I work for a small company and am the lone IT person.

The owner has brought in his laptop that he's having network adapter problems with. I've spent some time getting it to work on the wireless network here, but for various reasons, I've had to assign it a static IP. Not sure it will work when he gets home. I fear this will lead to yet more work and hassle for me.

I feel like this is outside of the scope of what I was hired to do here and there's a lot of other things that need to get done.

Should I just do this work or is there a tactful way to reach an agreement that I work on and fix computers owned by the business?


  • what does your contract / job description say? "IT person" is a very vague term
    – gnat
    Apr 2, 2014 at 17:13
  • 8
    I work for a small company and am the lone IT person. -- Yes. You should be fixing your boss's computer. Apr 2, 2014 at 17:58
  • 3
    If you repair computers as a part of your job and the boss is the owner of the company than I would say this is an easy yes.
    – marteljn
    Apr 2, 2014 at 18:03
  • 2
    Is this your boss' work computer, or personal computer? Does he do company work on it? Apr 2, 2014 at 18:15
  • I want to thank everyone for their answers. There are a couple of issues behind my question that prompted me to post it here: I feel 'other duties as assigned' is starting to be abused. the time I spent fixing it could have been used more productively on projects that even he feels are higher priority. This is not the only example of this. There is no lack of work for me to do and although he does use this laptop for some remote work, I know it is mostly for his (and his family's) personal use.
    – sconnie
    Apr 3, 2014 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


He is the boss and pays you for your time. How he chooses to spend that time is up to him. As long as he isn't asking you to do anything that is illegal, or morally repugnant, do it.

That is what you are getting paid for.

The long winded explanation:

When you start working for someone or a company, there is at least an implied contract of work for hire (US specific, probably applicable elsewhere). This means that you the employee get compensated (paid with money, services, or goods) for performing some service. Anything you produce as a part of the work for hire is a product owned by the person or company that retained you, once you have been compensated.

You are obligated legally to not perform any action that would be illegal in your area. You can refuse to perform any service or task that is illegal. Doing so may cost you your job. There are legal protections in place to prevent that (again it highly depends on your area).

As for things that are morally repugnant, most reasonable people will never ask you to cross that line. If your boss knows that you are a vegan, but requires you to prepare meats for eating, that may cross the line for you. You can refuse to perform that service. It may cost you your job, probably not though. There may or may not be legal protections in place to prevent the loss of your job on these grounds.

With anything that involves the law, you should seek the advice of a lawyer in your area.

  • 7
    I think there is an important distinction between being your boss and being the owner. If you work for a larger company and your boss asks you to work on his personal computer, that is a different story.
    – David K
    Apr 2, 2014 at 17:17
  • I think your answer is correct but it does not really explain why. I think there is quite a bit of room for improvement here Apr 2, 2014 at 17:36
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    This is the best answer. A lot of times in the past, I have gotten stuck on non-developer work. It's frustrating at first, but then I remind myself I'm paid the same whether I'm programming, getting donuts, or making copies. If they want to pay me to make copies, that's fine. If he wants to pay you to fix his computer, it's his prerogative. As long as he is aware it may affect your other tasks, you are just doing what you're told. Apr 2, 2014 at 18:07
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    I haven't missed that point. It doesn't matter because you are still being paid for your time. If your supervisor or the owner tasks you with something, you are being compensated for the time spent doing that task. It doesn't matter what the task is as long as it isn't illegal or immoral. You may not like the task, but that isn't a requirement. Apr 2, 2014 at 18:13
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    Yes, it is. And there will be consequences associated with doing so. However, performing the task as requested by your boss is still in your best interest (maybe even required), barring it being either illegal or morally repugnant. Apr 3, 2014 at 0:18

Depends a lot on the size of the company. If the company is small enough, I would go with the attitude of do whatever needs to get done. As long as it is in the office during something like normal work hours, work on whatever he asks for. People working in small companies need to be more flexible if the company is going to succeed. Often small business owners do a large amount of business work off hours at home. If the owner needs his home computer working in order to help keep the business running smoothly, do you really want to stand in the way of that?

If the request is to go to his/her home outside of work hours, I think you should still consider doing it, but I would hope that the owner recognizes the extra effort implied in that request.

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