Work Chasing Me for "Overpayment" after I Quit

I got forwarded this email to my former manager and myself today. I had 4 days of annual leave balance when I left, I did not consider chasing them up for it till now but now my old company is chasing me up for 'overpayment'. I thought it was up to the responsibility of the company to make sure I am being paid correctly. What responsibility if any do I have to pay this back and can they send debt collectors after me? Should I bring up my 4 days of Annual leave balance which equates to equates to a bit over $1000.

This is to keep you inform that your direct team member Levity was being overpaid in October 2021 salary payment.

There was being overpayment to Levity due to “Delay in termination update in workday after main cycle payroll cut-off”.

The net overpayment amount was a bit over $1,000.

Appreciate your further advise whether the repayment will be made by the employee.

If no payment is required for any reason, please provide the justification and the approval e-mail from the "long list of upper management".

If the repayment is required, please advise the employee to repay the above amount to XXXX Account as per below and confirm us the date of repayment:

Poll Options

  • 240
    You have to pay it back
  • 96
    You don't have to pay it back

Comments

  • +9

    yes you have to pay it back.

    • What if my one week of unpaid annual leave equates to about the same amount?

      Edited

      • +167

        well then speak to them about your unpaid annual leave.

        • +21

          This is too logical. OP needs to take it to the courts and conduct communications via solicitor.

      • keep us updated in op for outcome

      • +4

        Until you tell them this, they will continue down their current path.

        So do not ignore this as they will send in the debt collectors. Once at the debt collectors there is no longer any room for negotiation, just payment in full and depending on the nastiness of the collection company, not in installments either. So right now is your only chance to negotiate a better outcome.

        I would start by proposing in writing a tradeoff between 'what they say you owe them $X' and 'what you say they owe you $Y' based on your unpaid leave comment. Put these facts in writing, propose a solution (e.g. that one roughly negates the other) so lets close this out without further action or payment due to the 'negligible amount involved'. If they write back saying you still owe them, you still have various options such as exploring your FairWork options first. If that does not bear fruit then propose a $5 a week payment plan. The overall trick here is to make yourself look fair and reasonable while making your ex-employer look incompetent and money grabbing to FairWork, especially if they go straight to the debt collector option.

        And do all of this in writing ASAP because verbal agreements will mean nothing to either a bikie debt collector or FairWork.

    • +12

      yes you have to pay it back.

      What use is a response like this with absolutely zero reasoning provided?

      • +13

        What reasoning do you need? It's accounting 101.

        If you accidently pay someone more than you should, they do not get to keep your money. You have legal standing to demand the difference back. Whether you proceed with uncooperative party legally, it's up to you. Usually, for small amounts, it's not worth it and you can keep them forever on your books as your debtor. Maybe one day they will go bankrupt and you can claim this from them as a creditor. It doesn't have to be forgiven ever.

        • +27

          What reasoning do you need? It's accounting 101.

          Any reasoning at all is better than none. Most people haven't studied accounting.

          An assertion from a stranger on the internet with no reasoning provided shouldn't have much value; that's my point.

          • +5

            @Scrooge McDuck:

            An assertion from a stranger on the internet with no reasoning provided shouldn't have much value

            Ftfy

        • +2

          You can bet if OP was underpaid the business would do everything in it's power to not rectify that situation.

        • Payment default lasts for 5 years. I doubt any legally enforceable debt claim for a grand or so can last much longer than that.

      • +2

        What reasoning is required? You do not have a right to keep money that was incorrectly paid to you and they absolutely have a legal right to demand back money you were not entitled to. Just like if he is owed leave he is absolutely entitled to demand he is correctly paid out for that as well.

      • -1

        You literally did the same thing the comment before this one.

        https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/658456#comment-11229661

        • In that context the original comment didn't contain any reasoning either and the issue is somewhat subjective. It's sensible to match the depth and length of a response to its pair.

          The issue here is a lot more objective so a stranger's unreasoned opinion is a lot less valuable.

          I'm sure in my 10,000+ comments I've posted some low value responses for one reason or another but my point still stands.

