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If your employer hasn’t paid you what they owe you

This advice applies to Scotland

Your employer should pay you on time for work you’ve done - they should pay you on your agreed pay day. You can challenge your employer if:

  • they haven’t paid your wages
  • they’ve underpaid you
  • they’ve deducted some or all of your wages - and you don’t agree with their reason

If you have a payslip, you can check it to help you work out exactly what the problem is. You should talk to your employer to find out why they haven’t paid you what you expected. If they’ve made a mistake, ask them to pay you straight away. You shouldn’t have to wait until your next pay day.

If your employer owes you pay and talking to them doesn't solve the problem, you can take legal action against them.

If you’ve left a job

Your final pay will usually be different from your normal pay. You should check what you can do about getting paid when you leave a job.

If you run a business and a client hasn’t paid you

Check your contract terms to see what they agreed to. You can then decide whether to make a claim using the simple procedure.

If your employer has disappeared or gone out of business

You can get advice on getting paid if your employer goes out of business or disappears.

If your employer hasn’t paid your wages

You should talk to your employer straight away. You can talk to your payroll department if you have one, or whoever pays your wages.

You can check how to talk to your employer about a problem.

If the problem happened recently, it’s usually best to carry on working while you try and get your employer to pay you. If you refuse to work, you might be breaking your contract, so your employer might dismiss you.

If your employer hasn’t paid you for a while

Your employer might be having money problems - they might never pay you if:

  • they won’t tell you why they haven’t paid you
  • they won’t tell you when they plan to pay you
  • other workers and employees haven’t been paid
  • the company hasn’t paid its suppliers for a while

You should think about whether you’d be better off leaving your job. If you resign, you can still take legal action against your employer. If the reason they haven’t paid is that they’re having money problems, it might be difficult to get any pay they owe you.

If you think your employer might never pay you and you’re considering resigning, you should talk to an adviser.

If your employer has underpaid you

You should check your payslip to find out what the problem is. You can also use the payslip to show your employer what you think they owe you. If you don’t have a payslip, ask your employer for one.

You should check your payslip for any underpayments. For example, check you’ve been paid for all the hours you’ve worked.

If you’re paid by the hour, your payslip should include the number of hours you’ve worked in the pay period covered by the payslip. Check to see what dates the payslip covers. Then check if your employer has paid you for all the hours you worked in that pay period.

You should also check you've been paid for everything you're entitled to - for example, you might be entitled to pay for:

  • time you were off work sick
  • training time
  • holidays
  • maternity or other parental leave

If you don’t understand your payslip, ask your employer to show you how they worked out your pay. You can ask your payroll department if you have one, or whoever arranges your pay.

If you haven’t been paid for all the hours you’ve worked

Tell your employer how many hours you think they owe you pay for.

If you have any proof of the hours you worked you should show them this. For example, you can show them clocking in records, timesheets or work rotas.

If you haven’t been paid for overtime

Check your contract to see if your employer should pay you for overtime. 

Even if your contract doesn’t say you’ll be paid for overtime, your employer shouldn’t use it as a way to get out of paying the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. Your average hourly pay rate should still be at least the legal minimum.

You can check what to do if you’re being paid less than National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

If you haven’t been paid sick pay

If you think you should have been paid sick pay, you can check if you can get sick pay and what to do if your employer won't pay it.

If you haven’t been paid for time you spent training

Check your contract to see if your employer should pay you for training time.

If you have to do training as part of your job it’s called ‘mandatory training’.

Even if your contract says you won’t be paid for mandatory training, your employer shouldn’t use it as a way to get out of paying the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. Your average hourly pay rate should still be at least the legal minimum.

You can check what to do if you’re being paid less than National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

If you haven’t been paid for holidays

If you think your employer should have paid you for holiday days you’ve taken, check if you can get paid holiday and what to do if your employer won't pay it.

If you haven’t been paid for maternity or parental leave

You should check what you’re entitled to if you think your employer owes you pay for:

  • maternity leave
  • paternity leave
  • adoption leave
  • shared parental leave

You might have a legal entitlement to a certain amount of pay, called ‘statutory pay’. You can check if you’re entitled to statutory pay for parental leave.

You should also check your contract to see if it gives you extra rights to pay, which is called ‘contractual pay’.

If your employer owes you statutory pay

You should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for advice on what to do next. You’ll need to contact HMRC within 6 months of the date you should have started getting statutory pay.

HMRC Statutory Payments Disputes Team
PT Operations
North East England
HMRC
BX9 1AN

Tel: 0300 322 9422

Textphone: 0300 200 3212

Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines - find out more about calling 030 numbers.

