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I may be leaving my company soon to start a new position, and one thing I've wondered about is whether or not I will be able to keep my standing desk.

The reason for my question is that it was purchased by my department for me, with the justification of it being for my health. Currently anyone who desires a standing desk can request one. I know the best approach will just be to ask my supervisor and get an answer from them, but I am also just curious as to what the standard practice is for 'health assets' given to employees after change of employment.

If it's relevant, I am a software engineer.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Snow Jul 17 at 5:34
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No, you should not expect to keep company-purchased equipment.

This was paid for by the company, not by you personally, so it belongs to your employer, not to you. It doesn't matter that it was for your health needs. The desk can be easily re-used by another employee after you leave.

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    This. It was purchased by the company to accommodate employees with a need for such a desk, such as the OP. It was not purchased for the OP. That the purchase was initiated by the OP informing the company of their need for such an accommodation doesn't change this at all. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Jul 15 at 20:14
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    That being said, if its a specific request for said employee and the company doesn't have a use lined up for it, its perfectly valid to ask to purchase it 2nd hand from the company since it would actually benefit all sides involved. – Leon Jul 16 at 10:47
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    @anaximander in any case it wont hurt to ask about it ;) – Leon Jul 16 at 13:34
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    @Leon Absolutely. I'm just saying that if they say no, and then put the desk into storage - or even a skip - then it likely wasn't out of malice, it's just legally much simpler for them that way. I've heard of some companies throwing things away that then mysteriously disappeared from the loading yard where they were placed to await disposal, and because someone had coincidentally left the gate unlocked, there's no knowing who might have made off with them. Of course, it's entirely understandable that nobody noticed, given that they were due to be taken away anyway... – anaximander Jul 16 at 13:38
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    I know of a company that was disposing of some networking equipment many years ago, @anaximander. They were in a very similar situation - they could not give or sell the equipment to an individual (though they could have probably sold to another corp.), so an IT manager was required to supervise placing the equipment in the dumpster. He ensured that the items were placed carefully and at the end of the day. Later that evening, before garbage pickup, said items were removed from the dumpster and given to someone who could use them. – FreeMan Jul 16 at 16:32
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Do you also plan to take the computer, monitor, phone, etc with you? The answer to your question is likely the same for them. It's equipment purchased by the company for the purpose of you doing your job.

I have a 43" monitor on my desk and a pair of $200 noise cancelling headphones. I'd sure love to take both with me on my last day in 2 days. But I doubt very much they'll let me.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Lilienthal Jul 21 at 10:31
  • Give it a shot with noise canceling headphones - it's a pretty personal item, so probably no one wants it. – Elchin Jul 24 at 0:29
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As others already stated, these items are company property unless some unusual law is applicable, or you paid for it, either directly or as a deduction from salary.

That said, if you believe such item would not benefit any further employee, it is OK to ask if the company is willing to sell it to you.

For example, headphones and microphones that are hard to disinfect, and even mobile phones with visible wear and tear are, in my experience, items that are often sold to employees if they are interested - they are not usable or not appealing for future employees, so it might be better to sell them than to pay for storage. Furniture designed for someone with specific disability may count - and I've seen one guy to walk away from his job with his chair.

And sometimes, just sometimes company can agree to give it for free, if you ask to buy. I knew a person who got his mobile phone for free when he left from a company, and I know a company that sells mobile phones for symbolic fee after two years of usage.

Maybe your company will not sell, but as long as you are asking about buying it back, and are not angry or irritated if they say no, you are acting professionally.

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    It never hurts to ask. Some companies will even agree to a "salvage price" or a small "nominal fee" for your work equipment, the idea being that you're simplifying what would otherwise be a complicated process for them to inventory and recycle or dispose of your things. – workerjoe Jul 16 at 14:19
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    My relative once liked his company phone very much and asked the company he was leaving if he could buy it. The company had never done this before but nevertheless assigned a person to have a look at ebay as to a reasonable price and went through with the sale to accommodate my relative's wish – Pavel Jul 17 at 5:28
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This depends on who paid for the item in question.

If your employer bought it for you, they get to keep it.

If you paid it yourself, or if you received a grant from your health insurance, retirement insurance or some other agency (this is possible e.g. in Germany, to enable you to continue to work, referred to as "Zuschuss zu Hilfsmittel am Arbeitsplatz"), the item may be your property. However, if the company paid a part of the cost, you will have to negotiate with them.

For the process in Germany, see e.g. the information page on Berufliche Rehabilitation (Professional rehabilitation) by the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.

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    Welcome to The Workplace! Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the OP is in Germany (in fact, they seem to be in the US according to their other question), and your answer could also do with a citation to back up your assertion as it seems highly unlikely that they would allow the office equipment to leave the building when it could easily be used for another employee with a similar issue. The OP would have to speak with their new employer to gain the same assistance. – Jane S Jul 16 at 2:48
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    nope, the desk'd belong to either the company or the insurance provider (and they're the company's insurance provider, not the employee's). It's still not your property. – jwenting Jul 16 at 4:35
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    @jwenting Can't find a source right now, but in germany the employee can apply for a standing desk paid by their health insurance. The desk is than the property of the employee and he is obviously entitled to keep it after the employment ends. – NotTelling Jul 16 at 8:18
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    @jwenting: Actually, from what I read, it's complicated. The insurance provider (in this case usually the Deutsche Rentenversicherung) will typically pay a grant ("Zuschuss zu Hilfsmittel am Arbeitsplatz") to the employee directly. If the employee uses that grant and/or their own money to buy something, it's theirs. – sleske Jul 16 at 8:19
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    @NotTelling: Yes, exactly. These are referred to as "Hilfsmittel zur Berufsausübung" ("working aids"). – sleske Jul 16 at 8:22
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One point, only beause other questions didn't cover it. If the desk is in your house e.g. because you work at home, then the practicalities and cost of the company taking possession of it (assuming it's theirs) may mean that they concede ownership without any argument.

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    This is to take the approach of "better to ask forgiveness than permission", in my view. – ConcernedHobbit Jul 16 at 17:35
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The company may simply 'not care' about it.

It's probably wiser to ask, casually, 'Oh, by the way, do you need the desk back?' just in passing. If you put it in writing someone will have to give an official, binding answer.

Under similar circumstances several years ago I retained items already at home, including:-
A Mac Pro & dual monitors
A digital mixing desk & associated sound input/output devices
A digital piano
A portable keyboard [musical instrument]
A pair of recording studio monitor speakers
Cabling & peripherals for all the above.

All at the time under 3 years old. Total new value perhaps £20,000 at a rough guess.

They simply didn't need them any more & allowed me to keep them. Whoever followed me would just be provided with brand new versions of all of the above.

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If you do ask, try to put it into "business terms".

IE: companies buy equipment and put depreciation tracking on them. If the desk has been in use for a long time, then it may have depreciated to the point of being "worthless" to the company, so anything you pay to them would just be money in their pocket.

However, depreciation is dependent on the equipment. Computers may have < 5 years depreciation, because of how quickly computers become obsolete. But, durable office goods, like a desk, may have a very long depreciation schedule, because it's just considered to last forever unless force majeure (act of god, crazy unforeseen destruction, etc) happens.

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    5 years is about as long as depreciation schedules get for office furniture. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 17 at 13:16

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