Departing staff member - keeping laptop

We have a staff member on the way out but I have been asked to do whatever is appropriate to their laptop and allow them to keep it. What would be appropriate?

I’m assuming I should wipe it so when they get it back it’s like a new machine. That seems a little mean when we don’t mind some personal use and they have things setup the way they like them. But I would at least need to remove it from the domain so they would have to setup a new local login anyway, right?

Also, when it comes to software licensing, I guess Windows 10 goes with the machine but our MS Office volume license is just for while that machine is in our possession, so I have to remove that. Am I assuming that right?

How do others handle this? Thanks!

The easiest answer is wipe it and give it to them at the Out of Box Experience. While that might feel a bit mean, it is the best way to ensure no liability from work data or application licenses in place.


@CGreenTX is absolutely right. There are legal issues with licenses that you get to avoid by wiping the machine.

We wipe all machines when they are released. Period.

It’s not mean if you do the same for everyone…

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What others said. I’ll add…

Laptops could be generally considered “disposable” in the sense that it takes more than a new keyboard and mouse to freshen it up for the next person. Unless it’s super new, we’d “sell” it to the staffer upon termination.

The sell price may be a cash exchange, but is at least added to their payroll as non-cash compensation. eBay should give an idea of what is a"fair" price.

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Another +1 for what @CGreenTX said. We’ve done the wipe as described to give them a clean machine with no chance of sharing confidential files or church licenses. We also have them sign a bill of sale that says, in fancy language, it’s yours now, not ours, and supporting it is not our responsibility anymore.

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Two things.

  1. I know you are IT, but I can’t overemphasize what Jeremy said. As a church you cannot just allow the employee to leave without compensating you for the laptop. The fiduciary responsibilities of the church as a nonprofit require you get fair compensation for it. You should also document the comparables used to determine the sales price. Once the employee knows what it is going to cost them, either in cash or reported income, they often change their mind about keeping it.

  2. If the church leadership and departing employee decide to do this, IT gives the employee the opportunity to put any personal files on a thumb drive prior to IT wiping the drive and then performing a clean install. Most staff aren’t technical, so they actually appreciate the clean install once the benefits to performance and reliability are explained. I even offer to help them copy back the personal files once the clean install is done.