How can I claim money owed to me by a previous employer?
It’s a drag when you leave a company that still owes you money, especially when you want to make a clean break and move on.
However, that doesn’t mean you should waive your money, even if it isn’t very much, just to save yourself trouble. Your first course of action is to talk to the company in question to see if you can reach an amicable conclusion before going down the legal route.
Reasons for non-payment
As a full time employee, there can be many reasons why you have not been paid up to date or have not received any paid leave, expenses or bonuses
Bear in mind that it is usually it is a systemic problem rather than malice or deceit on the part of your employer.
Typically, companies which say goodbye to an employee assume that everything has been tidied up and sorted out - by another department.
Sadly, the once you’re gone, you are out of sight and out of mind and the longer you leave your claim, the more of an outsider you will be – so act fast.
Using legal action may actually slow down procedures as your company seeks first to review its position. Do your maths, work out what you’re owed and write directly to your payroll department to find out your situation.
Most non-payment disputes revolve around the areas of bonuses and commissions.
Many companies operate bonus schemes with qualifying rules, for example, you have to have worked a certain amount of time or your department needed to reach certain figures.
These are not guaranteed bonuses and your employer is well within their rights to not pay you the money. Check the terms laid out in your contract
Commission payments are usually contractual and if your work involves you earning commission as a part of your salary, in some form of direct selling, then this is something that you are entitled to. What may be harder is proving that you were the person responsible for the sale, so hang onto any documentation.
The same goes for any work related expenses that are owed – documentation and receipts are vital to your case.
Getting your money
Generally, if you leave a company, for whatever reason, with salary, bonuses or expenses owing the first thing you need to sort out is exactly how much your are owed and why.
This may sound obvious but the clearer and more accurate you are, the easier it will be for your company to check and respond positively. Your muddled estimates will only seek to delay things.
Collect as much proof as possible; dates, figures and times that you worked the hours to the required satisfaction of all concerned. Send an email or letter detailing exactly what has not been paid to you and ask for the matter to be resolved within a reasonable timeframe.
You could send this communication to your line manager, department head, or someone in the HR team and ideally, precede your email or letter with a telephone call to the person you have written to.
Your dated letter or email, and the response - or lack of response from your company – will be valuable evidence if the matter does indeed end up in the courts.
If you’re getting nowhere, take your issue to the Citizens Information Board and see what they say about your situation.
There is a good chance your former employers will cough up at the first sign of legal action rather than risk their reputation – especially if you are totally in the right.