Employer keeps overpaying me. What can I do?

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etherealinsanity
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Hello,

I'm having a few issues with a Civil Service department repeatedly overpaying me and would appreciate any advice!

I graduated from university earlier this year and began a 6 week internship with a Civil Service department in London. While I was there, my contract was extended by a further 2 weeks so that I eventually left on 20th September. Since leaving, the department has continued to pay me for the months of October and November, and I strongly suspect that I will be paid again in December. I've told them that I'm happy to pay back all of the money (and have kept it in a savings account) but have been informed that repayments can't be processed until the leaving date has been confirmed. I am due to start another more local, Civil Service job in January and think this might cause problems with setting up accounts in my new department and also with HMRC and tax purposes.

I have repeatedly contacted the HR team handling overpayments only to be continually redirected to my former manager, who the HR team have said needs to confirm that I've left in order for them to register the payments as 'overpayments'. When I have emailed my manager, she says she has already done this and that the HR team have gotten confused about the extension date. The HR team have also told me that they are not personally responsible for chasing up these things and that it is my responsibility to get my manager to re-record my original leaving date.

I've been going back and forth for months now and don't know what to do anymore, so would appreciate any help or advice!

UPDATE: I didn't receive a December payment in my bank account, but called HMRC who informed me that the department were claiming a December payment had been processed. I emailed my manager again and was told that HR had made an immediate order on 20th December to stop any further payments from entering my account, but that the contract itself hadn't been ended (and HMRC hadn't been informed).

ACAS have said they can't help me as they only deal with the illegality of underpayments, not overpayments. I've also been in contact with HMRC again, who have ended the 'live job' status of the internship as of December 2019, which is still false but will at least stop an emergency tax rate being applied to my any new employment. They've also said they'll be launching an investigation as my old department is misleading HMRC with false payments that were never intended to enter my bank account, and potentially breaking laws. I need to send HMRC bank statements and emails as proof of this, and the investigation could take over a month, but I feel a bit better knowing that at least some progress is being made!

FURTHER UPDATE: HR have now closed my contract but have not, and have no intention of, informing HMRC of what has happened. They're now also in the process of trying to recover the overpayments made, bizarrely including for December (even though I never received a December payment because they blocked it from entering my account??).

I'm going to be sending 3 months worth of emails and bank statements to HMRC tomorrow morning and will wait to see what they say before taking any further action.
Last edited by etherealinsanity; 1 year ago
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TheMcSame
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You've let them know, even told the people they've told you to tell, by the sounds of it, it's a problem within the company. You've done as instructed, that should be the end of it as far as you're concerned. The idea that a business would work like this is archaic because they're just p*ssing money into the wind at this point.

Best I can say is keep putting it in a savings account (ideally one that pays interest monthly, so if they catch on before the end of the year, you've at least made a bit of money off it) in case they start asking for it back and see what happens down the line. Have they handed you anything to say you've actually been let go like a P60? If so, you could prove to HMRC, should it cause any tax issues, that you no longer work for them but they insist on continuing to pay you.

I also wouldn't make any more offers to pay them back and instead never mention it again unless they request you pay them back. With any luck they'll forget about overpaying you and you've pocketed however much money + interest. Just continue to contact them every time they wrongly pay you and contact the relevant people they direct you to so you're covering your ass. I'd also advise moving communication to email/text so you have a record of what is being said.
Last edited by TheMcSame; 1 year ago
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Catherine1973
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You can’t pay them back until they have sorted out the final pay slip as you need to have the tax and ni refunded. And them to work out how to treat any pension payments (probably can’t refund) or student loan (same). Then you repay the net amount. And best to get it done within this tax year!
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etherealinsanity
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(Original post by TheMcSame)
You've let them know, even told the people they've told you to tell, by the sounds of it, it's a problem within the company. You've done as instructed, that should be the end of it as far as you're concerned. The idea that a business would work like this is archaic because they're just p*ssing money into the wind at this point.

Best I can say is keep putting it in a savings account (ideally one that pays interest monthly, so if they catch on before the end of the year, you've at least made a bit of money off it) in case they start asking for it back and see what happens down the line. Have they handed you anything to say you've actually been let go like a P60? If so, you could prove to HMRC, should it cause any tax issues, that you no longer work for them but they insist on continuing to pay you.

