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Thread: Overpayment of Wages

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  1. #1
    purpleozzie's Avatar

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    Default Overpayment of Wages

    Hi Guys,

    Last working day of April I was overpaid by £8,000. My bank does a thing caled a sweep where on pay day it will sweep money out of my current account into my savings always leaving me with £2000 to live on for the month.. Because of this the excess got swept into my savings and I didn't notice the overpayment..

    I have not had reason to check my savings since so hadn't noticed until last Thursday when my boss called me and basically accused me of trying to steal the money.. He said we needed to sort it out so told me to meet him in our head office (about 200 miles away) at 3pm on the Friday.

    When I arrived my boss and the Financial director got me to tell them the whole story all the time acting accusatory towards me.. I said that I'd checked my savings after the phone call on Thursday and all I needed was a nett amount to pay them back and I'd do it by Monday..

    They were happy with this but my boss then said that under the terms of my employment contract he could discipline me.. I asked what a disciplinary would consist of and would I lose my job and he said I can't make that decision right now, pay the money back and we'll talk again next week..

    So, what I wanted to know is where do I stand legally, can he fire me over this? If he does say that he's going down the disciplinary route should I threaten with Employment Tribunals.. I really can't afford to lose my job over this.. It all felt as if I was getting the blame even though it was their cock-up...

  2. #2
    leclerc's Avatar

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    Default Re: Overpayment of Wages

    Well, you stand pretty well to be honest because you did not spend the money is one thing.
    Did you receive a payslip and did you look at it and was the amount what you expected it to be? Furthermore, are there any tax liabilities for you ie child tax credits, normal paid tax etc etc.
    The over payment and repayment might not just affect the company, it might affect you.

    Also, why did they not notice this earlier? How did they find out if you did not know? Why were you accused of theft when you did not key in the payroll?
    "Family means that no one gets forgotten or left behind"
    (quote from David Ogden Stiers)

  3. #3
    Ula's Avatar

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    Default Re: Overpayment of Wages

    The first thing you need to do as @leclerc has said is check your payslip for April and see whether the overpayment has been detailed.

    I am having trouble with this being a disciplinary matter unless they think you were dishonest in some way The company in such an instance would have to show that you acted dishonestly in some way by proving that either a) you knew of the overpayment or b) you should reasonably have known. Just a question though do you not get bank statements or check your account on-line which would have flagged a greater than normal salary payment and a sum going into your savings account? In which case did you not think to raise this with your company?

    If this is a payroll/HR dept error you cannot be held responsible for the negligence of another employee. It would also be a point of clarification as to what specifically in the terms of your employment contract that your boss could instigated disciplinary proceedings, I am guessing it maybe covered under a "dishonesty/fraud" instance but they would need to prove that as stated above. You still have the money in your account plus if need be you could get evidence from your bank of the fact that any excess gets swept into your savings.

    They do have the right to ask for the overpayment to be returned and in any meeting I would arrange to transfer the money back to your employer as soon as possible, although you may need to be mindful any tax implications which may need to be worked through.
    I do my best to provide good practical advice, however I do so without liability.
    If you have any doubts then do please seek professional legal advice.


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  4. #4
    mariefab's Avatar

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    Default Re: Overpayment of Wages

    If they were to start any disciplinary procedure on this matter the first thing I'd do is turn the table back to them.

    1. The Employment Rights Act 1996 s.8 imposes a duty on a employer to provide a payslip. However there is no corresponding requirement that the employee reads it at all.
    So, I'd be asking for a copy of any Company contractual documents that requires their employees to check each of their payslips to make sure that the employer hasn't made a mistake.

    2. How you operate your bank account should be none of your employer's business.
    So, I'd ask for the contractual documents that require employees to constantly check their accounts in order to alert themselves to any possible overpayment. Or any documents limiting the employees ability to automatically transfer funds from their personal bank accounts.

    3. I'd also ask for a complete documented account of exactly how this overpayment happened including evidence of any ongoing investigation.
    As they are unreasonably shifting quite a bit of the responsibility for the overpayment to you; you need to be reassured that they are not going to accuse you next of somehow causing the overpayment to be made in the first place.

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