Final Pay and Returning Company Properties

Hi everyone,

Over the years I've seen a lot of wisdom from OzBargainers - so here I am seeking your help!

Story is:

A friend of mine resigned recently and his company decided to terminate his employment on the day of resignation rather than getting him to serve out his notice period.

On the day, he confirmed details of the company properties in his possession, including the usual WFH provisions such as a monitor, laptop, mobile phone and a company vehicle.

The Sydney lock down restriction has tightened on his day of resignation and he happened to be living in one of the "hot spots" so not permitted to leave his suburb.

He recently received a call from HR stating "we won't release your final pay unless all properties are returned" - after explaining the lockdown restrictions, the company agreed to send someone to pick up the company properties instead, and also stating "normally it is the employee’s responsibility to ensure all property is returned to the company, and not normal for the company to chase or pick up the equipment."

On balance, I don't think he has left the company on good terms because there were unresolved conflicts with his manager (part of the reasons why he left).

Now the company has been extremely slow in arranging the pick up and not responding to his emails / calls. He's unsure if he will receive his final pay on time which is difficult for him financially.

Questions:
1. do you think it's right that the final pay is subject to a return of company properties? I don't think so because he clearly wants them returned!

  1. do you think it's "normally" an employee responsibility to return company properties - noting all the properties were provided to facilitate the "working from home" arrangements for the benefit of the company.

Thank you

Comments

  • +4 votes

    Yes "final pay" is subject to return of the company property & paying any outstanding dues both ways (i.e. final salary balance including leave accrual as well as employee pro-rata payments required to be paid back to company e.g. visa costs).

    This does not negate paying your friend their salary as per normal and pushing the "final payment" to following cycle if not ready to settle final account. That can happen even if no longer an employee. So they should be paying him normal salary on-time and any outstanding bits and pieces in the next final one.

    Yes it's the employee responsibility to return company property. Posting laptops and kit via post or courier is not unusual. However, this lockdown period certainly is unusual and they should have been far more understanding & flexible.

  • +10 votes

    I'm by no means an expert but contrary to Hybroid's answer above, I would say that final pay and the return of company property are two separate issues, and as such should not impede each other.

    My understanding is that the company must pay the (ex)employees pay, plus any further payments under the law, annual leave, payment in lieu of notice, etc, under the next pay cycle. Failure to do so could relate to a complaint to Fair Work.

    The return of the company equipment would be a civil case. Your friend wants to return it, and the company said they will pick it up, if they are delaying that, that is on them. If your friend fails to return it to them, that is a criminal and/or civil case that would be resolved through tribunal/court/police.

    • +2 votes

      It's often part of the employment contract (or a seperate contract for use of company goods), that should employment be ended, the company's property is returned, or deducted from the final pay. If they return his final pay, and then he just ghosts them, how do they get their property back.

      An alternative would be they make the final payment, minus the costs of the equipment, with a possibility of reimbursement once they receive the goods.

      Just like he's having trouble dropping it off, they could be having trouble getting someone willing to go into a "hotspot" area to pick it up. However the onus is on him, not them.

  • +2 votes

    Why couln't your friend arrange a courier to collect and deliver the goods?

    • +1 vote

      UberConnect might work.
      The Company can organize it and pay for their Property to be conveyed back. Your friend just needs to have everything ready for the UberCollect and job done.

      Bonus Tip
      Take photos of Items (Condition) you are returning and keep a List Recording all Property, you get special bonus Points if your Photos include Serial Numbers.

    •  

      We just had this done by 2 people in our Shitney office

    •  

      Why couln't your friend arrange a courier to collect and deliver the goods?

      One of the items is a car.

      It's really up to both parties to organise the pickup with particular responsibility on the company.

  • +2 votes

    I read between the lines here and it seems there is more going on than what the OP may suggest.

    For a company to decide to release someone straight away and pay them the notice period, there must have been some serious conflicts.

    Are you sure “your friend”, didn’t say “F them, I am not returning anything”…

    But to answer your questions, yes it is his responsibility to return the equipment, yes the company is right to withhold payment until equipment is returned. If they don’t, how will they recover the cost of the equipment if it isn’t returned.
    IT equipment contains intellectual property and it would be clearly detailed in the employment contract.

    • +2 votes

      For a company to decide to release someone straight away and pay them the notice period, there must have been some serious conflicts.

      Not necessarily - it's quite common in a lot of industries. I've been paid out my notice period before, and there certainly wasn't any animosity from either side. Many roles with access to sensitive commercial information will be paid out in lieu.

    • +1 vote

      A company I worked for would have security box your personal items & escort you out when you gave notice. They'd pay you for the two weeks but you had to leave. It was a security issue. All employees were subject to it. We called it "The Farewell Vacation".

  • +2 votes

    Respond back to HR stating that if they do not take back property by end of notice period, then he is considered employed by their logic that he has not received final pay, and deserves to be paid at same rate for each day they delay. If they have any objections with this, you will happily forward this to fair work to solve this impasse.

    Throw bullshit back at them. I assume the return/final pay is not part of contract.

  • +1 vote

    do you think it's right that the final pay is subject to a return of company properties? I don't think so because he clearly wants them returned!

    Yes, and entirely normal.

    do you think it's "normally" an employee responsibility to return company properties - noting all the properties were provided to facilitate the "working from home" arrangements for the benefit of the company.

    Yes, and again, entirely normal.

    Obviously there are circumstances at play presently that are unusual. This should naturally entail some "give and take" by both parties. That doesn't mean "your friend" can simply scream "LOCKDOWN!" and all the rules fly out the window and the employer just gives up their equipment. It would seem that the employer is willing to look at courier arrangements. Perhaps "your friend" could do the same.

  •  

    I think everyone has answered all your questions - very common for companies to withhold your pay until company asset/property is returned. It’s very easy for people not to return something or be bothered once the payout is done esp when “your friend” left in bad terms.

    If you are unable to return in person you would need to arrange a courier or company would/could arrange someone to pick up from you - providing they are following covid rules etc etc.

    I think if “your friend” left in good terms there might be ways to go about this but again - very common for companies to do that unless their HR team have no clue what they are doing.

  •  

    Thanks everyone for your useful feedback.

    My friend has received his final pay in full - however still no response on when the company will pick up the properties - he still has the company vehicle in his driveway! It might be a severance gift?

    I personally agree with AdosHouse's view - final pay and return of properties are two separate issues.

    •  

      Park the Car in the Street w/For Sale? sign and Company Phone Number.

      Job Done. :+)