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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 55285
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My previous employer kept making payments to my account

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Hello, my previous employer kept making payments to my account after I’d left the company. They have just realised and I received a text from my previous manager to say that the finance department are sending me a letter for the money to be returned. However, I do not have the money anymore as I didn’t realise that they were still paying me by accident. Would you be able to tell me what my options are??

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

How long did you work for the company?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
For about 10 months

OK thank you for your response. Leave it with me for now and I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you

Many thanks for your patience. If someone has genuinely been overpaid at work, the employer may rely on the common law remedy of restitution based on a mistake of law or fact to recover the overpayment in the civil courts. Restitution attempts to prevent the unjust enrichment of the worker at the expense of the employer.

If a claim for recovery is made by the employer, the employee may be able to use the legal defence of ‘estoppel’ to resist it. The case of County Council of Avon v Howlett dealt with this issue and identified three conditions that must be met for estoppel to succeed:

· The overpayments were made due to an error by the employer

· The employee genuinely believed they were entitled to the money, or did not even realise that they were being overpaid. It would not include turning a blind eye when they knew they were being overpaid

· The employee has since 'changed their position', meaning they have spent the money in question. However, this does not mean just spending it on usual items of expenditure, such as rent, mortgage, bills, everyday spending, etc – there must have been a significant, precise or substantial change of position.

So whilst there is nothing stopping an employer from pursuing a claim to recover an overpayment, if the above conditions are satisfied then an employee could raise the defence of 'estoppel' in court and potentially resist the employer’s claim.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks for your response Ben, what about if giving the money back means i will face financial difficulties. What are my options on paying it back via instalments, would I have to comply to a minimum amount per month or can I make on offer based on my current income and how much I am able to afford?

Facing financial difficulties is not in itself a reason for not giving it back, unfortunately, but it can potentially affect the amount you pay back every time. So it could mean making a periodic repayment of a specific amount a month, which takes into account your income and outgoings, so that you still repay the amount you were overpaid by, but not in one lump sum and by making payments you can afford. Hope this clarifies?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I meant the amount that I would have to pay back periodically. This is very helpful, thank you Ben.

you are most welcome

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