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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50182
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I was overpaid by my employer their error after returning from

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I was overpaid by my employer their error after returning from maternity leave when my baby was 5 months old and being told that I could not return to my post that I left. now a year later they have decided that I was overpaid and now want to take back the overpayment at a rate of £150 per month. This will cause great hardship. what are my rights. thank you
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. have they told you the method of payment for this. and have they sent you a letter detailing this
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No I have not had the information in writing just been told via my former store Manager who is the only person supporting me and I am about to get paid and am afraid of meeting my outgoings if this reduction is made.


by the way what is the total amount I am likely to have to pay for this advice as I am seriously worried now about money.

Ok thank you leave it with me I need to look up a few things and then get my advice ready.I will post back on here when done there is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded.
The amount for the advice is the deposit you paid for at the outset, I don’t have access to your account to check details but appears to be around the £40 mark.

In terms of the overpayments and your legal position in that respect, if someone has genuinely been overpaid by their employer, then that is not money to which they are legally entitled and it should be repaid. The law allows an employer to deduct overpayments direct from an employee’s wages without their consent. That does not mean they can just go ahead and take as much as they want and they must still act fairly when deciding on the amount to be taken, ensuring that the employee is not placed in great financial hardship as a result, however as long as the amount is reasonable it can be taken.

In addition, an employee may be able to use the legal defence of ‘estoppel’ to resist an employer's recovery of an overpayment. One of the main cases dealing with this is that of County Council of Avon v Howlett. The employee was a teacher who was paid more sick pay than he was entitled to. The teacher queried the overpayments with the employer but was assured they were correct. By the time the Council had realised their mistake, the teacher had spent most of that money. The Court of Appeal held that the defence of estoppel prevented the employer from recovering the whole sum of the overpayment.

The way estoppel operates is that if the following conditions are satisfied, then an employee should be able to use it as a defence to resist the recovery of an earlier overpayment:
• 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
• 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 bills, everyday spending, etc – you must have gone out of your way and changed your position, such as making additional purchases which you would not have done had you not received that money.

So whilst there is nothing stopping an employer from deducting the amount owed or pursuing a claim to recover an overpayment, if the above conditions are satisfied then an employee could raise the defence of 'estoppel' and prevent the claim for proceeding any further.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. 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? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks