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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49843
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have left a job in May after my 2 weeks booked holiday.

Customer Question

Hi I have left a job in May after my 2 weeks booked holiday. However they paid me in June and I thought it was part of my holiday pay. However I have now recieved a letter stating that I have been overpaid and that I now owe them £571.28. Will I still need to pay this back as it was not my fault that I was overpaid.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

What reason have the provided for the overpayment?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, I will forward you with the information they have sent me
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
here they are
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. Thank you for the attachments. Please leave it with me. I am in court today for the rest of today so will prepare my advice in a while and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

No problem at all

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Many thanks for your patience. 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.

However, 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 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. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi thank you for your advice. The overpayment was definitely the employers error as they have stated and I genuinely thought that it was correct pay. What is the chance of me not having to repay the overpayment please as I have left the job in May 24th and I only recieved the letter on the 22nd of September
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also is estoppel a free service?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Estoppel is not a service, it is a legal argument. So basically what has to happen is the employer makes a claim against you to recover the money and as a defence in court you use the principle of estoppel, then if the court agrees that estoppel applies they can prevent the employer from going any further with their claim. So it all depends on whether they actually take this to court and if you can satisfy the requirements to raise estoppel as a defence.

If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you