Many businesses restrict access to certain buildings or parts of buildings that employees need to enter to perform their jobs.

The business can issue a key to an employee, which allows her to access the restricted area.

Before issuing the key, the business may require the employee to sign a keyholder agreement. The keyholder agreement includes rules about proper use of the key, and penalties for improper use.


A keyholder agreement may establish liability for damaged furniture and equipment in the restricted area. This can include intentional acts, such as the employee using the key to open up a door so an unauthorised person can enter the building, and unintentional acts, such as carelessly leaving a door open after the employee leaves the building.


A keyholder agreement may prohibit duplication of the key by the employee. Some keys include their own access restrictions, such as electronic keys, but a metal key that doesn't include other security features is relatively simple and cheap to duplicate. According to the University of Denver, an employer may decide to pursue criminal charges against an employee who duplicates a key without permission.


If the employee loses the key, the keyholder agreement may specify what the employee must do to get a new key.

The agreement may state that the employee must report a lost key within a certain time period, such as a day. The employer may charge a fine, such as £13, before it gives the employee a new key.

The employer may still charge this fine even if the loss is not the employee's fault because someone stole the key. If the building is under stronger security restrictions, the employer may also need to change the locks on the building, so the employee may also have to pay for lock replacement, which may be much more costly.


The keyholder agreement includes terms that require the employee to return the key if the employer asks for it back, because the employer owns the key. If the company decides to terminate the employee, or assign him to work at a different building, the employee must return the key to the person or department that the keyholder agreement specifies.

If the employee posts a key deposit when the company gives her the key, the employee receives this deposit back when she returns the key. If the keyholder doesn't return the key within the time period that the agreement specifies, the agreement may state that the keyholder has to pay the key replacement fee, and the lock replacement costs as well.