What are your valuable view on company device to be sent back to company on resignation/termination? Should company be liable to pay the shipping costs since most IT companies are working from home nowadays?

I have a small business with less than 7 employees and I recently hired a fresher. Firstly he did not even sign in company email provided to him and so for one week any emails we sent him on company email he did not reply. I had to email him on personal email id. He failed to give his daily work report to seniors even after multiple warnings. He was getting trained and asked to do what we taught him but we never heard back from him if he did complete those things or not. But he would join company zoom meetings for training. Eventually we had to terminate him within 15 days of his join date. Company has a bring your device policy but since he said his laptop has less memory, we provided him a new one at the company cost. He was made to sign a device policy that clearly said that he is responsible to send device when asked/ upon termination or resignation within 7 days of his last working day.

Now since he is fresher, his 15 days salary is not worth the laptop price. He is asking us to send him his salary and shipping costs before, and then only he will send laptop.

What are your thoughts? This isn't the first time an employee has asked for return shipping costs. I always reimburse them but I am seeking your opinion that even though they signed contract which says " You are responsible to send back the company device within 7 days of your termination/resignation." Are companies liable to pay return shipping costs?

From Canada, Vancouver
Dear member,

Your post shows that your location is Vancouver, Canada. Is it correct?

A few questions related to your post are as below:

a) You have written that "He was made to sign a device policy that clearly said that he is responsible to send the device when asked/ upon termination or resignation within 7 days of his last working day." However, mere signing the policy document apart, have you obtained the signature of the employee on the loan card for the transfer of the company's asset from the company to the employee? If yes, then do you have a hard copy of his signature?

b) Before termination, why was the employee not called the office and told to deposit the asset(s) allocated to him?

c) If the employee is asking for the shipping charges, then have you advised him to ship it on a "To-Pay" basis? I hope you are aware that when the consignment is sent on a "To-pay" basis, the recipient bears the shipping charges of the consignment. By the way, for a while, keep aside the point who bears the shipping charges. But what if the employee ships the laptop in a broken condition?

d) If the employee is asking for the shipping charges, is it possible for you to send one of the employees to his home and collect the laptop?

e) When the laptop was allocated to the employee, how was it handed over? Was it in person or was it shipped through a courier company? If the latter, then who bore the shipping charges? Were those borne by the company or the employee?

Solution: - You can send a strongly-worded notice to the employee stating that his "Full and Final Settlement" is pending and unless he obtains a proper clearance, his salary cannot be paid. Therefore, he must come to the office and deposit the laptop. If the laptop is not deposited then, the company is free to exercise all the legal options. If you have a lawyer in your circle who can send the notice at nominal charges, then be prepared for it. When he receives the lawyer's notice, I predict that he will develop cold feet.

Learning in Hindsight: - If the employee is required to be terminated in just 15 days, then this calls for review of your recruitment policy. The chap does not appear to be a career-conscious person. But then why was this lack of career consciousness not detected during the interview? Recently there was a post similar to yours wherein an owner of the start-up has problems with a pregnant employee. Having a vision or spirit entrepreneurship is fine, but having man-management skills is another thing. Therefore, you may have a review of your administrative policies from some third party.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
There seems there is a lack of proper policy guidelines in respect of hiring/ induction and asset manegement.
How ever in this case the best solution is to reach out to employee in person along with leagal help to retrieve the assets given to employee.
If the non - disclosure agreement signed by the employee , company can initiate actions against employee.

From India, Vadodara

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