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Hi all, I'd appreciate if someone could advise me on what to do?!

 

My husband was headhunted by an agency for a job in a school in X. He had a permanent 5 year job near where we lived and his salary was 17k pa.

 

He was offered 21k to work in this school, both the manager in the school and the woman in the agency sent him emails after his interview confirming the job offer of 21k fixed term contract for 1 year with the possibility of extension. He accepted the job and started working there first week of November 2015.

 

Two weeks later he was called in his manager's office and was told that if he left quietly he will be paid till the end of the month and will be provided with references. Obviously he was very distraught and sent his resignation letter the following week. A week after resigning he received his payslip and contract from X council to sign. The payslip and contract showed his annual salary at 17k! It is then we realized that he was pushed out because the school realized they could not pay him the salary he was offered.

 

In March we received a letter from debt collectors for salary overpayment.

 

It was annoying because the X council did not even call or write to us beforehand. My husband contacted the HR office and told them what had happened between him and the school. After 'investigating' for 2 weeks the HR wrote back saying surprise surprise that the manager of the school never said he would pay him till the end of the month and since the contract offered was 21k fixed term it meant 21k pro rata which equates 17k pa.

 

First of all, if my husband was offered 21k pro rata he would have never taken it. Secondly, in any of the correspondences was 'pro rata' mentioned. I have called numerous solicitors just to ask for an advice and none want to give me advice because they don't want to take the case. We just want to know whether we should send a letter back to HR quoting different legal sources. If I am not mistaken this can come under estoppel? Or we should just pay them since we cant afford being taken to court.

 

But we don't want to pay because of the principle and because of what had happened.

 

Any advice is appreciated.

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the verbal contract stands but of course how do you prove it. Estoppel would also apply as clearly a decision was taken on the promise that would otherwise not be taken so you are on fairly solid ground.

As for saying you cant afford to be taken to court, that is a nonsense as it isnt down to you. Be firm in your response to the people at the council and they will realise that they really dont have a realistic chance of persuading you to cave in and they then will have to take a pragmatic approach to this as the cost of legal action will far outweigh the amount it will be possible to recover. If you are broke then you cant pay them anyway so a costs order would be unlikely, even if you lost.

The reality is that your hubby has a better claim against them than they do against him.

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Why are the debt collectors saying there was an overpayment? Is it because he was getting paid at the rate of 21k rather than 17k, or is it because they are saying he was overpaid for his notice period?

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First off, it would help is enormously if you would not present your story in solid blocks of text.

 

Please will you space and punctuate your text correctly. It will make it more easy for us to see and easier to help you.

 

Certainly, if they sue you then you appear to have the basis for claiming an estoppel. Read the explanation under the estoppel link and you will understand more.

 

You don't say how much they are proposing to sue you for. You really haven't given us an awful lot of detail.

 

I don't understand how a pro rata 21,000 equals 17,000. Maybe you can explain that.

 

Also, it will be very interesting to see the emails confirming the fixed term contract and the rate of pay.

 

Under employment law you wouldn't accrue any rights before you have completed two years. However, here you have been offered a fixed term contract. This makes things much more interesting because you have a firm undertaking from the employer as to the length of time they will commit to the employee. Although I do not think that you would be able to raise a complaint about this to industrial tribunal, you could easily have an action in a County Court.

 

Therefore it would be helpful if we could have a more carefully laid out account of what he was earning, what he gave up to take the new employment, how the new employment was remunerated. We would also like to see any other material relating to the offer of employment and the calculation of the remuneration. Also, what other statements or paperwork relating to his employment or describing as conditions of employment was he provided with.

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Why are the debt collectors saying there was an overpayment? Is it because he was getting paid at the rate of 21k rather than 17k, or is it because they are saying he was overpaid for his notice period?

 

They and the HR are saying he was overpayed because he worked there for 2 weeks and got a whole month salary. They said they never got his notice in on time in order to stop the payment. We never questioned it as the manager told him that he will be paid till the end of the month if he left quietly.

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First off, it would help is enormously if you would not present your story in solid blocks of text.

 

Please will you space and punctuate your text correctly. It will make it more easy for us to see and easier to help you.

 

Certainly, if they sue you then you appear to have the basis for claiming an estoppel. Read the explanation under the estoppel link and you will understand more.