I also wouldn't make any more offers to pay them back and instead never mention it again unless they request you pay them back. With any luck they'll forget about overpaying you and you've pocketed however much money + interest. Just continue to contact them every time they wrongly pay you and contact the relevant people they direct you to so you're covering your ass. I'd also advise moving communication to email/text so you have a record of what is being said.
Hey TheMcSame,

I've made sure to always email confirming what's been said after every phone call so it doesn't look like I'm just pocketing the money. I got really frustrated during the last email and phone call, and both my former manager and the HR overpayments team made it clear that the money would have to be paid back.

They haven't sent me a P45 or P60 and I only have the original contract for 6 weeks (I didn't have to sign a new contract for the extension). In all of my emails I mention the extended end date of 20th September but I don't know how to prove to HMRC that I'm no longer working for the old department. I'm just worried as I think it'll look like I'm working two jobs when I start the new one in January, and I don't want to be paying tax for a combined £50k salary when it's actually just £25k a year I'd be earning.
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etherealinsanity
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(Original post by Catherine1973)
You can’t pay them back until they have sorted out the final pay slip as you need to have the tax and ni refunded. And them to work out how to treat any pension payments (probably can’t refund) or student loan (same). Then you repay the net amount. And best to get it done within this tax year!
Hey Catherine1973,

Thanks for the advice!

I've been trying really hard to get them to sort it out since October but they don't seem to be getting a move on. I've even told them I'm starting a new job and I'm scared it's going to cause complications but they just said they're trying their hardest. I think the problem is that the HR overpayments team (strangely) aren't allowed to chase up the team I was working for, and my manager doesn't know what she's doing with contracts as she hasn't had an intern before me. I escalated the matter to my manager's manager (and then my manager's manager's manager) but the HR team refuse to deal with communications from anyone but the person who was managing me.

It all seems a bit of mess mostly because there are so many communication barriers and procedures that need to be followed, but I'm just scared about the complications it's going to cause further down the line.
Last edited by etherealinsanity; 1 year ago
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Catherine1973
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I would email as high up as you can. As departments have budgets and the person at the top will be penalised for any over spend and can get your manager to fix it the easiest.
Why can’t you have a 3 way email with he confirming to your manager they need to clarify your leave date and your manager confirming it back?
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etherealinsanity
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(Original post by Catherine1973)
I would email as high up as you can. As departments have budgets and the person at the top will be penalised for any over spend and can get your manager to fix it the easiest.
Why can’t you have a 3 way email with he confirming to your manager they need to clarify your leave date and your manager confirming it back?
I've emailed up as high as to the person who's responsible for handling all of the Civil Service internships, but as the HR overpayments and contracts team refuse to talk to anyone but my manager (who was responsible for handling my contract and any extensions) this never works, and the matter is always deescalated back to my manager. And while I know they want the money back eventually, I don't think the person in charge of budgets cares enough to treat this as a matter of urgency - while I was there, there were a lot of team events going on, and the person at the top authorised staff payments and reimbursements for silly things like whole days where staff were 'on site' at hotels, trying out pools and food to 'research' the best venue for things like team awards events and away days.

I also sent a 3 way email back in October and then again in November, but the HR team never responds to these and my manager (when she chooses to reply) replies only to me, cutting out the HR email address. The HR team's email address is also a group one so I can never get the same person to look at the matter again, which means I just end up repeating myself and trying out the same "solutions" even when I say I've tried them before.

But thank you for your suggestions so far! I'll definitely email up again come the end of this month and try another 3 way email as well. Maybe if I keep bothering them enough they'll get bored of the emails and finally try to sort the matter out!
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etherealinsanity
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UPDATE: I didn't receive a December payment in my bank account, but called HMRC who informed me that the department were claiming a December payment had been processed. I emailed my manager again and was told that HR had made an immediate order on 20th December to stop any further payments from entering my account, but that the contract itself hadn't been ended (and HMRC hadn't been informed).

ACAS have said they can't help me as they only deal with the illegality of underpayments, not overpayments. I've also been in contact with HMRC again, who have ended the 'live job' status of the internship as of December 2019, which is still false but will at least stop an emergency tax rate being applied to my any new employment. They've also said they'll be launching an investigation as my old department is misleading HMRC with false payments that were never intended to enter my bank account, and potentially breaking laws. I need to send HMRC bank statements and emails as proof of this, and the investigation could take over a month, but I feel a bit better knowing that at least some progress is being made as my old department still isn't showing any urgency!
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etherealinsanity
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FURTHER UPDATE: HR have now closed my contract but have not, and have no intention of, informing HMRC of what has happened. They're now also in the process of trying to recover the overpayments made, bizarrely including for December (even though I never received a December payment because they blocked it from entering my account??).

