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I was hired as a marketing/social media/digital content manager for a company. They are a relatively new company, and when they hired me, I was the first person to be hired for the position. There was no pre-existing equipment I could use to complete my job.

In my interview, I mentioned that I run a side business as a wedding photographer. They asked me about what sort of camera equipment I use (my professional gear is valued at over $8000) and asked me if I would be able to use my own personal equipment if they hired me. I said to them "if you don't already have a camera, I can use mine at work until you get one for the company".

They hired me, and have made me use my own personal camera equipment every single day for the past 8 months. Every time I ask them when they will buy a "work camera" for me to use at work, they say they don't have the budget for it, and i'll have to keep using my own.

There have been many occasions when they have asked me to leave my own camera behind at work, so that they can continue to use it out of hours, and on days that I am on leave. I came back after a day off to find my tripod was broken, but no one in the company admitted that they did it. They also refuse to cover the cost of the repair. (It's a $400 tripod!).

My camera has now started to glitch, and often won't turn on/turns off in the middle of photoshoots. I finally put my foot down and said that I will not be bringing my camera to work any more, and they have to buy one. Now it seems as though they are going to fire me. (This isn't certain, but it seems to be going that way).


Can I ask for compensation for the use of my equipment for the past few months? I have had to buy a new camera for my wedding photography business, as the other camera is so run down now that I can't rely on it.

My contract stated very clearly that the company would provide me with the equipment I needed to fulfil my role - yet they haven't provided it.

I am located in Australia.

closed as off-topic by gnat, scaaahu, David K, Agent_L, Mister Positive May 18 '18 at 16:52

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  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – gnat, scaaahu, David K, Agent_L, Mister Positive
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Hi Paula, welcome to workplace.SE! I lightly edited your question to make it easier to read - feel free to re-edit if I changed anything relevant. – sleske May 18 '18 at 8:44
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    Just tell them that your own camera is broken...and you have no money to buy a new one...(remember them that you have used your personal camera) and ask how to solve the problem.. – Ben May 18 '18 at 12:20
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    I think the title of this question is misleading - you allowed the company to use your camera on an open-ended agreement with no stipulation for compensation. Now you regret that decision. I don't think they made you do anything. They asked and you complied. All you can take from this is a learning experience. – J... May 18 '18 at 13:16
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    IANAL, but my understanding is if you had no agreement up front they would pay compensation for your camera, you can't make a new contract now to be retroactively enforced. Otherwise I could say you owe me $100 for typing this comment :) – Laconic Droid May 18 '18 at 13:54
  • You will not be able to ask for compensation any more than someone using a personal laptop for work. And by agreeing to using your personal equipment, they could also claim that it was a condition for hiring you. They do NOT have the right to ask you to leave your equipment, but I understand lugging your equipment every day would be a major burden for you. – Phil M May 21 '18 at 23:27
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The problem is here that if you can't prove that someone in the company broke your equipment (no one admitted it), then there's not much you can do except claim for the damages on your insurance.

This problem is in the past now - all you can do is get it repaired through your insurance and move on.

Not letting this happen in future is the question here. Logically speaking, if its your equipment that you use to earn money on a professional business, then you should retain sole ownership and control of it - don't let it out of your hands.

If you stand firm on protecting your personal property, then the business will be forced to find alternative equipment for the times you're not available.

  • At a minimum the OP can claim any and all expenses related to repairing and maintaining (and/or replacing) their work camera as a deduction on their next tax return. Not as good as having the employer reimburse for the repairs, but still significantly better than just getting it repaired and moving on. – aroth May 18 '18 at 13:27
  • @aroth what? you can deduct repair costs?? – user1306322 May 18 '18 at 13:58
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    I believe you can as an unreimbursed business expense - similar to how you can claim mileage spent on job searching. – Adonalsium May 18 '18 at 14:00
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    This answer appears to ignore that the OP's contract states the company will provide all equipment required for the role. If accurate, that seems a clear breach of contract and there should be potential legal remedies available (whether or not it is worth pursuing them is another matter). – Jon Bentley May 18 '18 at 15:14
  • @user1306322 - Yes, absolutely. At least in Australia you can. Any non-reimbursed business expense can be claimed as a deduction. – aroth May 18 '18 at 15:32
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You need to see a lawyer.

