Should employer pay for personal equipment damaged at work?

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  • Of course not - how can the school control what people take to work. There are some I'm sure who would break their phone or Notepad at home and say it happened at school. It's your responsibility to look after personal items and if you've not got it insured then that's a 'lesson learned" the hard way.
  • Undervalued
    Undervalued Posts: 8,843 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    It really depends whether the employer requested the employee to use the laptop, if they didn't then the employee is liable

    Not entirely!

    Suppose the employee had been wearing a very expensive jacket and that had been damaged. By your argument the employer could avoid almost all responsibility by saying that all that was required for work was a cheap shirt!

    As I said it comes down to fault. The MacBook owner's first claim is agains the person who damaged it. He may or may not be covered by his employer but that is not the computer owner's problem.
  • MSE_Joanne wrote: »
    a technician who works there knocked over his brand new MacBook Pro and cracked the screen. The salary for a PGCE isn’t exactly large, and surely the school should have an insurance policy in place for events such as this?

    Speaking as a former (very low paid) school science technician, I'd just like to say how sorry I was to read this. I would have been mortified if that had happened on my watch.

    I don't think a lot of folks realise just how bl@@dy tough it is for PGCEs and NQTs.

    Re insurance, I'd second what jxyz, Dave16 and Exteacher have already said. I really can't emphasise highly enough the vital importance of joining a union. They will be able to advise on this issue and many more besides. Make sure he joins up!

    WW
  • Which is completely irrelevant!

    It all comes down to fault. If the person who damaged it was at fault then he is liable. As it happened at work, and in the course of his work, then his liability MAY be covered by his employer's insurance.

    Liability not as simple as that.

    There is a three stage test as to whether someone has legal liability for losses caused by their actions (1) did they owe a duty of care, (2) were they negligent in relation to that duty and (3) did that negligence result in loss.

    I'm not convinced that the lab tech had a duty of care or that they were necessarily negligent. If the student teacher left the laptop in a precarious position contributory negligence could be argued which would reduce the lab tech's liability (if liability exists) or you could even argue volenti non fit injuria which would mean that the student volunteered to the risk of harm and therefore the tech isn't liable at all.
    Common sense?...There's nothing common about sense!
  • stork_2
    stork_2 Posts: 51 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    'Undervalued' is broadly correct. If the technician was at fault (which in law means in breach of a duty of care), then the technician is liable. As it happened in the course of their employment, most likely the employer would be liable too.

    It is of course prudent to have your own insurance, as your equipment can get damaged through a 'no fault' accident. For example, if the damage was caused by a child at the school, it may be that they owe a lower, or even no, duty of care as compared to an adult employee. It's also useful to have your own insurance to deal with the situation where, even though liability is proven, the person at fault is uninsured and has insufficient money to pay up (and it can also help to avoid bad feeling with someone who might be a long-term colleague).

    The question of whether the laptop should or shouldn't have been there, or whether it was required to be there by the employer, is really irrelevant. One could argue contributory negligence depending on how/where it was left, and one could possibly argue contributory negligence where someone brings in expensive items to a school environment where those items have no relevance whatsoever in the context, but I think it would be pretty tough to argue contributory negligence against a teacher bringing a laptop into school.

    If the school has a clear policy that you must not bring such items on the premises, this might swing the argument a little bit in the other direction. However, the policy is only likely to hold up if it has been communicated effectively, and it is unlikely to hold up if the employer makes it significantly more difficult or long-winded to do the job, maybe making it impossible to do it within a reasonable number of weekly hours, without using your own equipment.

    I think that, based on what we've been told, the school should be looking to make an offer of settlement.
  • Undervalued
    Undervalued Posts: 8,843 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    edited 15 October 2014 at 11:32AM
    Liability not as simple as that.

    There is a three stage test as to whether someone has legal liability for losses caused by their actions (1) did they owe a duty of care, (2) were they negligent in relation to that duty and (3) did that negligence result in loss.

