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Real Estate Accounting

Discussion Question:

Susan works in a real estate office that is equipped with up-to-date copiers, scanners, and printers. She is frequently the only employee working in the office in the evenings and often has spare time to do personal work. She has begun to use the office equipment for her children’s school reports and for her husband’s business. Do you think Susan’s use of the office equipment is harmless, or is she behaving unethically? why?

Response 1: W.S.

Susan’s use of the company equipment, especially the copier and supplies are a misuse of company resources and assets. Most companies have supply budgets and big organizations (especially universities) use copiers with user codes so that they can keep a more accurate record of use and cost, which can increase with misuse. According to Reimers (2015), misuse or employee theft is one of the big risks that businesses must consider that a person makes steal their assets.  In an article on Employee Theft, by Business Practical Knowledge, A Guide to Small Business, it covers the things that an employee can or might steal money, time, information, supplies, merchandise or company property. Yes, that pen that a person might drop in their purse or stick in their pocket from time to time. There are some that tell themselves, “they got plenty, they won’t miss it”, or “I’m working from home, I will bring it back”. Realistically, those pens tend to never make it back, or if they do, they are in your briefcase or at the bottom of your purse. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75 percent of all employees steal at least once and that half of these steal repeatedly. The Chamber also reports that one of every three business failures is the direct result of employee theft. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employee dishonesty costs American business in excess of $50 billion annually” according to the same article.

Response 2: E.W.

Is it unethical for an employee to use company equipment? Susan has been using the company’s equipment that is provided to do her daily job for personal use. It is unethical if she has used the company’s equipment for her children’s school reports and her husband’s business. If she would have spoken to the owner of the company and they had told her she could have printed one thing for her child’s school report it would have been okay because the owner gave her permission, but that doesn’t mean she should print multiple things for her child. When she used the company’s resources for her husband’s business, it was unethical. She shouldn’t even ask the owner to do anything while on the company time for another business. “Unethical people may steal a firm’s inventory” (Reimers, 2015, p. 234). When she used resources like the copier, she was stealing the companies paper and ink. Some people don’t think it is unethical to conduct personal business while on the clock, but it is. Besides resources being stolen from the company, time is also stolen. Since the employee is clocked in and making an hourly wage, they are on company time and are stealing from the company. If they are doing anything other than the job they are hired to do for the company it is unethical.

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