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FAQ: Unreturned Organizational Property

By February 27, 2023July 14th, 2023No Comments

Question:  We’ve had several departing employees who have not returned items that belong to the organization, such as cell phones, computers, uniforms, keys, etc. Can we dock a final paycheck for any unreturned organizational property?

The short answer: no.

Very rarely are you allowed to dock money from a final paycheck, especially for electronics. Additionally, a departing employee’s last (or any) paycheck may not be held hostage until the organization’s items are returned or any unfinished work is completed.

We would recommend having all employees sign an Equipment Disbursement Form any time they are receiving organizational property. Include wording such as, “this item belongs to ABC organization and is only on loan for the duration of the employee’s employment with ABC organization or such a time when the employee’s job no longer requires the equipment listed. ABC organization also retains the right to require the return of said equipment at any point during employment”.  Ensure the employee signs the agreement to return all provided organization-owned items (this can also include Operations Manuals, client files, etc.) back to the organization upon separation. After they sign and date, give them a copy, and put the original into their personnel file. A best practice is to include any serial numbers on equipment next to the item listed on the Equipment Disbursement Form.

If the property is not returned, the organization has the right to file a police report regarding the missing items and, if necessary, file a claim with small claims court.  However, you cannot withhold paychecks as leverage to get items back from employees.

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The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

(Image by Newfabrika from Freepik)

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