I was working for a company on and off for the past year or so. I worked for them over this recent Christmas period (ages ago I know) and got paid mid January for my work. I then received a letter on the 7th of April claiming that I had been overpaid. I checked my payslip and I couldn't figure out where this overpayment had occurred. The letter claims that they were unaware that I would be leaving the company on the 21st of Jan and so I have been paid full basic pay up to the 31st Jan. This is untrue because I informed by manager what dates I would be starting and finishing as I was only working during my university holidays and informed her that I would return to university on the 11th of January and was therefore not available to work after this time. I am further confused how this has happened considering the company pays you based on you clocking in and out. The company therefore claims I have been overpaid £112.00 from the approx £300.00 that I was paid in January.

I know I have left this unresolved for over a month but I have been very busy with university and also left the letter at home (I live at university) which I understand is completely my fault. I do not plan on returning to the company and therefore they will not be able to deduct this from further pay.

I know £112.00 is not a lot of money and I can pay it back using some of my student loan. However, I was unaware of this overpayment until months after it had occurred and therefore had no reason to believe I couldn't spend the money, and it was my managers laziness, by not informing the company of my leaving dates, that has caused this to happen. I've read on other posts on this website that imply that I may not be required to pay this money back. I am expected to either send a check or do a bank transfer to pay back the money. I do want to pay the money back because ethically that would be the right thing to do because I am a good and honest person, but it was simply my managers and the companies incompetance for putting me in this position. I just wish they would have informed me as soon as the mistake had been made and then I wouldnt be in this position.

I just wondered whether I am legally requried to pay this money back. Thanks.

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    Legal questions like this are usually off-topic here. The linked question above covers your rights in this scenario and I actually think a broad question on this would be on-topic, it's just situation-specific questions that are off-topic. Anyhow, OP, I'd suggest asking their HR/payroll department to work out a payment plan (overkill for this amount) or agreeing on a repayment date some months in the future so you can budget this properly. They should be willing to meet you in the middle here. – Lilienthal May 23 '16 at 19:45
  • Were you paid hourly as simply x per hour multiplied by y hours or was your pay structured in some way with a base amount + hourly added on? – brhans May 23 '16 at 19:53
  • You say you want to pay it back due to ethics, but you asked the question and seem to be trying justify not paying it back due to it being someone else's mistake that caused it. And now you're hoping the Internet will side with you. Do the right thing and pay it back. You knew it was an overage and did nothing about it. – Kent A. May 23 '16 at 20:51
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    Your first mistake was not dealing with this 6 weeks ago. – HorusKol May 23 '16 at 22:55

Mistakes happen.

Depends on the size/nature of the company why - but they happen. It could be your manager's laziness, but it could just as easily be that all the systems you mention are NOT connected to the payroll system. Or that the payroll system simply screwed up.

Do you legally have to pay it back? The answer is - this isn't the right forum - ask a lawyer with experience in your locale.

Is it ethical to pay it back? Yes. If you honestly believe you have been overpaid then it's the same as other errors in the exchange of money for goods/services - it's generally the ethical thing to be honest in the face of other honest mistakes. If you do the math and you DON'T see a mistake in your paycheck, you're well within your rights ethically to contest it and argue. Given payroll systems, you'll probably be arguing a long time.

What can they do if you don't?

  • Bother you. A lot.
  • Hire a credit agency to collect (a more efficient and remote way of bothering you)
  • Take you to court for a small claim
  • Impact on your credit score
  • Wait and see if you ever return to being employed by them and garnish your wages then

If you do decide to pay them back, I'd insist on getting a receipt. They sound like a mess, from a paperwork perspective, so you'll want a way to prove that you paid them back in case they loose track of the payment.

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Dig out your employment contract (I assume you signed one?) and see what that says about leaving the company and pay. Do you have proof that you told your boss you were leaving? If so, use that to fight not paying it. If you can't find it, ask them for a copy. If they don't respond, they probably aren't going to chase you for that money.

If your employment contract states that they require notice that you didn't provide (for example, written and you provided verbal) then you should pay up, because you didn't stick by the rules.

I would also query what action you face as a result of not paying. Finally, your university careers service are probably best placed to give you advice on this, so I would advise getting in touch with them! They will be well experienced with student employment contracts.

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If they sent the letter over a month ago and you didn't answer them and yet they haven't tried contacting you again, just pretend you never received the letter.

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  • Why the downvotes? – undefined May 24 '16 at 11:58

Ignore it, any reply can be seen as agreeing that it is in fact a legitimate issue. If they eventually follow up, ignore that as well.

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