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Employer paid me a car allowance AND gave the car - now they want the moneyand car back.

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This is a little different to all other 'employer overpaid' questions I think. In 2008, I was promoted to a new role that included a contractual bonus plus car allowance. I was also offered a car from the company scheme. As I was in discussion with ING about the cars and their relevant costs to me (which would be paid from my allowance) I was told that my employer had changed their policy and I may now not be eligible for a car.


I asked my HR department and they told me that they were in the process of working out who would be allowed cars. They said I could have one of the pool cars until the decision was made. I was given a choice of 4 cars and I asked via email what the costs of those cars would be for me. They did vary in engine size, emissions etc so I knew the costs would vary from around £350 to £500 per month. I was told by email that I would not be charged for the car. I asked again to double check and explained that I would choose the biggest car (well why not if it's free?). The response was the same. The reply - I would receive the car and my allowance until further notice.


I later received a document from ING with a line against "cost" stating "n/a as agreed by xxxxxx of company's HR department"


I had fully believed that until further notice I would receive the allowance and the car and that was substantiated by emails. I understood that it was a pool car that had no home so they were doing me a favour as well as them having a benefit since the car had no home - there were no parking facilities at the company (central London).


About 6 months later I received a letter stating that I should decide whether I wished to take out a new car contract in late 2011 or return to my existing car allowance at that date. Until that date I could keep the car. This is the ONLY correspondence I have had and I replied stating that I would return the car in 2011.


I took a career break in late 2009 and returned a few weeks ago. When I left for 6 months I was left the car, my laptop, and my Blackberry - nothing was said to me and I thought this was since I was returning.


Upon returning to work last month I was told I should have returned the car when I left (even though I was never asked to return it and I had assumed it was no different to somebody taking maternity leave when they keep their car) and was told I should not have received both the allowance AND the car.


After a meeting with HR I have been told I would not receive the bonus due to me (for work previous to my break) and my car allowance had been withdrawn since my return. These were contractual benefits and I did not consent their withdrawal. They stated that I should have known that I could not receive both the car and the allowance and so I should have told them and had things changed. I obviously disagreed.


Nevertheless, I am being asked to pay all the money back, amounting to about £9000. My arguments were as follows:



1. I soon realised that the car was not for me and I stated that I would actually prefer to have the allowance rather than the car when they asked me to decide (via the aforementioned letter). I still had to commute by train to work so it was sitting at home doing nothing most of the time.

2. I have belief with evidence that the car AND allowance was offered to me "until further notice".

3. My career break used up all my savings and so I am now struggling to survive with the cut in salary due to the allowance being withdrawn against my consent.

4. The offer of car plus allowance made sense to me as the car was sitting doing nothing at the company and had already been leased by them until 2011. It was not costing anything for me to use that car and hence everything seemed correct. The car model would not have been my choice.

5. For my career break I was overseas so the car sat doing nothing other than costing me for a parking permit. It presented no benefit to me during this period and I see it as the responsibility of my manager to request company possessions back if it is necessary. I was not asked for my laptop of Blackberry either.


Sorry for the long statement but where do I stand? I resigned today over this as I am disgusted at how I have been treated.

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Hello and Welcome, laneontour.


I'll move this thread to the appropriate Forum.






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Hello and welcome to the forum.


What does it say in your contract of employment about this please?


You won't want to hear this, but I have never come across someone having a car and a car allowance at the same time. I see you did query it at the time. How do you stand with income tax/benefits in kind, do you know?


Do you have another job to go to?



Illegitimi non carborundum




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My contract stated nothing about allowance or car. The covering letter stated that the allowance was offered as part of the package and as an "Essential User" I could choose a car using the company scheme with ING. I never got the chance to choose a small car (to allow me to keep some money from the allowance back to cover the tax payments).


As far as income tax is concerned I have been paying a high price for the car as its emissions/engine size are large. It has been shown as a company car on my tax forms although I had contacted the inland revenue in the past to explain that this was a pool car and not a company car. They stated that as it's in my name it is deemed a company car. I left it at that and just thought I was still not out of pocket so I was happy with the situation. It certainly wouldn't have been my car of choice if I was having to pay all of this on top of the allowance, even if they had offered to limit the payment to my monthly allowance and given me the more expensive car.


No job to go to but happy to walk over this.

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Just to clarify something. The email trail between myself and HR was as follows:-


HR - "We are offering a pool car to you while the Essential Cars Users are being decided. Please see the attached list of card available. I will let ING know that you are eligible for a pool car."


Me - "A pool car would be good. Can you just confirm for me exactly how the pool car system works. What are the costs involved and do I need to pay per month?"


HR - "Due to your situation there will be no cost involved for you with the lease of the car. The car will be yours to use until we decide the essential car users then we will communicate the process".


Then a memo from ING to myself and HR detailing the Car Issue stated:


Monthly Contribution (debit from driver): n/a/ - as approved by xxxxxx (HR)


Monthly Payment (credit to driver): n/a - as approved by xxxxxx (HR)


Nothing was ever communicated further about the essential car users other than the aforementioned letter.

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