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If an employer overpaid you, can they make you pay them back?
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If an employer overpaid you, can they make you pay them back?

Lets say you are an hourly employee, and you take a week of unpaid vacation off of work. Two weeks later, you get a paycheck denoting pay for the week of vacation that you took. You think that perhaps you did in fact have paid vacation, so you go ahead and cash the check, and spend the funds. The amount of pay for that week was approximately $500.

About a month and a half later, and after quiting the job, you receive a letter saying that you were paid in error by no fault of your own, and that the ex-employer is requesting installment payments of the amount overpayed.

Can the ex-employer require you to pay back the wages that they paid you?

Note: there was no foul pay on your behalf i.e. you did not fradulently report time or misrepresent your vacation status. Management was fully aware that you were taking time off work. All actions by yourself were made in full faith.


Audrey B
This has happened to me. I was sent a letter stating they had over paid me. I began paying it back in payments. They were willing to work with me in repaying the total amount over the course of 4 months. I spoke to someone about it and I do believe that if you were not to repay the could take you to court and then you would be made to pay all court and lawyer fees too.

You still have to pay the money back even if it wasn't your fault.

Yes they can, just like if they overpaid you during the week. If you knew you did not have it coming to you you should of contacted them, they are being nice asking for installments instead of the whole thing at once.

I believe you have to pay it back. You should not benefit financially from a mistake. It is the ethical thing to do, also.

in a word.....yes

Yes, if you were accidentally granted paid time off that you were not eligible for, then the employer can require repayment. It's kinda petty of them to do so, but it is their money.
Check your employee handbook and your time off records to make sure that you either weren't eligible for PTO, or you distinctly requested the time be unpaid. If you really got paid incorrectly, then you are morally and legally bound to return the money.


You have a decision to make. They most likely won't go to court over this because of the cost of legal fees but they could put a report on your credit report.
They may be able to get the police invoulved and call it fruad but they have to prove that with documentation.
What you have to decide is to be honest or not.
You know it was not your and it was a mistake but you still cashed it. You went on vaction with no expectations of getting paid right?


Normally they would deduct it from future checks ,
But since you have left it is a bit trickier .
Your state labor board probably knows the answer for your state laws .
Contact them .


They shouldn't have to 'make' you pay it back, you should pay it back all on your own.

It just sounds like you're rationalizing keeping money that doesn't belong to you (you didn't earn).

You did state that you took "a week of unpaid vacation off of work" so you did not earn that check you were accidentally sent and have no right to keep it. It was your mistake in cashing it instead of returning it.

Yes, you are required to pay them back. Payroll errors happen. It sounds like they are being reasonable and trying to set up a payment plan for you to reimburse them. That is WAY nicer than most companies would do.

Let's be honest you know if you have a weeks vacation or not. You also knew that you took the time UNPAID and you probably figured "Hmmph chumps paid me vacation time I didn't even have!" at the time and now you're upset because they want their money back.

Set up a payment plan and offer them $10/week until it's paid off.

I was giving a verbal raise for 1 dollar I was told, when I got my check it was a 4 dollar raise now 6 months later they say it was a mistake and they want the difference now

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