I am a Manager and we are all working from home for over a year now, and we were all provided with a company laptop.

One of my engineer's laptop broke, and she was unable to work for a two days while IT support got it replaced. Although it's definitely not her fault, I am thinking if it would be fair if she made up for the lost days. I was thinking of proposing to her the following:

  1. She can file it as a Personal Time Off
  2. She can make it up on two separate weekends

Is it fair to ask her to make up for missed days due to Broken Laptop? and How can I best frame the request for her to make up for the lost man-hours?

  • 40
    Absolutely not. She was available to work and your company was not able to provide her the tools she needed to do the job. Asking her to sacrifice her personal time for the failure of your company and equipment is not an acceptable exchange.
    – pft221
    Jul 17, 2021 at 16:08
  • 16
    I work in IT and at any point we have at least 5 spare laptops set up for exactly this reason. At most we might lose a couple of hours while we sort out a courier to get the spare to the person that needs it.
    – Dan K
    Jul 17, 2021 at 16:38
  • 10
    So, what is the consequence for the person meant to be organising the courier? They wasted this time - not the engineer.
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 17, 2021 at 17:17
  • 4
    Fair or not, is it even legal in your jurisdiction to force an employee to take PTO or work unpaid hours without a good reason? Guilting your employee into accepting responsibility and volunteering their free time would definitely be abusive.
    – Egor
    Jul 17, 2021 at 17:29
  • 7
    "the person responsible for the courier didn't do it right away" - how did you escalate the courier issue when it became apparent? Jul 17, 2021 at 19:25

4 Answers 4


It is completely not fair and at least in some countries illegal. Your company provided her with a tool that broke and failed to replace it swiftly. Hence, your company has to deal with the resulting loss of workforce. She was ready to work. Hence, she should be paid for the full time. It is the failure of your company to not accept her workforce or to fail providing the required tools.


Although it's definitely not her fault, I think it would be fair if she made up for the lost days.

This is the behaviour of an abusive manager.

You (you represent the company, don't try and wiggle out of it) provided equipment which broke, you were unable to get it fixed. There is absolutely, completely, no way whatsoever you should be ever be expecting an employee to make up time for this, or anything else which isn't their fault.

  • 14
    You are right in the subject matter. But, after all, OP asked a question because they were unsure and possibly inexperienced. I think it is good form to treat OP as a legitimate asker who wants to know in good faith what's right; and, while I agree with you with sending a disapproving message to OP's incoming stance, I do not think it is necessary to be as drastic as you are at this stage of the discussion. At this stage, they still might be swayed by the arguments on this side. I have not flagged anything, but I think you could make an equally forceful point without attacking OP. Jul 17, 2021 at 16:17
  • 1
    yes, the reason I asked is I was unsure. I felt conflicted in asking the engineer to work, but I also wanted to be fair with the other engineers (because they've all been working very hard). the equipment was also two years old, and I've been actively working with IT to replace the laptop and kept on monitoring the situation.
    – user62478
    Jul 17, 2021 at 16:47
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere perhaps it’s not the act of asking the question on here, but thinking of blaming the engineer or punishing the engineer for the failures of others like courier...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 17, 2021 at 18:05
  • 5
    What @SolarMike says - I cannot wrap my head around the logic required to get from "it wasn't their fault" to anywhere near "they should work unpaid for 2 days". Jul 17, 2021 at 19:22
  • @JoeStrazzere Thinking is not abusive - you seem to be thinking... it is what he thought...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 17, 2021 at 20:08

I think all the other answers address how poor a decision it would be to make the employee "pay" (by taking paid time off, or working over a weekend) for the company's failure to get a replacement to her in a timely manner, and so I will not add anything to that line of discussion.

What I will add is that technical difficulties pop-up all the time (broken laptops, VPN not working, source control unavailable); as a manager, if you want your employees to be productive during such an event, it is on you to come up with a set of alternative tasks that they can do.

That said, the alternative tasks should be relevant, and actually useful. If you can't find something that fits, assigning people useless tasks is a bad idea - it is a really good way to lower their job satisfaction.

  • You're the manager

  • Every single thing that happened is totally, completely, your fault

  • Your bad mistakes have cost the company however much it cost to pay that employee for two days (including all taxes, costs, fees, etc)

  • Obviously YOU should have to write a check to the company for that amount.

  • There should be a link to a question "I screwed over my star employee, and they quit" Jul 17, 2021 at 22:32
  • @BarryDeCicco yes, but it is star engineer...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 17, 2021 at 23:44
  • 5
    How would it be the managers personal fault if her laptop broke and the companies assigned IT resources took 2 days to replace it? that makes about as much sense as the original proposition.
    – nvoigt
    Jul 19, 2021 at 16:58

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