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Employer attempting to enforce debt recovery after nearly 6 mths

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Employer attempting to enforce debt recovery after nearly 6 mths

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LandillyLandilly Forumite
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Not sure if I’m posting in right category but hoping someone can help. I left a company almost 6 months ago now due to culture, gruelling hours and broken promises about geographical location. I was in a sales role and given guaranteed bonus during my first 6 months. In my contract it stated that the company reserved the right to recover this money should an employee leave within 18 mths. I left within 12 and made my reasons clear to my line manager, in writing and to HR. I was put on garden leave and during that time I put forward what I believed was a concrete case for non repayment, due to my situation becoming untenable. My health and family were being affected by the hours and stress. They responded to say they would look into it but despite me offering to attend a formal Face to face exit meeting/grievance hearing, I never heard another thing from them and then my employment ended and I moved on. Recently, out of the blue, just under 6 months after leaving, they have written to me to say they are enforcing the debt and seeking repayment. Their excuse for not contacting me before was Covid but when I first appealed, Covid wasn’t impacting anything much, so it’s a weak excuse. My question is, can they do this? Can they leave something hanging, ignore my request for an exit meeting Or formal appeal and then try and pursue the ‘debt’ almost 6 months later out of the blue? 

Replies

  • JCS1JCS1 Forumite
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    They have 6 years to pursue, so yes.
  • sharpe106sharpe106 Forumite
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    If they were all off on furlough then covid is a pretty good excuse. 

    Not quite sure how you could submit a concrete case for non repayment when it was clear you would have to repay it if you left.  You left they did not sack you.
  • MrsnMrsn Forumite
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    I’m sorry but as others have said it was very clear out to you that this would be repayable and I don’t think any sort of “defence” would likely to have been accepted even without COVID complications. They do also as has been said have 6 years to recover any monies they believe due and with the knowledge they would likely seek it I wouldn’t say that’s exactly out of the blue.
  • NothanksNothanks Forumite
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    Unfortunately yes, and due to your length of service your untenable work situation or their refusal to acknowledge a grievance is a separate issue which is legally not relevant. You’ve been treated crappily but not unlawfully I fear. Unless there is a clear link between your treatment and a protected characteristic. Again unfortunately you’re timed out for any tribunal claim even if they have acted in a discriminatory fashion.
    Union official.
    CiPD qualified.

    Anything I post is solely MY OPINION. It never constitutes legal, financial or collective bargaining advice. I may tell you based on information given how I might approach an employment dispute case, but you should always seek advice from your own Union representative. If you don't have one, get one!
  • steampoweredsteampowered Forumite
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    It doesn't sound like you have particularly good grounds to refuse this payment, if it is clearly due under the terms of the contract you signed.

    You might be able to resist repayment if you are able to demonstrate that the employer was in breach of your employment contract, but it isn't clear from your post what that breach might be.
  • TBagpussTBagpuss Forumite
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    As others have said,. they can pursue the debt for up to 6 years, so the 6 month delay doesn't prevent them doing so.
    However, you could write back raising the concern that you had written to them about this and were told that they would look into it, but you have not had anything back to suggest that they have done so or have considered your grievances, and that you had, in the circumstances and in light of the fact that they had not requested the funds, had understood that they had accepted that that repayment would not be appropriate.

    It may not get you anywhere but does flag up the lack of action on their part You can also ask for time to pay, if you need it, to repay in installments rather than in a single lump sum. 
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • MarconMarcon Forumite
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    Landilly said:
    Recently, out of the blue, just under 6 months after leaving, they have written to me to say they are enforcing the debt and seeking repayment. Their excuse for not contacting me before was Covid but when I first appealed, Covid wasn’t impacting anything much, so it’s a weak excuse. My question is, can they do this? Can they leave something hanging, ignore my request for an exit meeting Or formal appeal and then try and pursue the ‘debt’ almost 6 months later out of the blue? 
    Yes. You say you'd already made your reasons clear in writing, so I can't imagine that a face to face exit meeting was high on their list of priorities. You knew you'd have to repay the money, so they are wholly entitled to take steps to ensure you do. 
  • jonnygee2jonnygee2 Forumite
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    I was in a sales role and given guaranteed bonus during my first 6 months. In my contract it stated that the company reserved the right to recover this money should an employee leave within 18 mths. I left within 12 

    That's all we need to know, really. The contract you signed says you owe the money back to them. You should have already returned it really, without them needing to chase you.

    There's nothing you can really do about the other stuff. There's no grounds for any kind of formal action. It doesn't affect the contractual obligation to repay the money either. 

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