Do I legally have to return my company laptop before leaving my job?

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Do I legally have to return my company laptop before leaving my job?

I’ve put in my 2 weeks notice for my current job and was recently told I’ll need to return the 1year old company laptop. I’ve been in charge of the laptop’s security, so I have had to take it home with me every night after work, do my own software updates, etc. I recently heard on a radio show that if your employer requires you to take an item home on a regular basis (a stapler, a pen, even a laptop), it is legally yours. I’m not looking to fight with my current employer, just curious who actually owns this laptop.

Asked on December 12, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Never trust the information you hear on radio shows--it's often wrong, as here.

Taking a company laptop (or cell phone, or pager, or etc.) home on a regular basis for  work or at the employer's behest does NOT give you ownership of that item, any more than the company would come to own a radio you happened to bring into work and leave in your office day after day.

On the other hand, if you like your laptop, since the value of 1-year old laptop is obviously less than a new one, perhaps your company would sell it to you for a reasonable price; that's what a company I used to work for would do. You could certainly ask, if interested.


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