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I'm a student and I work part-time for a medium-sized company. For one day of work, I earn around €90. Normally, I work 4 days a month, but in January I took 2 days off. Yet, my pay for this month was €660 instead of €180. This difference is too big to be a raise or a bonus.

I want to maintain a good relationship with my employer as I was lucky to get this job and I hope to keep it during my studies. So I sent an email asking if this could be a mistake. It's been over a week and I've received no response.

Should I send a follow-up or just be happy for the extra cash?

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    If you do use the telephone check if it's legal to record the call without consent from the other party (e.g. it is in my country, but not to publish the call without consent) and, if so do it. If not ask permission to do that. You need to have some proof of the call taking place and what was said and by who. Email or a registered letter would be better. Feb 15 at 17:59
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    @StephenG: "If not[,] ask permission to [record the call]." Uh, no, this is a major overreaction. Getting a reputation as "the weirdo who records phone calls" is a career-limiting move. We're talking about a simple clerical error here, we're not trying to solve a murder mystery!
    – Heinzi
    Feb 15 at 21:40
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    @Heinzi Career limiting is also discovering that some clerk or manager who has screwed up and doesn''t want to admit it instead blames you for not reporting the problem later on. When money is involved keep records. Remember this is only needed at all because the company has ignored the OP's emails which is odd in itself as any company I ever worked for was only too keen to take money back.. Feb 15 at 23:16
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    Note that this could be a bonus in the sense that you get 13 salaries per year and this payment contains the extra month. Such contracts are common in various European countries. You should still figure out what actually happened as all the answers suggest.
    – quarague
    Feb 16 at 6:36
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    Do you get a pay slip? Does that indicate the reason for the payment? Feb 16 at 6:36

3 Answers 3

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Call them. If they have a HR or a payroll start there, if not speak to your line manager.

Emails can easily get missed or lost. If they confirm it is correct then great you've got the money. If not you won't be facing a bill for the difference.

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    Once you've got a verbal answer, ask if you'll get it in writing, or at a minimum, follow up with an email of your own confirming what was said in the phone call.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 15 at 17:53
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I do not recommend that you spend it. In the USA, I know for certain that overpayment has been debated in courts and in each and every situation the company wins by default unless you can prove they said it was a bonus or that you should keep it. I'm sure in the UK and other developed countries that it holds true as well. If it is an auto deposit, do not spend it. If it is a check, do not cash it just yet.

I like the other answers that you should call and send an email. I would add the recommendation that you do not spend it at least until you talk to your boss, HR and/or payroll.

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    This. Except: if it is a check, DEPOSIT IT. But don't spend the money. Many checks, especially payroll checks, will expire after some days. If that happened, the OP would lose his/her rightful pay as well as the overpayment. Personally, if it were me, I wouldn't spend it for a year, in case the employer does/did something ridiculous.
    – Jeffiekins
    Feb 15 at 23:39
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    It's an auto deposit. Thanks for the advice - I'll give HR a call instead.
    – lev
    Feb 16 at 7:34
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    @Jeffiekins - I'm pretty sure that if you don't deposit a payroll check in time (and all the ones I've seen have been 90 or 180 days, so there's not a huge rush), they're obligated to re-issue it to you if you ask for it. In that case, it'd be easier to not deposit the check and let the company cancel it than to deposit it and then have to pay them back.
    – Bobson
    Feb 16 at 15:22
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    @Jeffiekins, in the US, it's the law that you get paid for your work, so simply not depositing a paycheck before it expired would require the employer to re-issue you a new check. You don't just lose that money for failure to deposit on time. If it was that simple, employers could write checks that expire after 5 days and wait a week to send them out. Feb 16 at 23:08
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    I remember a somewhat famous case involved a city worker receiving a large paycheck for something like 20 years. They found out and wanted it all back and the employer won. Doubtful they'd recover even half of their overpayment, but still proof enough that overpayment is normally always on the side of the employer. OP should be reaching out and get a reply to his email. That or sending a certified letter and even writing a check for the overpayment amount and if they still don't cash it or acknowledge, you'd have a better defense against them.
    – Dan
    Feb 17 at 14:29
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I' d suggest you report the possible overpay you have recognized on your account and ask for clarifications via both - mail for the paper-trail and an additional phone-call to ask them if they read it and have an answer if this was intentional or not.

Personally I would start with the payroll-department if your company has one, if not then HR. If you don't have an HR-department you can contact your direct manager/superior.

What you shouldn't do is to simply ignore it - that could backfire in some ways and harm your reputation and how you are perceived by your employer.

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