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Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Is there a clause in your contract that says they can do this?
I have a letter that says the company "may" take this money back if I leave within twelve months of receiving the bonus.
is that the only reference to this, nothing else in your contract about eligibility for bonus, clawback provisions, etc?
I have not seen my contract for a while and am in the process of trying to get it back. There is nothing about a clawback in my original contract.
Do I need to serve my notice period if this is how they want to treat me?
The employer's proposed actions would potentially amount to an unlawful deduction from wages, which is made illegal under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Under law, an employer can only make deductions from, or withhold an employee’s wages in the following circumstances:
This is not an overpayment, and they cannot really rely on a letter they have issued you with allowing potential claw back unless you had either signified your consent in writing or this was specifically allowed under your contract. If none of the above exemptions apply, the deductions will most likely be unlawful. In order to try and resolve this, the employer should be contacted in writing, advised that this is being treated as unlawful deduction of wages and ask them to pay back the money within 7 days. Advise them that if they fail to pay the money that is owed, legal proceedings could follow.
If the employer does not return the money as requested, the following options are available:
Hopefully by warning the employer you are aware of your rights and are not going to hesitate taking further action they will be prompted to reconsider their position and work towards resolving this.
If they are making an unlawful deduction then it could amount to breach of contract and you can treat yourself as having been constructively dismissed, which means you can leave with immediate effect and without having to serve your notice period.
Thanks Ben, as they are still in the process of determining how much they will take back over the 3 months, what should be my first action to take to them?
you may warn them that what they propose to do is most likely unlawful and that you request they do not do as proposed, otherwise you will have to take the matter further as soon as the first deduction is made
Ok, is there any benefit in me approaching a director who can assist and overthrow the decision, I have heard but can not be certain that this has happened in the past.
to be honest you have nothing to lose - the worst outcome is they still go ahead with the deductions
Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?