I'm in the UK. My employment contract says that anything I create "during [my] employment" that "can be used in the course of the company's business" must be handed over to the company.

Suppose that I write a program in my own time on my own equipment and without direction from anyone at the company, but its the kind of thing that the company might want to buy and use. Can they demand I hand over the copyright?

I understand the normal rules about things created in the course of my work. However I would not be doing that.

The question seems to hinge on the definition of "during employment". Would that be read as "between the time I joined and the time I left, including my leisure time", or would it just be a synonym for "in the course of my work"?

I understand the issues with asking the Net for legal advice, and I've Googled the issue without success. Does anyone have any specific references that address this issue?

  • 2
    Unfortunately, this question has everything to do with a law in you location, and this Q&A site does not have the expertise to answer it.
    – shenles
    Aug 17, 2016 at 17:03
  • IANAL but during employment is calendar by any reasonable interpretation. If it was on work time on company equipment then there would be not reason for that clause.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 17, 2016 at 17:08
  • Fair enough: if its off-topic then delete it. Aug 17, 2016 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


Not just asking the "net" for legal issues, but legal questions are off topic here - but there are answers to be had.

The copyright clause you cite is a bog standard one, and only your company knows how far they would push it in particular circumstances, so do what I do - ask them to clarify it as being work specifically produced for the company or produced on company premises using company tools. No company I have worked for has had an issue putting that clarification into the contract.


I have seen contracts that claim salaried worker's company-related creativity 24x7x365 --where the company gets to say what is or isn't related.

However, those companies have also had standard procedures for getting things that aren't directly business-telated explicitly approved.

Read your contract (including any changes you negotiated before signing it), talk to the company's team responsible for dealing with this (usually in HR or Legal or both), and if still in any doubt (or if you don't like the answer) ask your own lawyer to review it.

Sorry, but that's the only universal answer.

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