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Work Supplies for Personal Use

Is someone allowed to use work supplies for personal use, if it typically won’t detract from the item? For example, a computer game purchased to enhance students’ knowledge,szissors, CD’s… What about things which are consumable, but which most people would be mochel on (e.g. a little bit of glue, a piece or two of colored paper, paper clips…)?


 If no loss in incurred by the use of the item, it is generally permitted to use supplies for personal use. This is also true for items that most people are mochel on — for instance, a worker making a private phone call from the firm’s telephone. however, the permissibility of such use depends on the daas (the permission) of the employer, and unless the use is so common that there is no doubt as to his granting permission, it is always preferable to ask the employer what he permits, and what he doesn’t. I know of several employees who have created a kiddush Hashem by asking their employers questions that don’t cross the minds of most employees, and it is proper to do so.

Sources: Concerning use of others’ property when they don’t mind, see Shach 358:1 and Ketzos Hachoshen 262:1. Most authorities rule like the Shach who permits the use. The case of an employee is still stronger, because is it ‘customary’ to make some personal use of business supplies. However, because there are many penumbra areas (cases of doubt), it is always preferable to ask the employer, to ensure that the boundary lines are well-defined.

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