Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In today’s post we’re going to take a brief look at claims for overpayments of wages and how an employee can potentially seek to defend themselves against such a claim. We’ll do so by examining the following elements:

  1. When may your employer try to claim that you’ve been overpaid?
  2. How can you defend yourself against a claim for overpayment of wages?
  3. What should you do if you’re subject to a claim for overpayment of wages?

When may your employer try to claim that you’ve been overpaid?

Normally there’s an obvious answer to this question – your employer will try to claim that you’ve been overpaid if you have in fact been overpaid. Overpayments can happen for a variety of reasons but they’re normally attributable to administrative errors on the part of your employer. This leads to the employee being overpaid (potentially by thousands of pounds a month) and your employer – once the mistake has been discovered (which can often take a while) – will normally attempt to recover the whole or part of the overpayment. However, if there is potential litigation in the offing (say, for example, the employee is considering a claim for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal) then the employer may sometimes make allegations relating to overpayments in order to try to encourage the employee to settle their claim(s).

In order to show that you have been overpaid your employer should provide evidence. This evidence will normally come in the form of documentary evidence – payslips of what you’ve been paid in comparison with what they were contractually obliged to pay you. If there is a discrepancy between these two figures then your employer may have a credible claim for overpayment of wages.

How can you defend yourself against a claim for overpayment of wages?

There are three potential lines of defence to a claim for overpayment of wages:

  1. The “limitation” defence
  2. The “statutory” defence
  3. The “common law” defence

The “limitation” defence

A claim for overpayment of wages is a contractual claim. Claims in contract law must be made within six years of the alleged breach of contract occurring. If a claim is made more than six years after the relevant date then the claim would be “out of time” unless the Judge chose to exercise their discretion and extend the limitation date (this is normally done if it is just and equitable to do so).

The “statutory” defence

If the employee thinks that their employer has unfairly deducted sums from their wages then they can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal for recovery of these sums. However, there is a complete bar to bringing such proceedings if the reason for the deduction of the sums was a previous overpayment by the employer.

The “common law” defence

The common law defence is normally the strongest line of defence for an employee and is based on the law relating to restitution. A person can use this defence against the claim for overpayment of wages (generally) if they satisfy the following conditions:

  1. The person “changed their position” in response to the overpayment i.e. they changed the budgeting needs to account for the increased payments; and
  2. The person’s change of position was not due to their own mistake or misunderstanding; and
  3. The overpayment was not the fault of the person and that they reasonably brought it to the attention of their employer

What should you do if you’re subject to a claim for overpayment of wages?

If you’re subject to a claim for overpayment of wages then you should seek to obtain advice from employment law solicitors as soon as possible. Such claims can be financially burdensome and it’s important that you obtain the best advice possible.

Redmans Solicitors are employment solicitors and settlement agreement solicitors



Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees

Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk.

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk


4.52 Average

21 Reviews

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 2 weeks ago


Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 3 weeks ago


Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 3 weeks ago


At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 3 weeks ago


Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 1 month ago


Very efficient service. I never had to wIt for more than a day for a reply to any of my queries and the matter was dealt with swiftly.

Posted 1 month ago


Very timely, thorough and helpful advice. Friendly and considerate of the needs of the client

Posted 1 month ago


Very prompt and attention to detail. Thank you for the service

Posted 1 month ago


Couldn’t be happier with how Redmans successfully handled our seemingly tricky case. By being clear and detailed every step of the way, with the utmost professionalism and courtesy, they made it an informative and eye-opening process, taking the stress out of the situation and ultimately delivered what you would want from such a service. I fully appreciate everything they have done, and if I am ever in need of such services in the future, they will be the first number I contact. Excellent.

Posted 1 month ago


Excellent work delivered with great quality

Posted 1 month ago


Chris Hadrill was a great help both in terms of his advice and his expertise. He explained my options to me clearly and concisely enabling me to quickly make the right decision for me in the circumstance. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris or Redmans to friends or colleagues, and would certainly make Redmans my first port of call should I require a similar service in the future.

Posted 1 month ago


Redmans gave excellent advice and helped me understand everything in clear concepts. Thank you!

Posted 1 month ago


Resolved my issues

Posted 1 month ago


Quick fast professional service.

Posted 1 month ago


"Prompt, efficient and practical advice that resulted in me getting some additional money tax free."

Posted 1 month ago


Patient and thorough advice given to me around my Settlement Agreement

Posted 1 month ago


"Excellent service, getting back to you promptly giving you very good advice."

Posted 1 month ago


I found Chris Hadrill to be an excellent help, he is very knowledgeable and gives good ,concise ,strategic advice .He makes himself readily accessible when you need him.I would personally highly recommend him.

Posted 2 months ago


Professional, efficient and reliable service provided. I strongly recommend them and I would use this service again.

Posted 2 months ago