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David Bradley, Head of Employment at Ramsdens Solicitors, has featured on HR Grapevine, where he has given his opinion on a worker, whose boss has demanded her pay back £20,000, after being overpaid for 10 years.

David Bradley, told HR Grapevine that there may be opportunities to defend such a claim: "“We would need to know what the contract of employment said but it is not unusual for them to contain terms to recover overpayments.

“The employers claim is likely to be based on ‘mistake’ and the claim would be for ‘restitution’ in the alternative to a straight claim for repayment under the contract."

“The employee may seek to argue a limitation period of six years from the date of payments and that would remove a significant amount and another defence would be that the employees circumstances have changed as a consequence of the overpayment, i.e. she has spent it innocently and adjusted her life to that salary.”

In addition, Bradley said that there may also be a defence of ‘estoppel’ where “the employer is prevented from claiming by the actions it has taken as representing the actual salary as the true salary”.

“Finally, the employee should look at the wording of any letters of salary change over the [ten] years as they may state the salary the employer is paying and it would probably be difficult for the employer to then argue otherwise," Bradley added.

You can read David’s full comments on HR Grapevine here.