Can an Employer Require Me to Use My Own Computer?

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Company Policies

Young businesswoman using laptop at work.
Photo: Simon Ritzmann / Getty Images

There are benefits to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) computer policies at work. For example, BYOD policies allow you to use your personal computer, which you might be more familiar with than a new work computer. Many people like the seamlessness of doing both work and personal activities on the same computer.

On the other hand, BYOD policies can lead to problems. You may not want to lug your laptop back and forth to the office, or you might prefer to keep your personal data separate from your professional work. You also might not own a computer, which leads to questions about whether you will have to pay for one yourself.

Read below for more detailed information about BYOD policies, including what employers are (and are not) allowed to ask you to do.

The Pros of Bringing Your Computer to Work

Benefits for Employers

Employers might ask you to use your laptop or personal computer at work. These policies can save companies time, money, and resources since they don’t have to provide or support workplace computers.

Benefits for Employees

Employees also find these policies beneficial. They often like the convenience of using their personal laptops. Many employees work from home at least part of the time and may prefer to carry their computers to work to continue tasks started at home. It’s often easier to use the technology they are already familiar with. 


Almost everyone wants to stay connected with life outside the office while at work and having your own computer (and other devices) with you makes it easier to do that.

The Cons of Bringing Your Computer to Work

There are some potential drawbacks to a BYOD policy, for both employees and employers. For example, employees who mostly work in the office may not want to carry their laptop or device back and forth (or leave their personal property in a drawer at work).

Privacy Issues

Others might want to keep their work and personal lives separate. Using the same computer for both tasks makes that hard. Similarly, employees might have concerns about privacy. If the employer wants access to the information on their personal computers, they might worry that the employer will be able to access their financial, health, or other personal records.

Security Issues

Employers also have potential concerns about BYOD policies. For example, when employees use personal computers, there is an increased security risk. If an employee loses their laptop or does not protect a laptop, the company could lose or disclose important information.

Employer BYOD Policies

In most cases, an employer can require you to use your own computer at work, and offer you no compensation, though for a variety of reasons it is rare to find an organization with this kind of strict policy. 

Employees Covered by a Contract

For example, 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.

State Laws

Some states also have laws about what employers can and cannot ask employees to pay for. For instance, California requires employers to cover many of their employees’ business expenses, including providing reasonable compensation for personal devices used at work.

Offering Employees Options

Most employer BYOD policies try to solve some of these potential problems. For example, most employers suggest employees use their personal computers, but also offer alternatives. For example, they might provide laptops and other devices if an employee does not want to bring their own. The offer of a work-provided laptop is a common job benefit.

Some companies may provide a technology fund or allowance that you can use to help purchase a computer or other devices for work use. For example, a company could provide a $1,000 allowance per year for employee personal equipment purchases. A technology allowance is another common job perk.


Some organizations 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. 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.

Using Other Personal Devices at Work

BYOD policies typically include not only laptops and personal computers but also tablets and smartphones. Many of the policies explained above work the same for these other devices.

You will often be compensated if you are asked to use a personal device. For instance, if you are asked to use your personal smartphone for work, the employer might offer to pay a reasonable percentage of your phone bill.

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  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. “Hospital Bring-Your-Own-Device Security Challenges and Solutions: Systematic Review of Gray Literature.” Accessed May 3, 2021.

  2. National Law Review. “Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.; California Court Tells Employers to Pay Part of Employees’ Cell Phone Bills.” Accessed May 3, 2021.

  3. SHRM. “BYOD Policies: What Employers Need to Know.” Accessed May 3, 2021.

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