  • +2

    Overpayments can happen when an employer mistakenly believes an employee is entitled to the pay or because of a payroll error.

    Employers can’t take money out of an employee’s pay to fix up a mistake or overpayment. Instead, the employer and employee should discuss and agree on a repayment arrangement. If the employee agrees to repay the money, a written agreement has to be made and has to set out:

    the reason for the overpayment
    the amount of money overpaid
    the way repayments will be made (for example cash, cheque or electronic transfer) and how often (this has to be reasonable).
    If the repayment can’t be agreed an employer should get legal advice.
    https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay-and-wages/deducting-pay-and-...

    • +9

      As you've already spent the money, can you set up some kind of payment plan at, say, $20/week, starting from when your bennies from Cennie kick in.

      • -5

        By doing that you are acknowledging the debt.

        • +2

          whether you acknowledge the debt or not is irrelevant in this situation. It was an overpayment, it doesn't require your acknowledgement to be owed or actionable.

          • +7

            @gromit: No no no! At present the company believes there is an overpayment - they haven't proven that to anyone else.

            Until that debt is proven, the last thing you do is acknowledge a debt you disagree with.

            • @factor: of course you demand proof before you pay anything. But this is not a situation that requires your acknowledgement one way or the other, it only requires them having correct proof, which absolutely should be demanded.

          • @gromit: Possession is nine tenths of the law. Are they going to hire a lawyer for $1200?

            • -2

              @CommuterPolluter: " Possession is nine tenths of the law" complete and utter myth.

              I think the better question is do they have legal representation on staff? where I work the cost would be nothing as having lawyers on staff is part of the business (many companies that deal with a lot of large dollar contracts will have access to legal with no additional cost). If not then yeah they probably aren't going to chase you over $1200, just hope they never need a reference or anything though.

              • @gromit: Must be a really happening business if the lawyers are chasing up $1200 overpayments.

                • +1

                  @CommuterPolluter: doesn't take much effort if the lawyer is on staff. a letter and form filled in and filed with courts. 5 or 10 mins of effort.

                  • @gromit: Even if the lawyer is free the court filing fees are around $800.

            • +1

              @CommuterPolluter: Wow, with logic like that you'd have embezzlers, fraudsters and even shoplifters lining up around the block to hire you as their lawyer.

        • Yes, because there is a debt, so it should be acknowledged

  • +31

    Small company or big company? You should ask them to pay you your unpaid leave, don't mention the overpayment (neither agree nor disagree).

    Will get them to either shut up or pay you ~$24

    Also validate whether they actually overpaid you or not.

    • +25

      This. Ask them to prove the overpayment with actual calculations showing hrs etc.

      They definitely must pay any unpaid annual leave.

      • I've asked them for this info as well, I had thought the monthly cycle meant we got paid after a month of work for a month's work.

        • +36

          Usually if you are on a monthly cycle; the pay is for fortnight already worked and fortnight still to work.

        • +2

          Monthly cycles are typically paid half for work completed and half for future work.

        • -2

          Clearly you don't understand how pay cycles work.

        • +1

          If you are on a monthly cycle, its 2 weeks in arrears and 2 weeks in advanced. No one is paid a month in arrears, that's too much.

  • +36

    Ask them about the leave. Just thank them for the information re: overpayment, and say it reminded you that you have 4 days annual leave accrued and not sure how this fits into the equation.

    • +4

      Thanks for this I've sent the email now

  • +10

    I had 4 days of annual leave balance when I left, I do not expect to see any money from that

    www.fairwork.gov.au - What entitlements should be paid on termination?

    When an employment relationship ends, employees should receive the following entitlements in their final pay:

    *any outstanding wages or other remuneration still owing
    *any pay in lieu of notice of termination
    *any accrued annual leave and long service leave entitlements
    *the balance of any time off instead of overtime that the employee has accrued but not yet taken
    *any redundancy pay or entitlements if the employees has been made redundant and is eligible.

    • +5

      Yeah I meant that I wasn't going to chase them up on it till they mentioned the overpayment

  • +19

    Appreciate your further advise

    Don't get me friggin' started

    • +2

      Bad grammar?

