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I switched job one month ago. In my previous job, relations with co-workers and manager were excellent included during my resignation time. Right now I received a request from my ex-manager to solve some problem that arised now which I recognize is partly my fault. Manager states that right now I'm the only one able to solve that. Looks like it is not complicated to solve, however I do not know certainly until which point I am "obligated" to provide help.

For now I answered email suggesting the steps to take but if for example they ask me to come to the office or something like that, should I go? I'm pretty busy now in my current job.

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    Unless they are paying you as a contractor, do not go back to a previous employer even if "you are the only one who can solve the problem" – JasonJ Jun 9 '17 at 15:54
  • Send the a mail with advise on how to fix the problem but don't fix it for them. – Snowlockk Jun 9 '17 at 15:58
  • The language to use is "I'm happy to help as much as possible." in an email. Then, give suggestions (as you did). If they keep asking, just keep giving more and more suggestions by email. It's perfectly reasonable you might spend (say) 15 minutes, say 3 or 4 times, on this. – Fattie Jun 9 '17 at 17:21
  • Don't for any reason go back there to do work, and don't do a remote freelance job for them. It will annoy your new employer. – Fattie Jun 9 '17 at 17:22
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    @user19159 You switched jobs, but did you switch employers? – DLS3141 Jun 9 '17 at 18:21
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Does your contract/agreement with your new employer permit you to do freelance work? If not, you cannot do work for another company without violating your contract. Let your former manager know.

Do you want to do the work/solve the problem? If not, tell the former manager you aren't able to help.

So, you're allowed to do the work and you want to do the work. You have two options:

  1. Charge them for your time as a freelancer. This may rub them the wrong way, but they were willing to pay you to solve those problems when you worked for them, why wouldn't they be willing to pay you now?
  2. Offer to solve the problem for free, but be prepared to get other requests to do more work for free.

In either case, your freelance work should not interfere with your actual job. If they need/want you to be there in person, you should absolutely charge them, and you should charge them extra if you need to take personal time from work to meet their demand.


Personally, I would be willing to answer questions from my previous company for free so long as it's a relatively quick email (I'm freely answering questions on StackOverflow for strangers, why not for those I know). As you've already done in giving some suggestions for them to investigate.

If you want me to do actual work, I'm effectively a freelancer, and my time is limited and valuable.

  • +1 for checking if you are even allowed to do that. I've had contracts that didn't allow me to work in my field for any other company, even for free... companies like to keep your brain, ideas and energy for themselves whenever possible. – Kerkyra Jun 12 '17 at 14:55
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Technically, you are not obligated to do anything in this situation. Whether the issue is partly your fault or not is irrelevant.

It is very nice of you to email suggestions to them, though. If it really comes down to the point where they ask you to come back to the office to help solve this issue, you might try to just negotiate a temporary contract, wherein you could help them out as a side-job for a couple days or weeks, when possible outside of your new job. You'd have to be careful about that though - your new employer may have rules against this, so you would have to talk to them first. For that matter, I don't know what country you are in - something like this might be fine in one country, but there might be rules about it in some other country.

But again, you are under no obligation to do any of these things. Sounds like a harsh way to put it, but it's true.

Another thing to consider is the relationship with your previous employer. I like his suggestion of trying to help out, especially if it is not much effort. As he suggests, it is possible that refusing to help out (when you are both able, and contractually allowed to do so) could sour the excellent relationship that you have with your previous employer. It could turn a good reference into a bad one.

Consider helping out if you are able, especially if it is not much effort, and if you are contractually allowed to by your new employer. I've been in the same situation, and it worked out well for all parties involved.

  • Fair enough, I'll add that – Langecrew Jun 9 '17 at 17:34
  • +1 for "Whether the issue is partly your fault or not is irrelevant." – DanK Jun 9 '17 at 20:12

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