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

UPDATED: Dec 12, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

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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