    • +30

      This, holy crap, that entire email. I would just assume it was a scammer.

    • +1

      It was having the same "affect" on me too.

    • Yep, reads like they outsourced it to their Nigerian affiliate. I'd correct all the mistakes and send it back with an invoice of $1288.46 for proofreading.

  • +1

    haha workday.

    How does the company intend "the employee" to pay them back?

    Not your fault that the employer didn't submit the paperwork in time. Surprised they contacted you at your personal email address.

    • +5

      They give you a BSB & Account number. Pretty simple when you think about it.

    • +1

      I was going to say the same word, "Workday!" Lol.

  • +5

    Did the company do a final payment statement? They should've calculated your annual leave payout and deducted it from the amount overpaid. This is how you figure out if you have any monies owing or owed.

    If they didn't then it's poor process on their end.

    • +5

      They just sent me an email demanding money LOL. Would have been nice to get that statement.

      • +6

        Sounds scammy to me…

      • Off topic - I think they used to send that before single touch payroll got introduced, you needed it for tax purposes. But under STP, your details get sent straight to ATO, so they don't need to send you the final one, but you can still ask for it.

        Back on topic, I get that you left the company now, but at all companies you should be able to see what you got paid for - either you email the accountant/payroll person (small company) or there is a system you login with an email to see your payslip and timesheets (larger companies, but you won't be able to login after you leave). I would email them now and say you want to see the breakup of that balance since you want to understand this overpayment (and you at least find out if they did miss your annual leave)

        Your payslip for example may say what week/month of (date) that tells you what you got paid for (ordinary hours or leave), and in your termination should include your annual leave payout.

        If you see that it shows for example full month salary for October…you would know it's wrong because you left during the month.

        Please ask for your last payslip. And also familiarise yourself with accessing it at your new workplace.

    • +4

      Sounds like the manager didn’t terminate them in the system, OP got overpaid, now they’re processing it they’re trying to recover the funds as the manager has finally out the termination date in the system.

      Happens all the time at big companies, it relies on the manager doing their job and putting in the end date. Especially if it’s not an end of contract and they waived OPs notice period. As employees get paid 2 weeks ahead the date had to be put in prior to their last day.

      Might well be the money owed is less the 4 days annual leave already.

    • No they shouldn't. There are many rules against that.

  • +9

    I had the exact same thing happen, ignored their correspondence and nothing ever happened. This was one of the largest corporations in Oz. YMMV

    • -2

      so basically you stole money?

  • +1

    The people I know who get paid monthly are often paid two weeks behind and two weeks ahead. Eg if they get paid 15th that will be work from 1st - 30th.
    To me it would appear that your last pay included days after you stopped working, possibly up to two weeks. They have then deducted the four days annual leave to get the figure you now owe.
    I think you owe the money.

  • +16

    Why on earth would you just let them have 4 days holiday pay, and not make them pay you out?

    • +3

      Because he knew they overpaid and didn't want anyone to scrutinize the numbers.

      • +3

        Think this is exactly it.

  • +1

    Is the value of the 4 days of annual leave counted as post-tax? If not, it won't cancel out and you'll still owe a portion back.

  • I meant to click the 2nd one but he doesnt let me change….

    I'd be like gtfo but thats just me

    If you were still working there then you probably have to pay it back

  • Wow you got terminated?

    Company should just admit they didn’t get their paperwork in order on time, as competent highly paid highly skilled managers should have done.

    Pay the money back only if it means your manager will cop a nice punishment like a good capitalist drone does.

    • +1

      I found a better paying job so gave my notice. They let me leave before serving out my 5 weeks notice I will check if they are still paying out annual leave.

      • +4

        This kind of pisses me off. Why da fk would you let them keep 4 days of your annual leave? Do you not value your effort / money? Grow a pair and demand your money.

  • +1

    What responsibility if any do I have to pay this back and can they send debt collectors after me?

    You have a legal responsibility to pay the money back. Whenever (for whatever reason) one party pays another party in error, responsibility rests with the receiving party to pay it back. In other words, "too bad that you paid me, but hey that's your problem and now I'm keeping it" won't cut it.

