22 January 2018

Ask RiotACT: Overpayment from the Public Service

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Hi RiotACT Community,

I have found myself in a situation where my HR department has overpaid me for a period of 12 months – leaving me with a liability in excess of a complete fortnight pay. This is an error caused by the HR department not by myself. I was wondering what your experience has been and what are my rights in terms of negotiating a re-payment plan.

I have been told that the delegate has to approve a payment schedule plan (otherwise payment is due immediately). HR have given me a stat dec template which requires me to complete total assets, liability, income and expenditure details not only for myself but my total annual household. I am completely against giving HR this level of detail (it is more than what my bank requires for a credit card application) and loathed to supply this information to them (as it is none of their business).

Has anyone had a similar experience or knows what my rights are in relation to negotiating a plan without having to provide intimate details of my financial situation to my employer?

Thanks in advance.

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This just happens sometimes if we take our eyes off the ball. I expect you will be paying back the gross overpayment out of post tax (net) income. Maybe talk to your accountant.

They are obliged to be hardline because this is taxpayer’s money. You will be incredibly lucky if you are let off interest under a payment plan. Just give them the info they are asking for or pay them back straight away. It’s fair enough that they are establishing whether paying them back would cause you hardship.

It’s strange that they would need that level of information.
OP should speak to the payroll team, not just HR, to see what agreement they can come to. Payroll should be across any regulations/guidelines regarding overpayments.
They don’t need to know where your money is going – that’s your business. All they need to know is how they can recover the outstanding amount.
I would also advise OP to carefully check each payslip to ensure their pay is correct from here on in and query anything that doesn’t look right.

Andrew “woodsy” Ingram11:17 pm 23 Jan 18

How is this a legit question? You were over paid however it happened you are not entitled to the extra money so you give it back. Tell them your situation give a rough breakdown of where your pay goes every fortnight or month. You should be attempting to pay it back in the shortest time possible. I then suggest you keep a closer eye on your pay slip and your bank account when it’s pay day. You may also want to re read the code of conduct and your employment agreement.

While they are within their rights to request repayment I do question the level of information required. The only thing I can think of is that they are trying to determine your level of financial hardship in repaying, which can affect your need to repay. I would start with getting in touch with the Fair Work Commission to see if they have any information. If in the union, I would be contacting a delegate.

Capital Retro10:15 am 24 Jan 18

Or you could follow the rules that everyone else has to.
There is another world out there without nanny agencies and unions – give it a try and sort it out yourself.

Capital Retro7:14 am 23 Jan 18

Why did it take you 12 months to “discover” the error?

They’ve indicated that its in excess of a fortnight, so even if their take home pay was supposed to be $3k per fortnight, it’s around $100 a fortnight overpayment. Especially if it was a new job, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the OP just thought it was fine.

Why do you feel the need to opt to attack and assume the worst of the OP? You could easily ask the same question in a different way without the complete condescension and instant suspicion.

Honestly OP, I don’t have any other info, other than if you have some savings, just have them take it from the next pay in one hit and you can put it behind you. I’ve never been subject to large overpayments before though, so I don’t have any experience negotiating payment plans, or the info they want unfortunately.

Capital Retro8:24 am 24 Jan 18

I never employed anyone who didn’t check their wages. I am sure if the error was an underpayment it would not have been “just fine”.

And asking the OP a simple question is not “attacking”. Obviously your advocacy of the OP’s problem is motivated by a different culture to mine and I understand that.

It’s not uncommon for people to not check their payslips, especially when the amount they’re being paid is consistent.

It happened to my wife, she was overpaid for about 6 months. The problem was she was a non-ongoing doing an APS3 job acting as an APS4. She then got a permanent part time APS3 job but they continued paying at the APS4 level and it didn’t standout as it was $100p/f after tax AND all the salary figures on her payslip were correct. We only found out when we applied for a loan and did the atcual pay figures for our budget.

We had the capacity to pay it back in full, but I can fully understand why others might need to pay it back at a smaller amount every fortnight.

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