Lost work key - what to do?


There is no universal legal regulation on the case where a job code has been lost. Factors such as degree of negligence, type of locking system and type of insurance are decisive. With appropriate provision, financial liability may be limited or suspended.

Rough negligence

When a work key is lost, the first question is how the loss came about. In the case of proven gross negligence, the loser almost always remains on the costs incurred. This can cost several thousand euros for complex locking systems.

Gross negligence also exempts insurance companies from the obligation to pay. Examples of gross negligence are the lending of a private keyring including the employment keys. To send work keys by post or to store under a doormat counts as gross negligence.

Partial, full or non-liability

If gross negligence is excluded, different preconditions determine the extent of liability.

  • The employer's liability covers key loss.
  • The employee's personal liability insurance is extended to the loss of so-called "public" keys.
  • There is an own contribution or deductible in the insurance cover.
  • Within the agreed duty of care of the employee, a proportionate liability is fixed in the employment contract.
  • The type of locking system provides for a lump sum for the reproduction of work codes.

Very large locking systems not only control the opening and closing of doors and gates. Often, alarm systems are coupled or machine processes are partially controlled. In terms of employment law, the employer may, even in the absence of negligence, issue a valid warning to the employer.

Tips & Tricks

When you start a job that gives you keys, resolve any liability issues immediately. The regulation should be laid down in writing - ideally as part of the employment contract. If the employer requires the conclusion of a correspondingly extended private liability insurance, he must take over the differentiation of the insurance premium.


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