    Can they send debt collectors? Yes, absolutely.

    Will they send debt collectors? Maybe. Ultimately just depends on whether the relevant people want to make an issue of it, of whether it's just not worth their time to chase it up.

    Should I bring up my 4 days of Annual leave balance which equates to equates to $1,288.46??

    Of course, you should understand that all these matters are correctly accounted for before agreeing to any "settlement figure".

  • +2

    Lmao. Bloody rare for a employer to 'overpay' a employee. I'd ignore it if you already have a guaranteed reference. Not that anyone actually checks them!

    • +6

      I reckon it happens all the time. My company employs 40,000+ people globally and my uni graduates have been overpaid 3 times in the last 12 months.

      First time they sent a letter to them asking for repayments which the grads dictate payment terms of. I told the accounts team to sort their shit out because next time they do this I'm going to crack it at their boss for sending essentially debt notices to employees for their own screw ups.

      Second time they did it they just sent a letter to those who got overpaid saying they've been overpaid but the company won't be seeking to recover the money.

      Third time they didn't even acknowledge it, but that was a while ago so I think they've sorted it out finally.

      So yeah, some of the boys are up $3k YTD.

      • Why not just notify them that they're going to be paid less next pay cycle? It's lawful I believe.

        • +2

          just because it's lawful doesn't mean it's a good thing to do.

          I see it as severely demoralising to someone's psyche if they see their monthly paycheck get docked for what is out of their control, regardless of how the math actually adds up. My people bust their balls hitting KPIs and objectives already, they don't need the added stress seeing their monthly check docked but totals out the same from overpayment.

          Told the accountants to assess whether they want to recover a few grand here and there from my team at the risk of my team missing contractual deadlines and costing us 250k+ because they're not doing their best work from being harassed by accountants. Accountants basically returned with: "we'll sort it out, have a nice day."

          My team was happy with the "bonus", worked even harder, client was impressed and handed us an even bigger contract we didn't have to tender for, head office was pleased no manhours got sunk into re-tendering. Wins all round.

          • +1

            @aearioweu: It's hardly being docked pay when you've been paid in advance. Also, demoralising? Turn it up.

            • +1

              @Mechz: Meh, I've provided my reasoning. No idea what you're trying to say to turn it up.

        • An employer can't just notify them that money will be deducted from their pay. They need written authorisation, otherwise they are breaking the law and risking a huge fine.

  • +1

    Sounds scammy. Check all your payslip etc to ensure they were paying you properly before you pay them back.

  • +4

    If they genuinely overpaid you, then there's no reason why you shouldn't pay them back.

  • +9

    You definitely owe them the overpayment. They definitely owe you the annual leave payout.

  • +1

    What responsibility if any do I have to pay this back and can they send debt collectors after me?

    HA. Join the Military (Or similar Government Org who are paid allowances)… I've had an official debt collection notice for an amount less than $2. You can bet your sweet ass the person who wrote that one up was facepalming hard, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

    Yes your employer should pay you correctly in the first instance, but you have a responsibility to pay it back. I am looking forward to your next post about a bank error in your favour and spending $200, before the bank comes back and says "replace the money".

    • +4

      I am looking forward to your next post about a bank error in your favour and spending $200

      I got one of these from the community chest once! Used it to buy a house.

  • +2

    Your 4 days annual leave balance (which they should have paid you but you said they didn't) equates to $1,288.46 and they're claiming to have overpaid you $1264.32. The two should cancel each other out (and they would still owe you $24.14). Tell them to deduct it from your annual leave hours. Simple!

    • Is the annual leave pay out gross or net?

    • +4

      That is of course on the bold assumption that they haven't already taken the annual leave balance into account. Really what he needs is a detailed statement for his final payout of what was included before he makes any such request as he may get a nasty surprise of "4 days leave? oh wow we paid you for 5 days, thanks for the correction we will update the amount you owe us for the extra day"

  • +3

    Firstly, I would check your final payslip and make sure that they have not paid out your 4 days of annual leave as depending on the payroll system, it is often it is referred to something that you may not think it is leave.

