What are my rights? Civil service job trying to claim back second overpayment, I left last July

(7 Posts)
RollingThunder Mon 14-Jan-13 16:06:15

I worked for the civil service, (don't want to say which one, as might out me), and after I had my second son, I had a years maternity leave and then a years career break. At that point they said, either return or give notice, fair enough, I handed in my notice. I was owed a little bit of money (annual leave etc). Which they duly paid me.

Two months later I get a letter saying I owe them £37 - as they have overpaid me - fair enough, I can live with that, I sent them a cheque for £37.

They have now sent me a second letter, stating that they got the overpayment calculation wrong, and I owe them another £102, on top of the £37 already paid.

Can they do this? Isn't there some point at which its just their problem? I mean they say they got my pay wrong first - their fault - but fine, then I paid back what they said, and now apparently 6 months after I left they want more money?

Does anyone know what the legal situation is with this?

NB the letter gave no explanation - just opps - sorry, and I have called them but the "case worker" is on a break!

RollingThunder Mon 14-Jan-13 17:04:27

Just checked, actually left last march/April, paid last overpayment last July. Can they really do this?

sleepyhead Mon 14-Jan-13 17:12:29

I don't know what the situation is legally, but I was in a similar situation many years ago with an employer who mucked me about royally with my final salary installment and subsequently wrote to say that I owed them around £100. Anyway, at the time I didn't have £100 or anything like it (I'd returned to studying) so I ignored the letter and haven't heard anything more about it.

I suspect if you owe them the money - and presumably you'd be entitled to evidence of this since I wouldn't be taking them at their word at this point, then they have the right to claim it back, but I'd doubt that they'd go to great lengths to pursue you for it.

RollingThunder Mon 14-Jan-13 17:17:23

The thing is last time they said they had a legal obligation to retrieve overpayments (being part of the civil service) so may have to follow it up.

I just feel like there must be some point at which it becomes their problem. I also want proof!

NB the letter says they audited it to 'rectify any errors quickly and efficiently!' I am not sure that nearly a year comes under that heading!!!!

prh47bridge Mon 14-Jan-13 18:13:03

There is no time limit as such. There is a legal concept of "unjust enrichment", which basically means you shouldn't benefit from someone else's mistake. Whilst there is a possible defence in your case based on the fact your ex-employer has had one go at recovering the money already, I wouldn't rely on the courts deciding in your favour.

You should certainly demand to know how they arrive at this figure. This is, after all, their second attempt to get it right and they are demanding nearly 3 times as much as you have already paid. That doesn't really give you any confidence that they've got it right this time.

RollingThunder Wed 16-Jan-13 11:35:43

thankyou prh47bridge (sorry for the delay in answering, in bed with Flue).

anybody else?

flowery Wed 16-Jan-13 13:37:34

I believe that after 6 years if the creditor has made no effort to contact the debtor or recover the debt, no legal action can be taken to recover it. Happy to be corrected on that if I'm wrong though.

But in your case it's only been 6 months.

If you owe the money you owe the money but I would absolutely agree not to pay a penny unless and until you've had a breakdown of what you were due, what you were paid etc.

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