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AIBU - legally can they actually do this!?

(57 Posts)
BMWL Thu 28-May-20 18:27:06

I work for quite a large private company.
I am contracted for 34.5 hours a week.
During this pandemic, I have been working, but have been working reduced hours - average 25-30 hours a week. But have been getting my full pay as normal.

They have now said that any hours that have not been worked by staff, will have to be paid back to the company, or employees can have their annual leave entitlements taken from them to get rid of these hours that are owed to the company.

I feel like this is a bit of a crappy thing to do, I would have preferred to been paid for the hours I've worked, than now absolutely killing my self for the rest of the year trying to work over time to make up these hours.

To put things in perspective, some employees owe 180 hours

Any help/guidance would be greatly appreciated

OP’s posts: |
Jeezoh Thu 28-May-20 18:28:30

Who decided you’d work reduced hours - you or the company?

BumpBundle Thu 28-May-20 18:30:18

I'm a lawyer and I did one seat in Employment but it's not my speciality. It pretty much depends what has been communicated to you and when - and what your contract says.
If you were told, in writing, that they were reducing your hours but not your pay then they cannot just change their mind and demand the money back. If they said they were reducing your hours then it's reasonable to assume your pay would fall too so if they paid you extra in error then you probably do need to pay it back. It all depends on what has been agreed between you and your employer.

DartmoorChef Thu 28-May-20 18:32:49

I used to work in payroll. Did they give you anything in writing?

My dp is on reduced hours with full pay, but on the agreement that he is on call throughout those hours.

BuffaloCauliflower Thu 28-May-20 18:34:32

I’m pretty sure they can’t do this retrospectively. They’d have had to get your consent for reduced pay from the start, they can’t add it in now and ask for it back. I’d call ACAS.

BMWL Thu 28-May-20 18:56:01

Thank you all for your replies.
It was the company that decided we would be working reduced hours due to reduced public demand during the lockdown. Nothing in writing regarding this.
So now, they are going to take holidays off staff if they owe a lot of hours to the company.
It makes my blood boil but nothing was put in writing and the management are very unapproachable so I really don't know what to do.
I feel I'm stuck now and will just have to work a lot of extra hours in the coming months without any capacity to take any annual leave later in the year as it will be taken

OP’s posts: |
topcat2014 Thu 28-May-20 19:00:01

Well, with nothing in writing it seems like your case is not as strong as it could be.

(and I speak as someone on 80% pay for 100% hours..)

Why didn't staff push to get this stuff written down?

Good luck though..

Nottherealslimshady Thu 28-May-20 19:00:58

Are you paid hourly or salaried? If you're paid say 10 per hour then surely its reasonable to expect to get paid the hours you work?

DollyPomPoms Thu 28-May-20 19:02:32

I wonder if they have done this so in the hope that you all choose the annual leave option so they do not have to carry over any annual leave to next year.

JagerPlease Thu 28-May-20 19:03:22

It seems mad that people are owing 180 hours....surely they should have just furloughed some staff?!

00Sassy Thu 28-May-20 19:04:13

Please speak to ACAS about this.

It might be that they can ask you to pay it back if it was paid to you in error maybe.

Please also bear in mind that if they let you take the hours out of your annual leave allowance this will probably only be allowed up to a certain amount of hours, due to all employees being expected to take a minimum of 5.6 weeks annual leave per year.
The 5.6 weeks of annual leave MUST be taken away from the workplace and cannot be worked.

BlueRaincoat1 Thu 28-May-20 19:05:41

How are they proposing that you 'pay it back'? Do they literally want you to give them money, or do they propose to deduct it from future wages?

MeninSuits Thu 28-May-20 19:05:55

Is this TOIL they are taking back or annual leave

LakieLady Thu 28-May-20 19:11:17

How would that affect employees' right to a minimum of 20 days paid leave + public holidays?

There won't be a paper trail showing that leave has been requested/granted. I really don't see how this can be ok, not least because there was no prior notification or consultation.

I think this is another "Ring Acas" matter, tbh. Unless you're in a union.

Brefugee Thu 28-May-20 19:19:11

Are you in a union?

mumwon Thu 28-May-20 19:27:28

'ere we go again
look up locality
area of law solicitor specializes in
whether they do free or low cost single appointment

BlackandGold Thu 28-May-20 19:27:33

I would suggest you post this on the Employment Issues Board, which has some very knowledgeable people.

00Sassy Thu 28-May-20 19:31:20

OP in the UK an employee has the right to a minimum of 5.6 weeks per year off work, away from the workplace.

So for an employee who usually works 5 days per week they will need to take a minimum of 28 days per year of annual leave. It doesn’t matter if they work bank holidays or when those days are taken off but they must have that time away from work.

So let’s say you get an allowance of 30 days a year of annual leave and you usually work 5 days a week.
If your employer wanted you to work some of that annual leave (which they are retrospectively asking you to do) they could only ask you to work 2 days worth of your usual hours.

So if they are asking for more hours than that then that would be illegal.
Similarly if your annual leave is only 28 days then they can’t ask you to forfeit any of your annual leave.

MilkTrayLimeBarrel Thu 28-May-20 19:34:14

The Company is not a charity. You have had lots of time off - now make it up for the sake of the company and the economy.

CoRhona Thu 28-May-20 19:41:44

I don't understand why you were working fewer hours than you were contracted to?

Whenwillthisbeover Thu 28-May-20 19:52:10

Wouldn’t they have been better furloughing some people such as those that were vulnerable and sharing the full time work amongst others?

Marnie76 Thu 28-May-20 19:52:34


I don't understand why you were working fewer hours than you were contracted to?

Because they were told to by the company (stated later by OP)

DasPepe Thu 28-May-20 19:57:07

So it was all fine as long as everyone thought they might get to work less but get paid same?

Although I’m not in the UK, but I had a similar situation. I was not able to meet my hours (we log on and off however). I had a call with HR early on where we agreed that I can work at night (literally) as I was unable to work at daytime. We discussed the fact that it’s most likely I will not meet my contracted hours because of this. My FIRST question was how we deal with the shortfall of hours and what happens to the pay.
I was paid my normal salary but I do have some “owed” hours. It’s not great but I was clear about how we will proceed (and decided that it was probably the best solution for my circumstances).

Is there any communication regarding this cut in hours? Has everyone worked less and have they all been asked to? This might make a difference to your case

CharmingB Thu 28-May-20 19:57:24

Check your contract and any other documents you've signed. We have a "deductions from pay" agreement and clauses in our contracts which state that reduced working hours might affect your pay.

Once you've got your paperwork to hand, call acas and talk it through with them.

I can see why they'd want to pay less but they should have thought of it before, not in retrospect.

They'd have been better leaving some people on full hours and furloughing others to maximise people's personal earnings.

TerribleCustomerCervix Thu 28-May-20 19:57:39


The Company is not a charity. You have had lots of time off - now make it up for the sake of the company and the economy.

Do you have any professional experience which allows you to answer the OP’s question, or are you just giving your opinion?

Because she’s asking if it’s legal, not whether you think it’s ok or not.

Op you’d be best posting in Emoloyment Issues and hoping a poster called Flowery turns up.

And join a Union if you can. With this affecting so many staff it should be raised collectively as opposed to individually.

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