    Then I would just call and ask the payroll team what the overpayment is about.

    If it is a true overpayment and the 4 days of annual leave has truly not been paid, remind them that you are owed the 4 days and ask them to offset the leave against the debt and pay you the balance.

    It might be that they are holding the annual leave due to the money owed and need your agreement to offset it.

  • +2

    Keep us posted op. I'm interested to see how this one plays out

  • It's likely in your employment contract that the company holds the rights to retrieve any overpayments.

    I've never been in a position where I would forego 4 days of annual leave. Speculation here, but maybe you didn't want to chase it as you thought they'd paid you correctly.

    I'd be asking for an audit on your outgoing payments, including all your entitlements that were due to be paid out. Never just accept what they say, they should be proving how they came to this value.

    I'm currently reviewing all the fair work stuff, as I'm leaving my job and want to make sure that my LSL and AL will be paid out.

  • +2

    Hi, I used to look after payroll and understand that this can happen. Some companies have payroll cycle that pays people in advance and in arrear. For example, monthly payroll on the 15th each month for the period of 1st to end of that month even though employee has not worked until the end of month.

    It happened to me before as well where we paid an employee salary and he got terminated a week after (on 6 months probationary). But usually we can recoup the money from their annual leave balance and send them the final payslip by the next day of their last day. Or if they do not have any annual leave left, it will be up to management’s discretion to pursue the money or take up the loss.

    I’d suggest to reply back to payroll in professional manner as this might affect your future references with the reporting manager. Ask them for clarification why you owe them money and if you have annual leave balance left that they should have paid out.

    • +1

      Hate monthly cycles/payments, fortnightly should be the absolute maximum.

  • tell them to take you to court, it'll cost them a lot more than $1264 on their behalf

    • tell them to take you to court

      Sure, and then have a criminal record when you lose…

      • criminal record of what??

      • a criminal what, for what?

        you go to court, plead your case, be honest and humble, you get a slap on the wrist.

        • +2

          a criminal what, for what?

          fraud

          anyone who received a payment by mistake was legally obligated to give the money back and could be charged with fraud if they spent it.

          https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/finders-arent-keepers/ne...

          • @jv: That only applies to receiving money from an unknown source and then spending it knowing it did not belong you. In this case the OP spent money given to them by their employer that any reasonable person would assume was rightfully theirs.

            If they do take it to court, and are ordered to pay it back, then refuse, that could be an issue. It's probably too small an amount to bother going through legal proceedings though. Regardless, it's not a criminal matter.

            • +1

              @Skylex:

              That only applies to receiving money from an unknown source and then spending it knowing it did not belong you.

              It applies to money that is not yours.

              eg, if you deposit over the counter and the clerk adds an extra zero… it is an error and not your money, but the source is known…

              • +1

                @jv: When it comes to final payments from a job, the exact amount is not known. Your example is not equivalent. As I said, any reasonable person would consider the money rightfully theirs at the time of receiving it.

                It would also only apply to large amounts that couldn't be paid back. It's not a criminal matter, and the amount is far too small to bother pursuing civilly.

                • @Skylex:

                  It's not a criminal matter

                  It is if you spend it and don't return it.

                  • @jv: Having spent it would be quite reasonable. As for not returning it, it would first need to be established that it needs to be returned. Since there is also the question of the unpaid annual leave, the exact amount owed to either party has not been established. This would need to be done in a civil court, but the amount is too small to bother with.

                    Like I said in the first post, once it had been established that it is owed, and it had been ordered to be returned, then there could be issues, but none of them are criminal. It's not a criminal matter.

                    My last post to you, since you seem to be some kind of intentional troll/moron.

  • +6

    What responsibility if any do I have to pay this back

    It's fraud if you don't.

    Same as if a bank makes a mistake in your account… It's happened many times.

    • +1

      That's not how it works, is it fraud if the company under pays you? No. This is only a small amount of money, just counter claim that they have not overpaid you and let the court sort it out if they want to take it that far. Or deal with the debt collector. Anyone can send a demanding letter, it's wether they back up with action determine what happens next.

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