If you provide your small business's employees with laptops, phones or other devices, it's crucial to create an equipment use agreement that documents the equipment loan, explains proper care and usage and details the handling of lost, misused or damaged equipment. This document offers you some legal protection and can help prevent productivity and security issues in the workplace. Once you know the contents, you can draft this document on your own to fit your company's needs. You can also research online for a company laptop agreement template or similar form on websites like Biztree.

Equipment Use Agreement Basic Contents

In an equipment use agreement, you'll usually first name and describe the equipment you're providing employees. For example, a company laptop issue form might state the laptop's brand, specifications, initial condition and any included extras like software, chargers and cables. In addition to giving product details, the agreement might explain how the device connects to the company network and any special features as well as why the company uses the equipment.

Additional sections of a personal use of company equipment policy will detail the rules for using the equipment both in the office and at home, if applicable. There will also be a section that details providing basic care and warns employees of the risks of misusing their devices as well as details explaining how your company will handle lost or damaged equipment, including employee liability and consequences.

You'll also have a section with the basic equipment loan details, usually near the end of the agreement. This often includes the employee's name, employee ID, date, equipment assignment date and expected equipment return date. Lastly, there will be a place for the employee to sign the agreement.

Business and Personal Use Rules

Stating clearly when, where and how employees can use the company equipment is essential to avoiding productivity issues and distractions. For example, an employee laptop agreement might limit use to only regular business hours for key business functions like sending email and accessing company resources. Such a policy might clarify that users aren't permitted to access social networking websites, play online games or browse other personal websites.

If you allow personal use of company equipment, you'll want to explain which work-related applications and data users are allowed to access for nonwork activities and clarify any restrictions on having personal applications or files on the device. Further, if you allow personal calls, texting, printing and social media usage at work, it's essential to clarify the acceptable level of use and note any limits on appropriate content.

For example, you might allow your employees to take personal calls and answer texts in the event of an emergency or during breaks and lunches. At the same time, you might restrict access to questionable websites or apps that can be seen as a security risk to the company. In the case of a company printer, you might limit the number of pages for personal printing to keep your costs low and to prevent inconveniences for employees printing work-related content.

Basic Rules on Expected Care

To ensure that employees maintain the equipment so that it can be turned in when needed, a personal use of company equipment policy must spell out specific rules for caring for the item. This can include requiring that employees avoid installing unauthorized software and defacing the item with stickers or markings. Policies should also require that proper security and backup software run at all times to avoid viruses and data loss.

The agreement should also include details about prohibiting the loaning of the equipment to others, keeping the item in a safe place away from heat or liquids and taking the equipment outside the office if applicable. You might also include a provision that the company may inspect employees' equipment for adherence to the care rules and that the company can make them liable financially for problems that occur from improper care.

Damaged, Misused or Lost Equipment

Your equipment use agreement should include the process for reporting technical problems, damage or theft of the device, including contact information for a point of contact and any deadlines for notification. In the event that an employee doesn't follow the agreement and ends up physically damaging the device or causing a security breach, you should explain the consequences so that employees know what to expect.

For example, if an employee breaks or loses a company cell phone, then he may be liable to replace it at a given cost. On the other hand, an employee who excessively uses a laptop at work for personal browsing or illegal purposes may face write-ups, investigations or even termination depending on the offense.