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Unread 08-27-2003, 05:02 AM
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Default Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

Do you make employees pay for equipment they break by misuse?

Ex. I have an employee who jammed the shredder (this happens 90% of the time she uses by attempting to shred more than the machine can handle, please note this is a high volume commercial shredder). Anyway, when she jams the shredder she clears that jam by shoving scissors into the machine (she has been talked to about this in the past), when it happened a couple days ago, she cleared the jam but when attempted to use the machine again, it had a high pitch noise (like nails on a chalkboard). We called to have the machine serviced and the tech found broken pieces on the shredding element, bottom line is it is going to cost close to $300 (parts and labor) to fix.

I do not want to charge this time; however, I do want to implement a policy regarding broken equipment from misuse. In the past we have had to replace the glass (approx $200) on a copier because an employee slammed the lid down too hard and broke it, we have had to replace a phone ($270) because an employee spilled her water on it, had to replace a laptop ($1,500) because an employee stored in in a overhead compartment on the plane and someone placed a heavy bag on it and shattered the screen, etc...

I am not trying to be petty but I feel everyone should take accountability for their actions, and property that does not belong to you should be treated appropriately.

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Unread 08-27-2003, 05:27 AM
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Default RE: Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

Our company of 16,000 does not have a written policy about repaying mishandled property.

Reading your post though, it sounds like two issues.

1) The shredder woman was told not to jam the printer, etc. and still does it. This sounds like a situation where you go to the disciplinary policy of the company.

2) True accidents such as the copier lid or phone. I just wouldn't feel comfortable charging something to an otherwise good associate because they had a true accident.

I'm sure my esteemed colleagues will have some better answers for you, but that's my 2 cents.

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Unread 08-27-2003, 05:36 AM
HR in CA
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Default RE: Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

In California unless the loss is caused by a dishonest or willful act or gross negligence, the employee can not be charged for the item. It is considered the normal cost of doing business. While I do not agree, the state takes the decision out of my hands. In the past week I had three employees quit and keep all of the company tools, worth far more than the final paycheck I had to issue within 72 hours. Now I am left with taking them to small claims court or filing theft charges. I am leaning towards filing charges as a quicker way to scare them into giving the tools back. So I would first direct you to the laws in your state, then to your policies. If the law allows this would be a great time to implement a policy to address your breakage issue.

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Unread 08-27-2003, 06:16 AM
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Default RE: Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

I wouldn't charge anyone for an accident or something that happens in the normal course of doing business.

If, in the case of "shredder lady", she does this again, I would make sure she would be subject to disciplinary action. I would make sure she realizes how much money she cost the company by her negligence. I would advise the next time she would have to pay for it, or maybe find herself another job.
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Unread 08-27-2003, 07:35 AM
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Default RE: Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

HR in CA,
I would charge are right that would get their attention. Sounds like with the shredder lady discipline is appropriate. I don't know that I would be hard on the one with the broken laptop. SOme others on planes are rude ignorant a--holes. I darn near had a fight with someone who had a carry on way to large who wanted to jam it in when I had a small carry on and a packaged up 100 year old antique clock left to me when my grandfather passed. I finally had to tell them if they touched that box or the bag that things would get very unpleasant quickly. But I have had people try to put thing on top of my laptop, had to stop them. Can't always catch it though. If they are negligent I would work out a payment plan, get them to sign off on the agreement so you have recourse, otherwise discipline.
my $0.02 worth.
DJ The Balloonman
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Unread 08-28-2003, 01:35 AM
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Default RE: Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

We are a very small office of less than 15. We are contracted by the federal government so if any office equipment is damaged there is very little money in the budget to have it repaired.

So we have a policy in our hand book that states that employees will be held accountable for any damages to company property. So far we have not had to act on this policy.

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Unread 08-28-2003, 02:06 AM
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Default RE: Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

I think the issue here is negligence. If damage is done to company property due to employee negligence or just plain "not caring", I would take discipline action against them but without signed authorization from the employee allowing you to deduct the costs of the repair from the employees' check, you may have some difficulty doing this.

In my experience when employees are provided company property to allow them to do their jobs (laptop computers, cell phones, etc.) they are required to sign a release that allows the company to deduct from their payroll check for any damages caused due to negligence. Damage that is done to property not in the employee's possession (machines, copiers, etc.) has always been handled on a disciplinary level and the level of discipline has been determined based on the amount of damage and whether it can be proven that the damage incurred was the result of an employees purposeful actions.
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Unread 08-28-2003, 02:11 AM
Don D
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Default RE: Do you charge employees for broken equipment?

Sticking scissors down into the insides of a commercial shredder is gross and willful mishandling of company property and certainly is punishible, even in California. You might also have the company electician spend a moment with her to tell her how very fortunate she is that her hair is not permanently frizzed beyond repair!
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