Do I have to pay for tools used and required for everyday work?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have to pay for tools used and required for everyday work?

I have been employed with a company since the summer of 2013. I am an electrician and certain tools are required to do my job. There is a tool account we are allowed to use to purchase tools needed for everyday work strippers l, needle nose plyers, screwdrivers, etc.. at certain electrical supply chains. My boss has never deducted anything from my paycheck for tools from 2013-2016. I quit and my boss just sent me an Invoice for all the tools I have purchased. There was no written or verbal contract between the employer and I to pay for the tools. Am I required to pay for these tools and can he deduct it from my wages?

Asked on January 17, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Your employer *could* have required you to pay for tools all along--i.e. had you pay for them as they were ordered. That would be a legitimate term or condition of employment, and if you had not been willing to pay, you could have quit and sought other employment.
However, he cannot make you pay for the tools after the fact unless there was an agreement in place that you would. Of course, you can't take the tools with you, unless you were to buy them from him: if they were paid for by employer money, they belong to the employer, and taking them without paying the employer for them (assuming he is willing to let you pay them and keep them) is theft and you could be sued for that and/or charges could be pressed.
Assuming that you are not taking tools belonging to the employer, he cannot, as stated, charge you now unless there had been an agreement that you'd pay for them. And an employer also may not withhold or deduct money from employee paychecks (including the final paycheck) without employment agreement or consent to the deduction, even if it were the case that the employee owed the employer money. If the employer withholds money from you for tools (especially if you did not take tools bought by the employer, with its money), you could sue for the withheld pay.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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