Employee Damaging Equipment

How you handle equipment damages when the employee has been trained on the proper use and handling but doesn’t pay attention?
Do you make them pay, or jsut write it off to stupidity?

Give us more details? I think depending on the cost, I might handle it differently.

$250 hub attachment. Instructions are wash, rinse, sanitize place back in hub. Employee left it on the drain rack of the sink to answer a text message on the cell and then knocked it on the floor by pushing other dishes on the drain rack.

I also have a no cell policy in the kitchen.

I don’t think you can leagally charge the employee to replace the equipment. I would repremand this employee for damaging company property and for abusing cellular phone rule. Then, follow up and monitor the employee’s work afterwards to make sure he is following the rules. If the employee still has a disregard for the rules, they do not need to work for you which is what they are supposed to be doing anyway instead of answering text messages.


Pizza Man D was right in that you cannot legally charge an employee for damage to property or equipment. Since the damage occured as a result of an employee breaking the rule, you have grounds to fire them. Is the incident in itself enough, well, no but here’s some advice on how to treat this.

Write up both of these incidents separately: 1: the employee was breaking the no cell phone usage rule. 2: the employee is responsible for 250.00 dollars worth of damage on a piece of equipment that they were trained on how to use.

A simple reprimand is not enough, the severity of their actions needs to be reinforced by writing them up. Also, if this happens again–either damage of equipment or using the cell, you can fire them without unemployement. The process is usually 1-3 verbal warnings, then 2 written warnings–with the 3rd incident grounds for firing.

In this case because of the severity and cost of what they did, a verbal warning is not enough. Damage to property happens, accidents happen and employers have to eat the cost, but when damage (costly damage) occurs when rules and safety procedures and training are ignored, that’s something something else.

You can make up your own employee written notice forms.
They must say that they are “Notice of Misconduct” forms
You must state the day and time of occurance and what rules were broken. You must state that the employee was trained on the proper proceedure for operation of the machine. You can also state that the reason they broke the machine was because they answered a personal cell phone in the kitchen…etc

You call this the first warning, sign it, date it and have the employee do the same. Put this in their file.

Then have a second Notice that nails them for breaking the no cell phone rule in the kitchen.

Call this the second warning and state that this employee has been notified that any third written warning could result in their termination.

Go through the signing and dating yours, and theirs.

It is also good practice to give them a copy of the written notices.

This is the official way of treating such matters, it also shows your employees that you mean business and that you are dead serious.

I’d charge the employee. They were breaking your specific rules on cellphone use and that caused them to break your equipment. If they argue it fire them. Then withhold their last check. I have pottery barn rules, you break it you bought it. Otherwise carelessness would ultimately prevail with no consequences. I tell everyone that all items are theirs and treat them as such because if they break it they have to replace it. It works for me. Not sure on the legality of it but then again laws are broken everyday by everyone (ever drive faster than the speed limit?) so I am looking out for me and my store the employees, who will not be there next year more than likely, don’t care. Sad but it is how I feel.


Yes, one option would be to charge them for the damage and or to take it out of their final paycheck–but both of those actions are as you pointed out, illegal.

While no one will call the police on you, if you get one disgruntled employee, they can call the labor board on you and they will come in and audit ALL of your practises–most unpleasant.

What’s worth more?

illegal? unless, of course you have it mentioned in their contract that they are responsible for assets in their control.

Even if you had it in a “contract” that they were responsible, it would still be illegal to withhold what they owed you from their paycheck.

This “contract” might make them responsible, but you’d have to collect the money owed separate from their pay. Good luck with that.