My first question here.

A little bit of history - I've decided to change my current job few weeks ago. I've always been loyal and correct to the company but I've just decided to move on. A week after I've told my boss I want to leave, I accidentally spilt water on my keyboard. Later on, it appeared that some of the keys are not working. I went to my boss and told him what I've done and that I want to buy a new one but would be faster If he orders it and I just give him cash after this. Some days after this he came to me and told me it will be better for him if I buy the keyboard by myself and bring it to the office.

Although I was the one who proposed to buy the keyboard I wasn't very happy of the situation.

Who is wrong here and how is this handled around the world. What if I've damaged something worth thousands of dollars?

Just to mention - there is no clause in my contract regarding situations like this.

  • 2
    How large is your company? Most companies that I've worked for have stacks of keyboards and mice that they're not using, because people prefer to hang on to their old models when their machines are replaced.
    – Roger
    Jul 21 '15 at 13:28
  • It was actually an Apple wireless keyboard and I've replaced it with an USB keyboard from the office. However I was asked to buy a new one. Jul 21 '15 at 13:37
  • 2
    This borders on a legal question. In most cases (in the US at least), an employee cannot be held liable for damage done in the normal course of their job. Jul 21 '15 at 13:49
  • 3
    "I was asked to buy a new one". But in your question you say you offered to buy a new one. That changes things. Next time don't offer something you can't stand behind. Normally if you damage something in the workplace, there's no need to offer to replace it. After all, it's not like it's just you going to be using it.
    – Brandin
    Jul 21 '15 at 17:12
  • workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/48846/…. Please see my related question using the link
    – Anthony
    Jul 22 '15 at 2:48

In workplaces that I've worked in the past, normal everyday accidents are covered by the workplace. Unless there is a policy of "No drinks at your computer" it would be the norm for the company to absorb the cost. The rub here is that you offered to pay for it. Once you make that offer and it's accepted you should stand behind your word.

If it is just a matter of inconvenience that you don't want to shop for it, see if it's okay to buy it online on company time and try to get it delivered to the office.

  • 2
    So are you saying I've made a mistake offering to buy it in the first place? And of course, I am standing behind my word, I've already ordered it. Jul 21 '15 at 13:54
  • 4
    Offering to pay may or may not have been the best move, but it definitely complicates matters. Jul 21 '15 at 14:05
  • 4
    @flashadvanced I don't know if I'd call it a mistake. You broke something and took responsibility for it above and beyond what is likely expected. So financially a mistake but morally not.
    – Myles
    Jul 21 '15 at 14:12
  • Agree, you didn't make a mistake you made a decision, stick with it - for one you offered to buy the keyboard but are then asking them to buy it and you'll 'pay them back', that's not buying the keyboard, that's taking responsibility for it then putting it back on them.
    – user37925
    Jul 21 '15 at 18:48

Strictly speaking, your mishap is classified as negligence in a workplace and your employer is entitled for a full refund in a way that both of you negotiate and deem fit.

Hence, you must negotiate - neither you or he can force the issue, and he can not tell you how exactly the compensation should happen.

The reason behind this is that most workplace and employment regulating laws, at least in EU, has a clause that states something similar to "you should not X, if its more than certain to cause Y", in this case, it's a widely known fact that you should avoid having fluids near electronics if you have no intention of replacing them if you damage them by spilling your drinks all over the place.

Finally, the reason why he does not want to accept your cash offer is because he wants to have a paper trail - he must write down your damaged keyboard as damages, acquire a new one and have a paper trail that says where the money for the new one came from.

Try and negotiate deduction from your salary directly for the amount the keyboard is worth - it should be pretty straightforward.

  • 1
    Strictly speaking, yes. Realistically as most employers handle it: cost of doing business, unless your error was egregiously foolish or more damaging than this. But, yeah, it's up go the employer to decide how the want to handle it ... and up to you to decide whether you want to work for that employer. Is a $10 keyboard worth making a stink over? Depends on how much you like the job.
    – keshlam
    Jul 21 '15 at 14:38
  • 1
    @keshlam Offtopic - if you show me where to get Apple wireless keyboards for $10, I will really appreciate that, heh.
    – Matiss
    Jul 21 '15 at 14:50
  • Granted, but unless there's good reason for the keyboard to be wireless, tnat's nice-not-necessary.
    – keshlam
    Jul 21 '15 at 17:39
  • @keshlam and it's not really relevant in any way. Its up to employer to decide what kind of tech equipment will be provided, and why.
    – Matiss
    Jul 21 '15 at 17:44
  • I don't particularly like these types of question because it encourages people to say what they reckon about the law. I live in the EU and in this situation my employer would be entitled to nothing. In Bulgaria I believe the OP has limited liability, to an amount probably more than a keyboard, although I don't care to go into detail. Jul 21 '15 at 23:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .