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What is the legal definition of Personal Use?" Virginia

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  • What is the legal definition of Personal Use?" Virginia

    Hello,

    My question is in regard to the term “personal use.” An employee who works in our purchasing department used her company issued credit card to purchase an office chair for herself. This chair is a very unusual chair and not one that anyone else would most likely want to use. The chair was added to a purchase order (PO) that contained requests for other routine office supplies. The employee asked someone other than her direct supervisor (another supervisor) to sign off on the purchase requisition, since all of the other items on the PO were for that supervisor’s department. She also did not follow our purchasing rules by buying the chair from one of our preferred vendors.

    The employee will be reprimanded in writing with other possible consequences one of which is termination, however I do not agree with something that a person in our Human Resources Department added to the written reprimand. Using a company issued credit card for personal use is strictly forbidden and could result in the credit card being taken away. What was added to the reprimand was:

    “According our Card Policy in the Purchasing Manual, use of the card for personal items is prohibited and equates to misuse. Cardholders that demonstrate non-compliance with policy, according to our Purchasing Manual, will lose their cards. If the purchase of this chair is considered personal, your actions could constitute non-compliance with policy.”

    I am not sure why we would even include this statement since the would “if” is used. I think we would only put this statement in the reprimand if we had all ready determined that the purchase was a personal purchase.

    Also since she is using the chair in her office while she is working at her computer, I don’t think it is appropriate to say that she used her credit card for a personal use. I think that the purchase was not the best use of company funds because the use of the chair is not easily transferable to other employees, should the employee who bought it leave. However she is using the chair during her working hours. She has not taken it home or used it on her personal time.

    Any guidance that you can provide regarding what constitutes purchasing an item for personal use with a company credit card would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Lynn

  • #2
    I doubt if you will find a statutory definition.

    Who are you in this scenario?
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by cbg View Post
      I doubt if you will find a statutory definition.

      Who are you in this scenario?
      The employee works in one of the departments that I am responsible for. I am not her direct supervisor, but the local Human Resources Manager wanted my opinion on what she had been advised to write by our Central Human Resources Liason.

      Thank you for your response, you are probably correct there does not seem to be a statutory definition.

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      • #4
        If you are suggesting that the policy could be better written, that is true for most policies. Something to address in a future revision. But as of today, you have to play the hand you were dealt. Even if we take the personnal property issue off the table, you still have an employee spending money without approval and deliberately gaming the system. That action would have adverse consequences anywehre I have worked.
        - You can legally fire this person. That should be considered.
        - If not, strongly consider an unpaid suspension. Make it very clear this is not acceptable.
        - Very strongly consider taking away the company credit card. If the employee misused the card once, why would anyone not expect it to happen again.
        - Not the question, but you have apparent holes in your procedures and questions which should be addressed. I would not assume that this was the only questionable transactin to occur, just the only one that got caught. You might start with auditing all credit card transactions for this employee and see what other games have been played.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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        • #5
          I am sitting on the bench with DAW.... I would take "personal use" out of the equation all together. And work with the other facts that you have. And consider speaking with the manager who approved the invoice with something on it for a different person/department.

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          • #6
            I agree with DAW. I also wouldn't let her keep the chair. That is allowing her to benefit from her wrongdoing. Either have the chair returned or give it to another employee or put in a conference room.

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