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NewExpertAS4920
NewExpertAS4920, Solicitor
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 370
Experience:  -Experience in Litigation, Property, Family and Employment Law matters
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I am on a zero hours contract and was put on furlough in

Customer Question

Hi there,I am on a zero hours contract and was put on furlough in April 2020. Each member of my team received a letter explaining how our furlough payments were being calculated and confirming the amount to be paid weekly. Each member of the team received their specific amount of furlough each week, until at the start of April 2021, we were informed that the original calculation had been done incorrectly, by error of an employee, and that the company had overpaid most of us. They are now trying to reclaim the money they have lost based on the fact that they claim this is an overpayment of wages. I do not believe I have been overpaid, given that I was paid the amount that was proposed to me based on the company calculations which I signed an agreement to receive. I did not receive more than was agreed. Can you give any advice on whether this would actually count as an overpayment, and does my employer have a legal basis to be asking me to repay this money? I
JA: Have you discussed the zero hours contract issue with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: It is the senior management team that are working to have us repay the money, and our HR assistant only joined the company in October 2020 and has missed much of what happened when furlough started. I haven't had any conversations with a lawyer and have come to this website after it was recommended to me.
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am an employee on a permanent zero hour contract. I personally am not in a union but several members of my team are and have been in contact with BECTU, who are also handling the case.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: There were two occasions when furlough was extended and the company required all employees to agree to stay on the furlough scheme. Neither of these times did senior management check the rates of pay for staff members to ensure there were no issues. Other members of staff have email records of them asking about their pay because they felt they were being paid too much, and on every occasion senior management told them that their queries were unfounded because they had taken legal advice for the furlough scheme. They also changed our rate of furlough in April 2021 without giving us any advance warning and without having us agree to it. The terms for furlough pay was for each individual to receive their weekly average pay OR the pay from the corresponding week in 2019/2020 tax year, whichever was higher. They did not pay us in this way and when questioned about it in April 2021 they said it was because it was too much work for one staff member to handle. With the amended pay, this is however the way in which we are being paid moving forward.
Submitted: 8 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  NewExpertAS4920 replied 8 days ago.
Hi! I am a qualified solicitor in England and Wales. I will be assisting you with your query today. I may need to ask a few questions before I can address your query.Please bear in mind this is a chat service and there may be delays in responding due to assisting other customers.
Expert:  NewExpertAS4920 replied 8 days ago.
Thank you for your query.If the employer has made overpayment of your wages in error then they are usually allowed to deduct the relevant amount from your future payslips OR from any other monies owed by to company to you. There is likely to be a clause within your employment contract which allows them this right.
Expert:  NewExpertAS4920 replied 8 days ago.
If you do not think there has been any overpayment, you should ask your manager or HR to provide you with a breakdown of exactly what they have calculated to be owed before any deductions are made.I hope that answers your query today.
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Hi! Thanks for picking up my query - just to let you know I'm based in Scotland, in case there is any difference in legislation.
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Thank you for your response. I was more specifically hoping to clarify whether the company are justified in claiming that this situation constitutes an overpayment, since what was paid was exactly what each individual agreed to be paid. We have each had a breakdown of calculations showing the way in which they originally calculated the furlough pay, and a new breakdown showing what it in fact should have been. They are also proposing to recoup the money by taking a percentage off our payslips, over a proposed three year period. There is another issue with this in that many of the employees affected are on minimum wage. Again the main issue I have identified is that the company believe it is an overpayment and both myself and my team do not agree that we were paid more than we believed we should have been.
Expert:  NewExpertAS4920 replied 8 days ago.
Hi. I was unable that your query related to Scottish law. I can opt out should you wish. However I do not think there is a difference in law in relation to your query. The matter is straight forward. If you think you have rightly been paid then HR should provide you with their calculations on what basis they think an overpayment has been made. Once you've received their calculations you may or may not agree with them and you can then accordingly put your arguments forward.Have you received such calculations? If so, do you agree with them?
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
HR have provided me with calculations which show how the original figure was reached. The finance assistant used the number of weeks I had worked rather than the number of weeks I had been employed during the financial year 2019-20 to establish a weekly average pay. I understand why there is a difference, however I have been paid what the company stated that they would pay me. Also in their letter to me regarding furlough pay, they implied that the weekly average would be based on the number of weeks in the year, or the number we were employed if we began employment after April 2019, which is why I didn't question the total.
Expert:  NewExpertAS4920 replied 7 days ago.
The calculations should be based on the same month’s earning from a previous year, or your average monthly pay during the 2019-20 tax year - whichever is highest.
If your pay is not calculated as above, then they cannot argue overpayment.