Q&A Employees Leaving Behind Belongings

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5 Minutes HR 05 800x400 Q&A Employees Leaving Behind Belongings

Question from Employer: My employee quit without notice and left behind in her office some framed family photos and a few other personal items. What should I do with these personal items?


There is no specific labor law addressing an employer’s obligation to retain or deliver personal property left behind. You may choose to contact the employee to arrange pick up, or you could mail other delivery services. When the former employee cannot be located, the employer must determine how ling to keep the items left behind. In deciding how long to keep the former employee’s things, an employer should keep in mind that in California, “abandonment requires non-use- accompanied by unequivocal and decisive acts showing an intent to abandon.”

An employer therefore should make every reasonable effort to contact the former employee to arrange for return of items. Some suggestion Include:

  • Attempting to reach the former employee by mail, phone, email and or text
  • Calling anyone the former employee may have listed as emergency contact
  • Asking current employees who had been friends

If these efforts fail, after a reasonable period, the employer may determine that the property has been abended and dispose of it.

Reference: California Labor law, HR California ALERT