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Overpayment

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by Helssoph, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Helssoph

    Helssoph New commenter

    I am employed 4 days a week as a SENCO/Teacher in a children's centre.
    My contract has been 3 days/week and I was given an honorarium for an additional day, to take it up to 4 days a week. I have been in this position since May 2017.
    At the end of the summer term (July 18) is was told by our Head that I have been over paid since May 2018 due to a misunderstanding between HR Payroll and my previous Head, who set up the honorarium. What I have actually been paid has been 4 days a week, with an additional day's honorarium on top.
    It also transpired that my contract had changed, somewhere along the mix up, to 4 days a week, instead of 3. I was never consulted about this change as as far as I was aware, my contract was 3 days a week, with the honorarium for an additional day a week.
    I went from being employed through an agency to becoming a permanent member of staff and the salary was less so I assumed (wrongly) that the money I was getting into my bank account each month was as I would expect for 4 days / week.
    I have been told that this is my mistake for not checking my pay slips and that I need to pay it back within a 'reasonable time frame'.
    The figure is just shy of £9,000. The suggested amount I pay back is £300/month. Having my salary reduced by 20% and then having a further £300 deducted from my pay each month just isn't feasible and would leave me unable to pay my rent.
    I am not sure who to go to for advice with this.
    Please help!
     
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Please tell me you are still in a union - they are the people to advise you.

    The fact that the children's centre are talking about a "honorarium" at all tells me they understand b.ugger all about dealing with employment contracts. Honorarium has no legal/tax/employment law status at all and you aren't receiving one. You are simply receiving an increase in salary for increasing your hours. What should have happened is an increase in your contracted hours from 0.6 to 0.8, either permanently or for a fixed period, depending what both sides had in mind with pay increasing proportionately.

    And it should all have been with proper agreement of both sides and correctly documented.

    The bad news is, I'm afraid, that the general principle that has been decided in the courts over the years is that if you are overpaid you are not entitled to keep the money and must repay it. There are some exceptions where the employers conduct has been so unreasonable that it wouldn't be fair to expect you to repay it. But whether that might apply to your situation I couldn't say. So you need union advice, a specialist who can go though all your documents with you and advise you.
     
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Definitely union. If you do have to pay it back, they will probably also help negotiate a longer repayment period. Also make sure someone checks all the figures very carefully, as there will be all the complications of having paid tax on the extra income: you need to know you're only paying back what you actually received. You also need to check the effect on your pension, if you're in the pension scheme, especially if it put you in a different bracket for the contribution rate. I don't know how that all gets sorted out, but presumably the union will have some idea.
     
  4. Helssoph

    Helssoph New commenter

    Thank you so much. Really helpful. It's all a bit of a shambles and what they are calling a 'Small payroll misunderstanding' has huge implications for me and my living situation. Makes me want to turn my back on it all and run away from the profession that I have given so much to for the past 10 years.
     
  5. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    You need to get union involved right away. I’m assuming you signed a contract of employment and would have been aware of your annual salary? You say you didn’t check payslips but did you check your bank balance? I’m assuming you would have and you would have noticed how much you would have been paid which then, why did you not investigate it then?
    You will be required to pay this money back because you have been overpaid in error for work that you have not completed. A repayment plan per month is the way to go- you could ask for a lower payment per month, but, paying back £300 until you’ve paid back the £9,000 will take 2.5 years as it is.
     
  6. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Union first. Definitely.

    I'm not an expert here, but if you rent (don't own property), and don't have savings, I wonder if one way out of this would be to threaten to seek an IVA ('Involuntary Voluntary Arrangement') as an alternative to bankruptcy...It might make your employer offer a more acceptable (to you) repayment plan... Just a thought. But seek expert advice BEFORE seeking one, of course.
     
  7. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    As has been pointed out, you probably are obliged to pay this money back. The school is certainly entitled to pay you the correct salary from now on. I suggest that you make a proposal to the school of what you can afford. If you can't agree, then perhaps your union will be able to help.

    It does sound to me that you are saying that the 20% cut in salary is your main problem, but surely it is only reverting to the pay you would have expected when you accepted the job. You did receive quite a lot more than you should have been expecting. If you knew your full time equivalent salary, it would not have been hard to work out what your monthly gross pay should be.
     

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