If your employer owes you contractual pay

Collect any evidence that shows they owe you pay, for example:

  • a copy of any relevant company policies - for example a family leave policy
  • your employment contract - if it mentions any extra pay that you haven’t been paid

If your employer has deducted money from your pay

You should check your payslip to find out what the problem is. You can also use the payslip to show your employer what you think they owe you. If you don’t have a payslip, ask your employer for one.

If you don’t understand your payslip, ask your employer to show you how they worked out your pay. You can ask your payroll department if you have one, or whoever arranges your pay.

Your employer might be allowed to take some money out of your pay.

They might deduct:

If your employer deducts for money they overpaid you

Your employer can deduct money they’ve overpaid you in previous weeks or months. If you don’t agree that they overpaid you, explain why and ask them to pay you what they owe you.

If you were overpaid but can’t afford the deductions, you could ask your employer if they’ll take smaller deductions over a longer time.

Talk to an adviser to find out what you can do if you either:

  • didn’t realise you’d been overpaid and you’ve spent the money
  • asked your employer about it at the time and they said it was the correct pay

If your employer deducts money you’ve cost them

If you’ve agreed in writing or it’s in your contract, your employer can make deductions for:

  • damaged property, for example to a company car

  • damaged stock 

  • missing money from the till, for example in a shop

  • the cost of a uniform 

Your employer should only deduct for these things if your contract says they can take the deduction, or you’ve agreed in writing that they can.

If your employer deducts money but you don’t think they should have, you should talk to an adviser. For example, if your contract says your employer can deduct money if you damage company property, but you don’t agree that the damage is your fault.

If you work in a shop, bar or restaurant

Your employer has to follow extra rules if they are deducting money to cover either missing money from the till or damaged stock.

 They can only deduct for those reasons if all of these are also true:

  • there’s a written agreement saying they can take money
  • they don’t take more than 10% of your pay before tax on each pay day that they deduct money
  • they started taking the money within 12 months of noticing the issue
  • they give you written details of the deduction on each pay day that they deduct money

If you think your employer has deducted pay they shouldn’t have

Check your contract and any written agreements you have to see if they’re allowed to deduct the pay. If you’re not sure how to check, you can get advice on how to check the terms of your employment contract.

You should also collect other evidence to support what you’re saying, if you have any. For example, if they’ve deducted pay because they overpaid you and you’ve agreed a plan to pay it back, show them the written agreement.

If you think the deduction takes your pay below the legal minimum wage, you can check if your pay matches the minimum wage on GOV.UK.

You can check what to do if you’re being paid less than National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

Getting any pay you’re owed

If your employer has made a mistake, they should fix it straight away by paying what they owe you. If you don’t think it’s a mistake, you should still talk to them to try and resolve the situation.

Ask your employer to pay you what they owe you

You should try talking to your employer first. Explain what you think the problem is and show them any evidence you have. If this is difficult for you, check how to talk to your employer about a problem.

If you’re a member of a Trade Union, you could ask your Trade Union representative for help and advice.

Raise a grievance with your employer

Check if your employer has a formal grievance procedure that you can use to complain. Even if they don’t, you can still try and get them to pay you what they owe you. You can check how to raise a grievance.

Check you’re being paid at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage

Most people who work should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage, or the National Living Wage if they’re aged 23 or older.

If your employer hasn’t paid your wages, they might be breaking the law as it’s taken your wages below National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.

If they’ve underpaid you, they might also have paid you less than the legal minimum.

You can check the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage and what to do if you're being paid less.

You might be able to take your employer to an employment tribunal and make a claim for unauthorised deduction from wages if you’re an employee or a worker - including an agency worker.

You might be an employee or worker even if your contract says you’re self-employed. If you’re not sure if you’re an employee or a worker, check your employment status.

The tribunal will decide if your employer owes you any wages or not.

The deadline for you to start the employment tribunal process is 3 months minus a day from when you should have been paid the money.

If your claim is for an underpayment and your employer also made underpayments up to 2 years before, you might be able to claim for those. This can be complicated - so if you want to claim for more than 1 underpayment you should talk to an adviser.

An employment tribunal claim should be a last resort, especially if you plan to carry on working for your employer.

Your employer shouldn’t dismiss you for making the employment tribunal claim, but it might make things difficult at work.

You can check what to do if you’re thinking of making a claim to an employment tribunal.

If you miss the employment tribunal deadline

You can usually make a claim for unpaid wages in court using the simple procedure. The court will decide if your employer owes you any pay. You can find out about using the simple procedure.

If you’re struggling with the cost of living

You can check how to get help with the cost of living.

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