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My manager is responsible for negotiating work contracts and organises payment of wages. A couple of years ago I renegotiated my working hours with her. We came to an agreement that I would get the hours I wanted and that she would pay me for one extra hour (that I wasn't working) each week. That way I would owe my workplace 52 hours work a year, and I could come and occasionally do cover if there were illnesses/overlapping annual leave.

Recently I have had to do a little more cover than usual. Whenever my manager asks me to work an extra shift, after checking my schedule and confirming, I always say the same thing to her "remember not to pay me!" This is because once or twice she has paid me overtime on my wage slip.

Today I received my wage slip and realised that I have been paid for a full day's worth of overtime. As I haven't worked off the 52 hours (my year runs from August to August) I should not be getting paid for any overtime. This isn't a lot of money, but I am concerned that the pattern may continue, and then it potentially will be a lot of money. I spoke to my manager about it today, she was very dismissive and in effect said "it's fine, you've been working a lot lately."

Can I keep the money given that 1. I asked not to be paid 2. I verbally pointed out the 'error' to my manager?

I am worried because my manager was involved in an incident last year where she paid an ex-colleague 6 months of wages in error. The colleague had been on longterm sick-leave, but after the legal time to keep paying her had expired my manager continued to pay her. The bosses noticed this in a later audit and wanted the colleague to pay back the full sum. The manager ended up paying the sum back out of her own pocket because she felt guilty about the situation. I don't know if this previous occasion had been accidental, due to negligence, or if she had been hoping no-one would notice as she wanted to help my colleague out. Certainly in my case it is deliberate and it could possibly be a way of making me feel more in debt so that I work even more hours than the 52 agreed.

I do not want to be in a situation where I have to pay anything back. I could go direct to the bosses, but they already have a dim view of my manager and seem to be looking for ways to get her to resign, and I don't want to cause her any trouble. As I said, we're not talking about a lot of money at the moment, but I would like to know how I should proceed. Any advice?

I do actually work the 52 hours overtime each year. There is no formal timesheet, and at least one (if not both) of my bosses is aware of the arrangement, though not the fact that she has paid me 'twice.'

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    When you were speaking to her, (when she was dismissive), did you bring up your concern that you'd have to pay it back? You could always just keep it in a separate savings account and then pay it back if they ask for it... (though be careful as if been taxed on the extra earnings you don't want to give back the full amount without getting that tax back) – colmde Nov 21 '16 at 14:19
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    Interesting how this may technically constitute timesheet fraud. Are you hourly or salaried? Are you working in he US? To be honest it sounds like your manager should stop getting creative with timesheets and start paying people a correct (but higher) salary. All that being said, what goal do you actually want to accomplish? Pay the money back? Revisit your renumeration? Verify that it's all above board? – Lilienthal Nov 21 '16 at 14:47
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    This whole arrangement smells fishy. Why wouldn't your boss just pay you for extra hours you covered when you provided that cover? Paying in advance for hours you may or may not work seems, at best, bad practice. – Laconic Droid Nov 21 '16 at 15:04
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    Not paying you overtime for hours above 40 in a week is a much bigger problem for the company. – Jon Custer Nov 21 '16 at 15:09
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    Not an answer, but that initial agreement was very unwise. You both created an ambiguous situation, without proper record keeping and possibly no written agreement, so you should not be surprised that the situation now became a mess. If your company has an automatic system for tracking your time and paying on the basis of that you are guaranteed to wreck their administration. Don't ever do that again. – user8036 Nov 21 '16 at 15:45
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You can't force your manager to change her ways. However, you can plan to return the money if the request ever arises.

If I were you I would establish a paper trail of reminding and informing your manager of the facts (an e-mail every once in a while, for example), and put the extra money you receive in a savings account which you simply don't touch.

If the fecal matter ever hits the fan you'll have clear evidence that you reminded your manager of these discrepancies, and will be able to pay back the money right away. And as a bonus, you get to keep the interest which the money has accrued in that time.

As far as this being a tactic to guilt you into working more ... simply don't. This stuff only works if you let it. Don't work more than you should, and leave it at that. You don't owe her anything for making errors on your paycheck, especially with the cloud of having the company ask for their money back hanging over you.

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    As colmde commented, you should also take care of the taxes. Your income was probably taxed already. And you are going to have troubles to get it back. So while it isn't a bad idea not to spend that money, it does not guarantee that you can pay back the full amount your employer paid for it. – clem steredenn Nov 21 '16 at 14:33
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If you work a regular 40 hr week, that extra hour is effectively a 2.5% raise if it's paid in straight time, or a 3.75% raise if it's paid in overtime. Your boss may have a harder time justifying either amount as an increase to your base salary, so this is another approach.

Unfortunately, there's no paper trail that points to this secret agreement between the two of you. Your boss has already been in trouble. In an audit situation, if it comes down to the situation being your neck vs your boss' neck on the chopping block, whose do you think will be there? You have benefited from the situation, but ultimately it's not your money to keep because you didn't earn it. If you've been signing or endorsing a timesheet with the extra hour for each week, you've been committing fraud. If the manager has been doing this, you're an accessory. You might want to contact an attorney to figure out how to back yourself out of the situation but for now, if I were you I'd decline that extra hour going forward.

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    This person needs a lawyer ASAP. You are absolutely correct that this arrangement is fraud in many jurisdictions. – HLGEM Nov 21 '16 at 15:25
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    Agreed. I'm a little unclear if they are actually working a full 40 hours a week typically without the "extra" hour. The op says "A couple of years ago I renegotiated my working hours with her." To me that sounds like the OP isn't working a full 40 hours a week and that could make the extra hour even more important. If it makes the difference between Full and Part time on a typical week then that is a huge difference for a lot of things. The whole setup just sounds really fishy. – Evan Steinbrenner Nov 21 '16 at 20:38

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