Check if your employer can make deductions from your wages

If you haven’t been paid the amount you were expecting, talk to your employer first to check what’s happened. It gives your employer the chance to:

  • correct a mistake
  • explain why a deduction has been made

When your employer can make deductions

Your employer can only make a deduction from your pay if:

  • your contract allows it
  • you agreed it in writing before the deduction was made
  • they overpaid you by mistake
  • it’s required by law, for example Income Tax or a court order
  • you missed work because you were on strike or taking industrial action

Check your written agreements to see if any deductions are allowed. For example if your employer lent you money for a travel season ticket you might have agreed in writing to pay some of it back if you leave.

Your employer should always let you know if they’re going to make a deduction from your pay.  

Limits to deductions if you work in retail

Your employer can take a maximum of 10% of your weekly or monthly gross pay (your pay before tax and National Insurance) if you work in retail. This is to cover any mistakes or shortfalls, for example with cash or stock.

This limit doesn’t apply to your final pay if you leave your job. 

Your employer must let you know in writing if you owe them money. They must explain how they will claim it back before your next pay day. 

What happens if you’re overpaid

Your employer has the right to deduct money from your pay if they previously overpaid you by mistake.   

If it’s a simple overpayment for a week or month, they should speak to you and let you know they’re going to deduct it from your next pay. You could also agree to pay it back another way, for example by bank transfer.

Long-term overpayments

If overpayments have been going on for a while and you owe a large amount - your employer should:

  • speak to you about the amount owed
  • be flexible and fair claiming the money back
  • agree a repayment plan with you in writing

Speak to an Acas adviser if you: 

  • can't agree a repayment plan
  • didn't know you were being overpaid and will struggle to pay the money back

The adviser will explain your options and the risks and benefits of each. They cannot tell you what to do next or give legal advice.

Make a formal complaint to your employer

If you disagree with a deduction and haven’t been able to resolve it with your employer - you can make a formal complaint to them. This is called raising a grievance.  

You should put in writing:

  • the money you think you’re owed
  • why you think you’re owed it
  • when you would like it to be paid, normally within 7 to 14 days

You can raise a formal grievance even if you’ve left the organisation.

You might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal if you still can’t resolve the issue.

How far back you can claim

If your employer only made one deduction, you need to make a claim to an employment tribunal within 3 months of the deduction.

If several deductions were made in a row, you have to claim within 3 months of the last deduction. You can claim up to 2 years back as long as there isn't a gap of 3 months or more between deductions. 

Get wages you’re owed when your employer is insolvent

If your employer is insolvent, you can make a claim to the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS) for any money you’re owed.  

Call the RPS helpline on 0845 145 0004.

Check if your employer can make deductions from your wages
Pay and wages
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