Friday, 10 July 2009

Horrors, horrors and debt.

Isn't it annoying when a job you didn't particularly enjoy at the time continues to give you hassle even when you've left?

I haven't worked at the Little School of Horrors since April, but horrors indeed it is for entirely different reasons at the moment. After I left, despite the County Council being given the relevant paperwork regarding my end date, payslips continued to arrive at my door. I trusted the County Council to know when they were letting one member of staff go and hiring another - presumed I was being paid legitimately. Holiday pay, or payment in arrears, perhaps. It was only when I received another payslip at the end of June that I realised something wasn't quite right. Whereas arrears would cover April and May, June was out of the question. I cut the spending, alerted the relevant authorities and arrived at the sombre realisation that I'd have to pay back a months wages.

Except when the letter came through from the County Council earlier this week, I couldn't help but yell, loudly, "ERR, WHAT THE HELL? ARE THEY ON CRACK?" as I realised they were asking me to pay back not one, not two, but three months wages; coming in at nearly £2,000. The deadline? Two weeks from now.

Cue much stomping, yelling and RAH, BLAH, NAHing.

This lunchtime I called my manager at The Little School, who suggested I set up a payment plan to scatter the money going back. Which would be fine, if I actually had a salary and regular income. I don't, in fact the two and a half weeks of temp work I'm doing at the moment are my first since April. Then I rung the County Council, whose debt recovery manager listened to my rant before telling me yes, it was their fault but it was public money and would have to be paid back. My voice cracked. Oh, bugger. Tears abounded. She softened, told me to calm down; that there's nothing to get upset about. "That," I blubbed, "is easy to say when you don't have £2,000 of unnecessary debt as well as unemployment to contend with." She took down my details and said she'd talk to people to try and sort something out; and rang back 10 minutes later to tell me to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.

I understand it must be paid back. I have no gripes with paying back money that isn't legally mine. What I have a huge, mammoth, astronomical problem with is being put in this position in the first place. The way the County Council get away with just a "Eek, my bad. Sorry for the inconvenience. Can we have the money back now.", without a thought to what problems this causes to someone who can't find a full time job, let alone £300, £200 or even £100 a month in repayments. Maybe I should have questioned my pay, kept a better track on things. But that wasn't my job; and the County Council are notorious for letting things like this happen.

What a bloody debacle. I'm fighting it.

They're getting £10 a month, tops.

Edit: PS. Thanks to Keep Britain Tidy for putting a link to yesterday's post up on their opinion bit of the website.

PPS. Have a good weekend.

PPPS. Someone just put Friday chocolaty treats out in the Office Kitchen. I feel better now.

9 comments:

cynicalscribble said...

What a load of poo.

Don't quote me, but I don't think they can argue/disagree with you for paying a tenner a month.

As long as you don't refuse to pay it back, I think they have to accept what you offer.

roseski said...

Oh crap! That's like the day (Christmas Eve) The Bank decided without warning my student over-draft was no longer an over-draft; it was a £1500 loan, and they wanted it all paying back around about NOW. So... I did the same as you, involving a lot of crying.

In the end my Dad bailed me out and I owed the money to him. I'm still paying it back, £30 a month.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Cynical - I think you're on the right tracks there, I spoke to another teacher at the Little School who said she had a similar problem, and ended up paying them £50 a month.

Roseski - That's the badger. My parents would probably bail me out here as well, but if there's the option to spread the payments then I'd rather do that. Glad you cried a lot too - I felt a right willy crying to this woman on the phone earlier, but I couldn't help it. It's upsetting.

miss*H said...

I agree with cynicalscribble although I think that there wouln';t be much they could do about it if you refused to pay them back seeing as it was their mistake and you have left their employment.

All Mod Cons said...

I'm with cynical on this one. As far as I'm aware you can offer them whatever amount you can afford and they have to accept it as it was their error. Don't be bullied by them setting you a date for repayment. Stick to your guns! They wouldn't take you to court for it, it would cost them WAY more than £2k to go through the legal rubbish. It's not your responsibility to jump when it's their fuckup.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Don't hate me. But...

Do I understand correctly that they continued to send you checks, even after you left? If that's the case, did you go ahead and cash those checks and spend the money, even though you were no longer working there?

Methinks there's an 800 pound gorilla it the room.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

What a b*gger! I wonder how long they would have continued paying if you hadn't pointed out their error. They're totally inept. Don't let them browbeat you.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Miss H - No, I have to pay it back. It's not an option to not pay it, I'd get taken to court.

All Mod - yeah I'm just going to offer to send them a little bit each month, at least until I'm working full time anyway.

Unbearable - There's no gorilla here. As far as I knew, everything regarding my leaving date had been sent off and finalised. I assumed the other two payslips (money goes straight into my bank account) were either a) holiday pay (as when you work at a school, the clincher for most people is the paid holidays) or b) payment in arrears for my final month of work.

The long and the short of it is that you put trust in the County Council (your employer) to process the information they are sent. The County Council cited the issue on the repayment demand as "Overpayment of Salary due to Late leaver notification". But it wasn't late, the school manager sent all the forms to them on time; they just never bothered to process it. I flagged it up as soon as I realised something wasn't right. If I'd continued to receive payslips for a year and not said anything, then yes: there's your gorilla. I had no idea the other two payments weren't legit, neither did the school's account manager, who has continued to forward my payslips onto me at home for the past 3 months. The council have admitted being at fault here.

Around - That's exactly the question I posed to them. In fact, another teacher from the school called me and said they'd paid her too much in a salary despite assuring her that everything was as it should be. A year later they demanded thousands back, because they'd paid her a hundred quid more than they should every month. That's infinitely worse.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ah, well, that explains it. Jo, please accept my apologies for misunderstanding the circumstances. I wish I had a big stack of cash to send you. I'd put a big red ribbon on it.

 

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