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If your employer is stating that you’ve been overpaid wages and is trying to recover these from you then you have a number of options open to you to defend such an action. In this post we’ll take a look at the following issues:

  1. The definition of wages
  2. When is an employee overpaid?
  3. When can your employer try and recover overpayments?
  4. What options are open to employees if their employer tries to recover overpayments?

The definition of wages

The definition of wages is a wide one. It includes any sums payable to the worker by their employer in connection with their employment, including salary, bonus, commission, company car (if for business use), living allowance, and so on. What the extent and value of wages are in any instance is particular to the facts of the situation.

When is an employee overpaid?

Overpayments normally occur because of an administrative mistake on the behalf of the employer. The employee is either paid a one-off payment which is in excess of the sum that they should have received under their contract of employment or they receive multiple (possibly regular) payments which are in excess of the sums that they should have received. Again, whether an employee has been overpaid and the extent of the overpayment is particular to the facts of the individual situation.

When can an employer try and recover overpayments?

An employer can try and recover sums from an employee if there has in fact been an overpayment. Whether an overpayment has occurred is a situation which is often in dispute and is something that employees can seek to contest. Should there be a genuine dispute about whether an overpayment of wages has occurred then the employee is entitled to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal under UK employment law. Should there not be a dispute about whether an overpayment of wages has occurred then the employee is not entitled to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal but may submit take their complaint to the County Court (or High Court, depending upon the value of the overpayment and the complexity of the matter).

What options are open to employees if their employer tries to recover overpayments?

An employee has a number of options open to defend an action for repayment of wages by their employer. They may assert that there has not in fact been an overpayment. However, it is often clear on the facts whether there has been an overpayment and employers are normally not keen to demoralise employees by pursuing actions for overpayment if there has not in fact been an overpayment!

There are three main “defences” open to employees if their employer is claiming that there has been an overpayment of wages:

  1. A statutory defence under the Employment Rights Act 1996
  2. A common law defence under the law of restitution
  3. A defence based upon the Limitation Act 1980

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

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Clear, prompt, effective support from Chris which has been very much appreciated. Thank you again.

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The team were very helpful and answered all my questions regarding my redundancy. Initially I had a call with one of the representatives who escalated my request to a suitable employment solicitor. We arranged a call to discuss the settlement and she helped answer all my questions. We then mainly contacted through email which helped resolve the settlement quickly and convently. Thanks for all the help.

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You have good communication.

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Fast and professional. A highly recommended company for employment related issues.

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Very professional service.

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I was very grateful for Redmans to treat my case with respect and discretion. At the time, I was very new to London and it was meaningful to have someone on my side and win the case for me. Without any doubt, I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to anyone who is in need of it.

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Jake L

Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

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Anonymous

Excellent service. It was a pleasure to work with Chris H, who is brilliant at what he does and very efficient. Their Senior Associate Rana T. is also very knowledgeable and resolves any queries speedily and efficiently. My issue could unfortunately not be resolved, but that was due to my employer and not the firm. Redmans however did all they could. I would definitely recommend them.

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Anonymous

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I am very lucky that I worked with Mr. Chris Hadrill and he managed my case very progressively with an analytical approach and trustfully. Of course with a very positive result. I strongly recommend Mr. Hadrill to any one seeking for a successful result from a highly qualified solicitor.

Posted 11 months ago

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Amazing, quick friendly service from Chris from the start and Caroline. They made me feel at ease during a difficult time, they understood and advised accordingly and I am really happy with the outcome of my case. Will always advise anyone who needs legal advice to contact Redmans, I’m so glad that I did and can confidently say I don’t think any other firm could have handled my case any better. Well done guys, wish you all the best and please keep doing what your doing, simply the best!

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Excellent service - rapid and “to the point” advice given to ensure meeting the target time frame

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Chris Hadrill kept me sane during the negotiations with my employer. He was courteous professional and he cared about doing the best he could for me. I will use Redmans again if ever I need an employment solicitor. Excellent service.

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Awesome services. Professionals at their best .

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Anonymous

Thanks for the advice and for negotiating a good outcome. Good to have the support at a very stressful time

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My solicitor at Redmans was very helpful and efficient. Really pleased with the smooth service.

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