The recruitment processes for tech industry jobs are known to be a bit tedious, and once you are in, nothing is stopping your employer from claiming ownership of any Intellectual Property you create on “company time."That was the way things used to be, and that is what GitHub is leaving behind. The open-source code documentation platform has recently come up with a new formula that honors the developers’ creative rights at work as well as outside of work. The Balanced Employee Intellectual Property Agreement (BEIPA) allows employees to work on personal projects whenever they have the time, and using company-owned tools.

An agreement for better work-life balance

Although GitHub’s novel agreement is not the first of such attempts, the company is hoping that its more balanced IP approach will become an industry standard. The agreement is released as open source, with the current version formulated to be used within the United States. However, its implementation will vary from state to state. It all depends on the local legislation, as some states are known to be more protective toward the rights of developers.

GitHub itself relies on a very clear documentation system for open source coding and project development. Its system allows developers to create backups of backups of their codes online, in the cloud, and on their desktops.

Collaboration is tracked and documented for each project. A meticulously documented project is in itself a way for developers to protect their progress and inventions.

Redefining 'company time'

According to GitHub, the current IP agreements are so generous to employers that they would allow these companies to control whatever their employees created while working at the company.

“Company time” translates to 24/7, day or night, and even works created before their employment in many cases. This agreement was far from “balanced." The BEIPA, GitHub said, is limited to what the developers create “during the period of employment” and only for creations that are related to the business. GitHub is encouraging other companies to follow suit and implement similar policies in the workplace to help achieve the desired work-life balance for their employees.

Cases and alternatives

There have been cases within the United States where a developer’s creative rights were severely violated. One such case, as detailed by Quartz, was the Alcatel vs. Evan Brown case, where Brown, a programmer at Alcatel, was fired for offering a solution to a 20-year-old algorithm problem he had managed to solve for his company. Instead of taking the offer, the company sued him over idea ownership, in which Brown lost a prolonged seven-year legal battle. He was later offensively made to spend an unpaid three months implementing his solution for the company.

GitHub included in the policy announcement other alternative balanced approaches, including an IP agreement based on the one used by Rackspace, ContractPatch, and the non-compete reform used in various U.S. states.