    I'm not convinced that the lab tech had a duty of care or that they were necessarily negligent. If the student teacher left the laptop in a precarious position contributory negligence could be argued which would reduce the lab tech's liability (if liability exists) or you could even argue volenti non fit injuria which would mean that the student volunteered to the risk of harm and therefore the tech isn't liable at all.

    Which is why, to keep it simple, I said......
    If the person who damaged it was at fault then he is liable.

    I agree with you about contributory negligence which is why, again to keep it simple, I said "if he was at fault". Obviously if only partly at fault then he would only be partially liable.

    However, I don't see why you are "not convinced the lab tech had a duty of care". Are you suggesting that he has no duty of care to anything or anybody in his workplace unless the employer specifically required it to be there? That would be crazy!
  • However, I don't see why you are "not convinced the lab tech had a duty of care". Are you suggesting that he has no duty of care to anything or anybody in his workplace unless the employer specifically required it to be there? That would be crazy!



    No, that is not what I am suggesting. There are a number of circumstances/relationships where it is established in law that a duty of care automatically exists (ie between users of the public highway, doctor/patient, parent/child, employer/employee). The scenario posed in the OP does not (as far as I am aware) fit with an established automatic duty of care. It would be for the courts to decide if a duty of care existed - I'm not sure that they would find that a lab tech had a duty of care to personal property of a colleague left lying around in the workplace.
    Common sense?...There's nothing common about sense!
  • unlikelyheroine
    unlikelyheroine Posts: 68 Forumite
    First Post Combo Breaker First Anniversary
    edited 15 October 2014 at 12:52PM
    No, that is not what I am suggesting. There are a number of circumstances/relationships where it is established in law that a duty of care automatically exists (ie between users of the public highway, doctor/patient, parent/child, employer/employee). The scenario posed in the OP does not (as far as I am aware) fit with an established automatic duty of care. It would be for the courts to decide if a duty of care existed - I'm not sure that they would find that a lab tech had a duty of care to personal property of a colleague left lying around in the workplace.

    I agree. I also doubt the school itself has a duty to ensure that its employees don't accidentally break other people's personal property. To me there has been no breach here, because no duty exists. Duty of care as a legal concept in the context of the tort of negligence is quite specific. It is not naturally in place for negligence claims for one employee to another or from an employer to an employee for something along these lines. It would be a different question if the employee had injured the PGCE student rather than damaged his computer.

    If I were the school, there is no way I would offer to settle as suggested above. Personally I doubt insurance covers a claim like this but I also very much doubt that if pursued that the claim would be successful.
  • I would never take anything valuable into school: I would advise the PGCE student to change their mindset and be prepared for damage to personal property if it is brought to a school. I have spent a lot on repairing damage to my car over the years-and I have not always taught in inner city schools. One of my colleagues had his motor bike written off by a Governor who drove into it. So Amen to getting insurance and joining a Union.
  • stork_2
    stork_2 Posts: 51 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    It would be strange indeed if a technician did not owe a duty of care to those around -- including students, colleagues and members of the public. Quite how far that duty extends is a matter for debate, but I don't see any good policy reason not to extend it to taking reasonable care not to damage those persons' property.

    I haven't argued that the school has a primary duty of care in this situation -- the school's liability would arise vicariously through their position as employer (in relation to negligence occurring in the course of an employee being an employee).

    A duty of care can even exist between complete strangers. If I cause an accident of some sort in the street, and it injures a stranger or damages their property, and even if this is not in the course of being a road user (where the duty is clearly established), I'd be at risk of being found liable for the injury/damage.

    I don't disagree with any of the practical advice about insurance, union membership and trying to avoid taking private property on school premises, but I do take issue with the argument that you don't owe a duty of care to your colleagues in respect of their belongings. And of course, many employees take their most valuable piece of moveable property, namely a motor vehicle, onto an employer's premises every day. If a colleague damages it there, why shouldn't they be held liable?
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