Ask Jack: Can I Require Employees To Lock Up Their Laptops At Work And At Home?

By Jack McCalmon, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

We recently had a laptop stolen. What a nightmare! It had sensitive information on it. Can we make it a requirement of employment that employees keep their laptops locked and secured whenever the machine is not in use?

Yes, you can make it a requirement to keep laptops and other mobile devices locked up.

It's a best practice because laptops are a high target item for theft. According to one source, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds and the average cost to an organization from a stolen laptop is $47,000.

You should make it a requirement that, when not in use, a laptop is under some form of lock and key. In the office, that may be locked into a dock, desk, or security cabinet. If in a car, then the laptop needs to be in a trunk and if at home, locked to a desk, dock, or in a desk.

You should stress that no one should leave their laptop with someone they do not know. For example, asking a stranger at the airport to watch your laptop while you stand in line for a latte is a very bad idea. Instead, employees should pack the laptop into a case and carry it with them.

The final takeaways are that your employees need to create very strong passwords to gain access to a laptop; should limit auto-fill; put tracking devices on laptops; and, if a laptop or mobile device is missing, notify IT as soon as possible.

Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, and Emily Brodzinski are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, or Emily Brodzinski to consider for this column, please submit it to Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.


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