Real Employment Law Advice

Deductions from wages for overpaid wages

Can my employer take back money they have overpaid me from my wages?

The law provides protection against unlawful deductions from wages, and if your employer makes an unlawful deduction you may have the basis for a claim in the Employment Tribunal. The protection from unlawful deductions from wages is covered by section 13 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 which prevents employers making deductions unless they are:

  • required/authorised by law, i.e. tax and National Insurance;
  • permitted by a clause in your employment contract, or
  • where you have consented to the deduction; i.e. for a loan etc.

Wages are defined as any sums payable in connection with your employment including any fee, bonus, commission, holiday pay or other payment linked to your employment, whether payable under your employment contract or otherwise. The majority of payments you receive will be covered by this definition of ‘wages’.

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/

Recovery of overpayments of wages

Overpayments can arise because of a genuine payroll error or miscalculations of wages, bonus’, or commission.

If there is an express provision within your employment contract then the Employer can rely upon this clause to recoup money paid in error.

If, however there is no express provision within your contract the Employer would have to rely on an exemption to unlawful deductions from wages within Section 14 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This allows deductions to be made where there has been an overpayment of wages, thus enabling the Employer to correct any errors in their payroll process.

Other issues to consider

If your employer acts unreasonably in deducting the money or does so without giving you any notice then they could be in breach of their implied duty of trust and confidence. In this case you may be able to resign and pursue a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. Before taking this step you should however seek some advice specific to your case.

You should be given the opportunity to agree a repayment period with the employer particularly if the amount being claimed back is significant. Your employer should also give you enough notice of the deduction to enable you to make alternative arrangements. Employers should not apply a deduction that will leave you without enough money to pay your bills.

Overpayments after you have left

If you have left your employment with the employer and they claim that you owe them overpaid wages the position is slightly different and is the subject of a separate article which will be published shortly.

In the meantime you can always contact me on 023 8098 2006 or 01983 897003 if you would like some advice.


This blog post is a summary of the law at the time that it is written and has been produced for the purposes of information only. It should not be substituted for obtaining legal advice that is specific to your particular circumstances. Employment law changes frequently and the law may have changed since this was written. It is important to ensure that you have up to date advice. 


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3 Responses

  1. I am writing with regards to my employment that I was in for four days and was payed for four weeks now employment have gave me 14 days to repay £1300 in which I don’t have do you have advice you can offer

    1. Hi George

      I am sorry to hear what has happened. Much will depend on what the reason is for the deduction and what your terms of employment with the employer said.
      If you were overpaid wages then your employer can usually recover this from you. If you are unsure then please call for specific advice on 023 8098 2006.
      If you are struggling to pay it back and the money is recoverable from you, then you can always discuss with the employer and agree a payment plan.

      I can only give general advice via the website so please do get in touch as we offer an initial free telephone call.

      Best regards


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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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