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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 22625
Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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If a government department has been making an error in my pay

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If a government department has been making an error in my pay since June 16 th 2003 1 Do they have to pay the wages missed 2 How far back do they have to go..... I have been employed by a government department since june 16 2003. I expected them to pay me at the correct rate so didn't really examine the payslips until recently when the words "ungraded step 9" started to appear and I realised that something must be wrong. (I've been teaching over 20years) I spoke to our payroll administrator and he made me complete a form for salary assessment. This form came back indicating what my pay should have been and showing that there were errors to the amount of around $3145 per year but only went back to 10 june 2006. I was wondering if they pay us incorrectly 1 do they have to correct our pay 2 How far back should the corrections be made


christhelawyer :

Hi Welcome to JustAnswer. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear

christhelawyer :

This may be an error they are going to have to consider carefully in terms of fairness. You may be aware of the Air New Zealand case where a worker overpaid did not have to repay because he changed his position in reliance on the payslips being correct.

christhelawyer :

The note of the case says

christhelawyer :

*Foai v Air New Zealand Ltd [2012] NZEmpC 57 [Judge Ford, 4 April 2012] -


Successful challenge. Plaintiff overpaid by defendant for 16 months. Defendant made claim in restitution for repayment. Plaintiff queried his pay on several occasions but overpayments were not corrected. Court held that defendant had not made out a mistake of fact needed for its claim of unjust enrichment to succeed. In addition, both defences advanced by the plaintiff successful. Equitable defence of change of position succeeds as the plaintiff, in good faith, changed his position in a way that would be inequitable to now order repayment. And plaintiff's s 94B Judicature Act 1908 defence succeeds because plaintiff, in good faith, altered his position in reliance on the validity of the payments and, having regard to the equities, it would be inequitable to compel repayment.(PDF 264KB)

christhelawyer :

This may well apply to your situation

Customer:

this doesn't really help me

Customer:

I am disappointed to say this but your answer doesn' really help me.. I have not been overpaid I have been underpaid. (about 3145 per year since 2003.)

christhelawyer :

I am sorry, I assumed that it was overpayment

christhelawyer :

That is an entirely different matter of course.

christhelawyer :

Unfortunately the Limitation Act 2010 restricts claims to the last 6 years, and I expect that is why they have just gone back to 2006.

christhelawyer :

However you can claim for interest on the arrears as well, and possibly some compensation on top for the error

Customer:

I am sorry to say this answer doesn't really help me. I have not been overpaid I have been underpaid as somehow my grading was listed incorrectly when I changed schools in June 2003. I asked for my grading to be checked but when they checked it and found errors they only went back to june 2007 (not to june 2003)

Customer:

Thankyou Chris

Customer:

Sorry to repeat myself... I didn't realise that the information was going to you before I pushed send ...This is much more helpful

Customer:

Many Thanks

Customer:

M

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