Damage to equipment

Wondering how you handle damage to employee issued equipment.

If an enduser damages equipment on accident or do to negligence. Is there a point where you look to them to cover the damage? What if they have an “accident” 1, 2, or even 3 times?

What about theft due to negligence - them leaving their laptop on an unlocked car seat?

If anyone has a document or policy that covers this I’d love for you to share if you are willing.


We did not have a policy covering this. On the two occasions, the department would have to cover the cost of replacement equipment. We used it as a learning moment for the entire staff. In our case it was a locked car, but left in the car when it should have been removed. And left in sight.
We let the department deal with any points on the employee. We also had security in place that indicated data was very unlikely to be compromised in any way.

Considering that IT != HR, we just relay our concerns, if any, to the end-user (as it relates to caring for church resources), to the end-users’ supervisor (if we feel necessary), and/or to the department head (if necessary).

Typically, I’ve found (both church and non-church) that the end-user is more mad at themselves than IT is upset with them, so repeat offenses are relatively rare. For the few where that does occur, it has typically either a personality issue where they just lack situational awareness and are careless in general with everything, or some weird strategy to secure a machine upgrade if they can “prove” their older/lesser machine is unreliable.

In either case - repeat offenders don’t get treated any different from the perspective of IT departments I’ve been involved with. IT is there to support the end-user and to fix/repair/replace equipment. HR is there to address any behavioral concerns.

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Agree with Jared, IT does not equal HR. Also, employees are far more valuable than equipment. Salary, benefits, onboarding, and experience. That is worth a lot.

I tell my IT staff, don’t be afraid to make the occasional $10K mistake. Because it is not terribly difficult to do in our field.

As far as who pays for it, that depends on your budget structure. Although all the accounting teams I’ve worked with care much more about the bottom line, and will be happy to work out whatever needs to happen.

As many have said, IT != HR. Generally speaking, accidental damage is and should be treated as a business expense. Gross negligence and willful damage are not, but may be difficult to prove. Also, every state has different laws surrounding what is allowed regarding payment for damaged company equipment, so you might want to check those first.

I’m going to echo Jared and Dave - creating an environment where mistakes are costly to individual staff and punitive in nature can be harmful and sow opportunity to hide mistakes and breed distrust. Instead, it’s best to develop a culture where those events are discussed openly and are treated as learning opportunities for everyone.

If gross negligence is the cause, or willful damage - definitely an HR issue and pass those findings on. Even if you don’t recoup the cost of the equipment, it might be more important to share that knowledge and let them and the employee’s supervisor make the next determination.

Finally, if recouping the cost of damaged equipment is necessary for your budget - it might be a good idea to review the risks/rewards of one’s tech choices. I know I have had to carefully consider if the associated costs of repairs and replacement of our equipment were reasonable, weighing them against other solutions to know what was more in line with our budget.