I'm going to be sending 3 months worth of emails and bank statements to HMRC tomorrow morning and will wait to see what they say before taking any further action.
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TheMcSame
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(Original post by etherealinsanity)
FURTHER UPDATE: HR have now closed my contract but have not, and have no intention of, informing HMRC of what has happened. They're now also in the process of trying to recover the overpayments made, bizarrely including for December (even though I never received a December payment because they blocked it from entering my account??).

I'm going to be sending 3 months worth of emails and bank statements to HMRC tomorrow morning and will wait to see what they say before taking any further action.
Best I can say is provide the company with a bank statement proving that you received no December payment.

If they start making silly claims about you editing the document and continue to demand it... Idk... They'll probably seek debt collectors at that point if they can't recover this non-existent payment, so it may well become a court matter. Though personally, if they gave me that lark, I'd just give them the finger and tell them HMRC is investigating the matter and has stated that laws have potentially been broken by them. I'd also CC the head of HR in that email (if it isn't already going to them) just to lay that extra layer of "you've really f*cked up".

Also, would they not have been providing you with payslips while they were overpaying you? I would've thought HMRC might want to take a look at those as well. Maybe bring it up if it isn't something they've mentioned.

If they haven't provided payslips in that duration, while you weren't working with them, they were paying you as if you were and thus they'd be legally obliged (on a technicality because they considered you an employee at the time of payment) to provide you with a payslip. That would definitely be worth mentioning to HMRC if they didn't provide such payslips as it would technically be a breach of law, again, as they considered you an employee at the time of payment.
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Vinny C
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Keep your head down and plead insanity if discovered.
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Catherine1973
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Yes they need to send you the payslips that add up to the final p45. I can sort I’d see why they didn’t pay December- payroll run wrongly again so reported to hmrc but then they don’t pay you as they’d need to claim it back. I am not sure that is entirely legal though. So assume in January you will get a p45 and possibly a big negative payslip? Which will also show the December unpaid net pay as an offset?
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etherealinsanity
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(Original post by TheMcSame)
Best I can say is provide the company with a bank statement proving that you received no December payment.

If they start making silly claims about you editing the document and continue to demand it... Idk... They'll probably seek debt collectors at that point if they can't recover this non-existent payment, so it may well become a court matter. Though personally, if they gave me that lark, I'd just give them the finger and tell them HMRC is investigating the matter and has stated that laws have potentially been broken by them. I'd also CC the head of HR in that email (if it isn't already going to them) just to lay that extra layer of "you've really f*cked up".

Also, would they not have been providing you with payslips while they were overpaying you? I would've thought HMRC might want to take a look at those as well. Maybe bring it up if it isn't something they've mentioned.

If they haven't provided payslips in that duration, while you weren't working with them, they were paying you as if you were and thus they'd be legally obliged (on a technicality because they considered you an employee at the time of payment) to provide you with a payslip. That would definitely be worth mentioning to HMRC if they didn't provide such payslips as it would technically be a breach of law, again, as they considered you an employee at the time of payment.
I didn't receive any payslips even when I was physically working for the department so I hadn't expected any to come through (they had an internal system that allowed employees to keep track of payments so I don't know if they used that in place of payslips?). I'll chase it up with HMRC just in case though!

The Civil Service department I was working for basically has its own internal HR team, who made the order to stop payments, and then a larger, outsourced HR team who handle overpayments and contracts; the two don't at all communicate but have managed to make a mess of things together. I don't think the overpayment team would accept anything but confirmation of what's happened from the internal team, but it would be my responsibility to relay messages between the two and I don't think I would get anywhere. Providing a bank statement would be the simplest thing, but because of their strange, rigid internal procedures it's not something I think they would accept - I'll give it a go anyway though just in case it does work!
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etherealinsanity
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(Original post by Vinny C)
Keep your head down and plead insanity if discovered.
I think that's the best idea I've heard yet and, to be honest, might be the only thing that works in this situation!
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etherealinsanity
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(Original post by Catherine1973)
Yes they need to send you the payslips that add up to the final p45. I can sort I’d see why they didn’t pay December- payroll run wrongly again so reported to hmrc but then they don’t pay you as they’d need to claim it back. I am not sure that is entirely legal though. So assume in January you will get a p45 and possibly a big negative payslip? Which will also show the December unpaid net pay as an offset?
Thanks Catherine - I'm going to chase the payslip issue tomorrow and try to get to the bottom of it!
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