 

You don't say how much they are proposing to sue you for. You really haven't given us an awful lot of detail.

 

I don't understand how a pro rata 21,000 equals 17,000. Maybe you can explain that.

 

Also, it will be very interesting to see the emails confirming the fixed term contract and the rate of pay.

 

Under employment law you wouldn't accrue any rights before you have completed two years. However, here you have been offered a fixed term contract. This makes things much more interesting because you have a firm undertaking from the employer as to the length of time they will commit to the employee. Although I do not think that you would be able to raise a complaint about this to industrial tribunal, you could easily have an action in a County Court.

 

Therefore it would be helpful if we could have a more carefully laid out account of what he was earning, what he gave up to take the new employment, how the new employment was remunerated. We would also like to see any other material relating to the offer of employment and the calculation of the remuneration. Also, what other statements or paperwork relating to his employment or describing as conditions of employment was he provided with.

 

First of all thank you for your reply.

 

At the moment they have not mentioned any court action. We are only still receiving the letters from the debt collectors. The latest correspondence we received from the HR ( a month ago) is that they have concluded their investigation and that they expect the payment of £525 (approximate as I do not have the paperwork with me at the moment).

 

They also stated that: "The post to which you were appointed is graded at BR6, points 17 to 21; you started on point 20 and the full time equivalent for this was £21153. You were employed to work 35 hours per week for 39 weeks per year so the pro rata salary was £17616".

 

Another thing they mentioned was:

"I have clarified the appointment details with your Manager and asked him what salary was offered and as far as he’s aware it would have been the pro rata salary that was confirmed to you and stated in the contract your received."

 

The last quote is quite interesting as my husband only received his contract 2 weeks after his resignation. As my husband was reluctant to hand in his notice at his permanent job (where he worked for 5 years and walked to work for 30min) without a written job offer (for a new job where he would have to commute for 1.5hrs), the manager sent him an email stating:

Please accept this email as a contract of employment.

The details agreed are as follows;

One week placement with PPA at X from 19th to 23rd of October 2015 at agreed daily rate

One year FT fixed contract with potential of permanent FT contract to follow from 26th Oct 2015

Rate of pay £21k

 

Main correspondences we have are the email exchanges between my husband and his manager. He never received his contract or any such paperwork describing the conditions of employment. Nothing was ever signed. We just want the harassment to stop and to resolve the issue once and for all. If we are in the right, what can we put in the letter to the HR? Or should we just wait till they threaten us with court action?

 

Basically the issue is that the manager said he would be paid till the end of the month as he was, but now he changed his story and they want half of the month's salary back. We do not have that money anymore as we have used it in the purchase of our property. Do we ignore the issue or confront them with a stern letter?

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Who are the debt collectors that they have put on the case? Although these people technically have no power, are you keeping an eye on your credit record?

 

Has your husband been able to return to his old job? Also, the extracts which you have posted don't seem to refer to any pre-employment discussions or negotiations.

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As mentioned previously it would seem on the face of it that you would have a substantial defence to any potential court claim to recover the money and the claimant could be estopped from recovery

 

The principal of estoppel requires that you had good reason to believe entitlement to the money and that you have changed your position (ie spent the money) in good faith on the understanding that you were entitled to it. From what you have said, there was a clear understanding that the appointment was at the stated salary and that when asked to resign, payment would be made until the end of the month.

 

This is probably some considerable way from being a court claim. A debt collector cannot take you to court, and the Council may well not go down that route due to the likely cost - and as any potential claim would be classed as small claims, their legal costs would in most cases not be recoverable.

 

The fact is that most of this seems to rely on verbal statements which may or may not be true. You can't prove that a salary of £21k was promised, but neither can the other side disprove this. You do have correspondence though which states £21k and there is no mention of 'pro-rata' and I am sure that on the balance of probabilities the Council would have a good deal of trouble proving their claim.

 

Firstly, you do not have to deal with the DCA at all - they are utterly powerless and are involved merely as a lever to extract money. All they can do is threaten so don't play their game. Write and state that there is no legitimacy to their claim and that you will not be corresponding further. Their client is well aware that you do not intend to pay the money since no debt is owing and that any further threats will be treated as harassment and will be reported accordingly.

 

Come back here if you receive further threats. Also, please tell us who is chasing you - that will give us a good idea of how to treat them

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