It appears that the company is in breach of contract and also used your equipment without compensation. As you don't have a written agreement on that, a lawyer can advise you about what the usual assumed unwritten agreement is.

And you should not have done what you did. Using your own equipment by yourself is discussable, but leaving it for someone else to use is unwise.

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    If your employer does not facilitate you you may be able to refuse work, but working and then asking for additional compensation sounds far-fetched. Also, they have used the equipment with permission, so I don't see how a claim can be made for that. -- Seeing a lawyer sounds like a bad way to spend your time and energy. – Dennis Jaheruddin May 18 '18 at 14:03
  • @Denis Are you replying this to Tom? – Sembei Norimaki May 18 '18 at 14:05
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    I would suggest consulting a lawyer to clarify what you may reasonably expect. Because you allowed your employer to use your equipment with permission, you are certainly able to ask for compensation, but the company isn't obligated to reimburse you. Going forward, if the company does not meet its obligation to provide you what it promised in the contract has likely set them up for litigation if they don't honor that contract. Letting them borrow the equipment was a mistake. Litigation is a last-ditch ordeal that will sacrifice your relationship. – Suncat2000 May 18 '18 at 14:22
  • I repeat: See a lawyer. Just because permission was granted does not automatically mean compensation was not implicitly assumed. But this is country-specific. In my country, unless there is a written agreement specifically stating no compensation is expected, an assumption of reasonable compensation would be assumed as free use of expensive equipment is an undue burden on one side of the contract. – Tom May 18 '18 at 20:37
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Asking for compensation is going to be hard.

What you can do is stop bringing your personal equipment to work.

If they can afford your salary, they can scrounge up a few extra grand for a camera - and if all their pics are going to be viewed through a cell phone or computer screen, do they really need a DSLR? a $500 point and shoot will more than meet their business needs.

It sounds like you are having a bad time working for these people. It doesn't sound like they respect your job. Do you really want to continue with them?

2

Yes, you can ask for a compensation.

And I think you should. But it probably will not go easy. Your employer and colleagues have made use of your generosity to use your professional gear without payment. For 8 months.

So, stop bringing your gear to work. Period. If you must, tell them you (and them) can no longer rely on your gear to work as it has become run down due to heavy use. It is no longer fit for professional use.


Going forward: find the closest camera shop that hires out equipment so you can rent a camera now you need one for your work. Or get a quote for the equipment you think you need in your position. Don't get any equipment without approval. Photography equipment is not cheap.


Option two is just forgoing any equipment and see how the situation evolves. You have learnt a costly lesson, but you still have a job.


Lastly if there is no compensation and you still want one, get your resume ready and find a better employer. Then go and find a lawyer that deals with this kind of problems.

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The other answers already point out that your chances of getting compensation for the use of the camera are pretty low. Even getting reimbursed for the damaged tripod seems like a no-go. What this shows is that you work at a place where no one has the backbone to stand up and admit to their mistake and they rather leave you holding the bag than help you.

Get out of this place. It's a costly lesson no matter what but even if you do manage to get paid for the damaged tripod, that's a very small percentage of your loss anyway. None of that changes the people around you and the fact that you'll have to deal with them every day if you stay here (assuming you don't get fired for not lending your own equipment for work). A lawyer may help but it may end up even more costly.

Life is too short to work for / with people like that.

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Of course yes! You must require a depreciation term for the equipment. After all, with the constant use in work, the equipment will damage faster than in personal use. Besides the risks of falling, or theft.

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