Can an Employer Require Me to Use My Own Computer?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Company Computer Policies

Copyright Cultura RM/Jason Butcher/Getty Images

Can an employer make you use your own computer at work? Is it acceptable for a company to require you to have a cell phone so they can easily get in touch?

It may be easier for you to use your personal computer or phone – it is for many people. On the other hand, you may not want to be lugging your laptop back and forth to the office, or you would prefer to keep your personal data separate from your professional work.

Bringing Your Computer to Work

Do you have a choice if you’re asked to bring your own computer to work? It would be a challenge for most employers to require staff or prospective employees to utilize their personal computers without compensation because it would put them at a disadvantage when competing to hire the best talent.  Work provided laptops, phones and tablets or an allowance to buy them are considered an employee benefit or perk.

However, employers can ask you to use your own devices at work. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) policies typically include tablets and smartphones as well as laptops.  It can save companies time, money and resources if they don’t have to provide or support workplace computers.

Increased use of personally owned computers in the workplace is also being driven by employees who want the convenience of using their personal laptop.

  Many employees work from home at least part of the time and prefer to carry their computer to work in order to continue tasks started at home or to use preferred technology.  

In addition, almost everyone wants to stay connected while at work and having your own devices with you makes it’s easier to do that.

Employer BYOD Policies

An employer can require you to use your own computer at work, though for a variety of practical and market-based reasons it is difficult to find an organization with this policy.  

Most employees are hired at will which means that employers can dictate most conditions of work.  However, if you are covered by a union or personal employment contract you may have protections from these types of requirements or be guaranteed compensation if you use personal equipment on the job. 

Company Technology Allowances

Some companies may provide a technology fund or allowance that you can use to help purchase a computer or other devices to use for work. So, you may be provided with funds you can use to make sure that you have up-to-date technology.

For example, a company could provide a $1000 allowance per year for employee personal equipment purchases. If the company has a policy there may be a waiting period to be eligible for reimbursement.

Some companies have a policy that states that if you leave the company within a certain amount of time after being reimbursed (90 days, for example) the amount you were reimbursed will be deducted from your final paycheck.

When Employers Don’t Allow Outside Technology

Some employers do not allow outside technology in the office for fear of security breaches, integration problems or electronic contagions.


Check the Rules

If you’re not sure about the rules for using outside technology or whether you are provided an allowance to purchase equipment, check with your manager or Human Resources department.