that does not rely on the application you created, and convince the decision makers that the new process is better. This will mean that you no longer have any reason to support or train anyone else on the use of the application. Then do not repeat your mistake. Any development you do for the company should be on company time and using company resources.

If the company or you decide not to change the process I recommend consulting an attorney to safeguard yourself from liability over damages that might occur should your application fail and cost the company money. That attorney can also help you with your rights involving this application better than anyone on the internet is likely to do.

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