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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 73475
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I'm currently on leave and have been since 10th March due to

Customer Question

Hi, I'm currently on leave and have been since 10th March due to anxiety and am receiving SSP. Earlier this month, work (HR) called me and told me that they overpaid me in last month's paycheck (March) and came up with a figure of over £900 and that I need to pay them back. I am not in a strong financial situation of any kind and needless to say this set me back with my anxiety tenfold as any repayment would leave me without any income for this month. Work have since called me today and told me that payroll need to double check these figures and will get back to me after I asked if a payment plan could be set up. At the same time, I have checked my online payslip and any SSP i was wo be paid is being taken off by an equal amount lump sum which they are saying is 'Unpaid' leave. What can I do?
Submitted: 14 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 14 days ago.
Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 14 days ago.

Can I just check if you agree with the overpayment figure?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I have found out through HR that payroll need to look over the figures again before giving an actual figure because of the new tax year or something. The thing is, they have already uploaded my payslip electronically and are literally going to pay me £0 tomorrow on payday. I called HR and asked if we could set up a payment plan with regards ***** ***** figure but i had no straight answer.
With regards ***** ***** figure amount, theyre claiming that my condition wouldnt be classed as a short term disability so the first two weeks off wouldnt be paid at 100% like it says in my contract
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 14 days ago.

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 14 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

If someone has genuinely been overpaid by their employer, they will likely be responsible for repaying some, or all, of that money. The employer can rely on the common law remedy of restitution to recover the overpayment. That attempts to prevent the unjust enrichment of the employee at the expense of the employer.

From a legal perspective, an employer has the option to deduct any previous overpayments from the employee’s current wages. This is a right that they have under Section 14(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/18/section/14

This basically means that they can withhold money from any future wages they pay the employee until the amount that is owed has been repaid.

However, this is not an unconditional right and the employer is still expected to act in a fair and reasonable manner; something they are required to do under the implied contractual term of mutual trust and confidence. What this means is that whilst they can make the deductions to start with, they need to be conscious that this will reduce the employee’s wages and they should proceed in a fair way. That would involve discussions with the employee over the proposed deductions and agreeing on an amount that the employee is reasonably able to pay, taking into consideration their outgoings.

If the employer was to proceed with the deductions without checking what effect they may have on the employee, and they end up missing direct debits, bills, etc, that could amount to a breach of trust and confidence by the employer and potentially allow the employee to consider challenging them, including seeking compensation for any charges or penalties incurred as a result.

If that happens, then in the first instance, this should be pursued through a formal internal grievance, before any further action is taken. If the deductions have not been made yet, it is important to discuss with the employer a way forward and what repayment amount/interval should be applied.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 14 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.