What Are Departing Employees Allowed to Take Home?

May 14 2018

man leaving his jobWhen employees leave, (either from a termination or voluntary resignation) what they take with them is often overlooked by employers and HR managers. This is a time when vigilance and consistency are important. While it would be lovely if all departing employees had the best intentions and displayed a high degree of professionalism, the reality is—this doesn’t always happen. Here is a quick cheat sheet that will help you know what to watch out for when parting ways with an employee:

What can they take?
Employees can take their personal possessions with them when they leave. Basically, this means they can take anything that they brought in or personally paid for. Photographs, personalized office décor, tech gadgets, and special office supplies usually fall into this category. Employees may also take copies of their employment files, and some states require employers to provide departing employees with copies of any paperwork that they signed, like a non-compete agreement.

What can’t they take?
Pretty much anything else not mentioned above.

What will they try to take?
Common things former employees try to abscond with include: client lists, outlook contacts, vendor information, financial statements, company paid cell phones, business cards, office supplies, and passwords or proprietary information for business accounts. Theft of intellectual property is common too, and this includes things like presentations and templates, creative content, marketing materials, software code, drawings, and pricing models.

Exit interviews and exit “checks” are often relegated to HR, but the departing employee’s manager can also be made responsible for these formalities. Making an effort to ensure that employees leave ethically and (ideally) on good terms is in everyone’s best interest. And if you’re not already doing exit interviews, this is a great practice to implement.

Do you have a Human Resources issue or policy question that you’d like answered? Ask us your questions via our online chat tool in the lower left corner of your screen. We are passionate about helping companies hire, develop, and retain smart employees and we love to share what we know!


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