This is related to this question. In summary, I had a 5 month contract working for a large company doing programming. It was not written in the contract, but the verbally implied expectations is that after 5 months I would have built a complete program from scratch to finish (in other words, all I did in the job was build the program for one project, but the contract just had start date and end date).

On the last hour of the last day my boss had me make changes which left the program in a bad state. I reverted to a backup, but the boss said it was too old. My boss wants me to come back in and fix it. This would be unpaid work The reasons I'm hesitant to do that are:

  1. I don't want to get roped into doing more work. The output of the program is several tables in the db are updated so wouldn't want to be caught in "this column should be x, not y".
  2. I'm not sure if it is legal. I have the email correspondence but I don't think they want an actual signed contract.
  3. The time it would take for the overhead to get done. I have signed out of the building and returned my security cards. Also I'm back in school and would have to miss class. Also I now live farther away and it would probably take me almost as long to get back to work and leave as it would to do the actual work.
  4. My boss severely micromanages and pokes around in my code at inopportune time. When he's stressed he comes in every 20 minutes and tells me to change certain lines which he doesn't know what they do.

My proposed solution. To work from home. From home I won't be pressured into doing more work, I wouldn't have to miss class and can do it at my convenience, my boss wouldn't be there to disrupt me. Also I'm afraid if I go back to work since it has already been a few days since I left, the IT department (which is in a different city) would have closed my account or removed my permissions from the database. My question is, I need help writing a message to my boss and his boss stating I need to do this from home.

Hi Mr.Boss,

Given our schedules I wasn't able to find a time that would work well to come in to the office. The best solution would be to send me the source code I made, and a sample of the tables in the database it uses. I will work on it from home and return to you the finished product.

What do you think? There's a person in the building who's job is database admin and I think if I'm doing this work for free it wouldn't be an unreasonable request for them to put in an hour to export part of the database. I am 99% sure the data is not proprietary but if it is perhaps I can get fake data? I set up my development environment at work by myself, and all the software is free (e.g. Postgres) so I know I can do it at home.

Also, this job was through my schools co-op program. My co-op coordinator wants me to finish the job off. Also, my boss said not to use version control...and embarrassingly I've never successfully bean able to teach myself it (though I did make backups).

Though they're trying to play it up as if I agreed to come back, technically I haven't yet.

This is not a duplicate as the previous question had answers explaining why I should go back in and fix. This question is asking how do I negotiate (in particular how do I phrase the email) doing the work from home, and setting boundaries?

UPDATE: my boss rejected the idea of working from home and I came into the office to fix things up. Now he's complaining it's not working again and wants me to come back to show him how it runs. This is ridiculous as it's an executable and it does run. So I'm going to tell them no.

  • I'm missing from your question - Why do you want to do this!? If you're done with your contract and already finished the handover and explained the state of your program to your boss... you're done.
    – Brandin
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 6:49
  • 1
    I wouldn't call this a duplicate of the previous even though the situation is the same but the question here is still off-topic as we're not really a professional writing service. Additionally you provide way too much information and it looks like you're still asking for advice with the whole situation instead of asking just one, practically answerable question. I'd urge you to join the chat to ask for some help in crafting a question that would be better suited to our format and is more likely to receive answers instead of being closed as unclear.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 9:06
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    I should point out that working for free is illegal in the US. IANAL, but in the absence of a contract you'd probably be de facto considered an employee so that you were informally paid to deliver a product won't matter unless you end up fighting this out in court.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 9:24
  • Don't waste energy thinking about legal/illegal for something so trivial. Since this is a school-related coop project, perhaps you should just devote a day to come in, do it, and leave? You've said it would take almost as long to do the work as it would to get there and back. Just do it and be finished with it.
    – teego1967
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 10:13
  • @Lilienthal do you know the name of the law so I can look it up? Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 2:19

1 Answer 1


Personally I think the advice given on the other thread is terrible (aside from WindRaven's), but I am not going to add to that thread as the question is rightly being closed as off-topic.

If you are proceeding to accept that you do the additional work then the very first step is to define clearly and unambiguously exactly what you are agreeing to do. This needs to be agreed in writing with the ex-employer. Discussions about how much you may or may not be paid, or where you are going to do the work are irrelevant until you have that in place. If you skip this step it is highly likely, in my opinion, that you will be in the same place even after finishing.

Once you have agreed the scope of the work then work out compensation. You are being pressured to do it for zero compensation. I can see no reason why you should do this whatsoever given the "facts" as stated on your original post.

Secondly, as regards working location, just state that you agree to do the work on the condition that [whatever your conditions are]. The ex-employer can either agree or not, but I don't see how they can force you to work in a given location. They might say "A condition of doing this work [for this compensation] is that you work in a location we choose". You are then free to decline to do the work. Given the situation outlined, you cannot be forced to do the work, hence you are in a position of power in terms of compensation and location.

Lastly, good luck, it sounds like you have got yourself into a nasty situation. Don't be bullied into taking an action that is bad for you.

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