What to do if you have been paid incorrectly
Incorrect pay remains a major problem amongst anaesthetic trainees in the UK.
The Association of Anaesthetists /RCoA 2018/2019 pay survey found that 55% of
trainees received inaccurate or late pay, with approximately a third of this group
suffering on multiple occasions . I have been the victim of this, having been
overpaid, underpaid and paid late (although never paid early!). So, what should you
do if you are paid incorrectly?
Check your payslip
If you think that you have been paid incorrectly, it is important
that you study your payslip to identify the cause of incorrect pay
as soon as possible. Causes of incorrect pay include:
- An incorrect tax code
- Incorrect pay banding
- Incorrect repayment of student loan
- Incorrect pension contribution
- Incorrect locum payment
It is important that you identify the cause of your incorrect pay,
as this will assist you in identifying what you need to do to rectify
it. If you are unsure how to interpret your payslip, please see
the ‘Knowing your payslip’ article from the June 2018 issue of
Anaesthesia News (371).
Who should I speak to?
Contact your payroll department to notify them of the error as
soon as possible. If you have been underpaid, this will give you
the best chance of receiving the money you are owed in a timely
manner. If you have been overpaid, don’t be tempted to stay
quiet. Failing to notify your employer of an overpayment could
be viewed as fraudulent, so honesty is the best policy!
You should also speak to an appropriate figure within your
department who has experience of dealing with payroll. They will
be able to take up the issue, and also offer support and advice.
If the error is related to taxation, this is likely to be due to an
incorrect (often emergency) tax code. In this instance, you should
speak to HMRC to correct this, who will notify your employer of
Timescale for payment/repayment
It is important to agree a clear time scale for payment of money
owed, or return of overpayment. An employer will typically wish
to pay any money owed to an employee on the next payday. If
the underpayment leaves you at risk of financial hardship, such as
missing rent or mortgage payments, communicate this to payroll
- it may be possible to arrange an earlier payment.
When an employee has been overpaid, trusts will recover
the amount owed by deduction of salary on the next payday.
If the amount owed is large, request that a repayment plan
be put in place, in which a smaller amount is deducted over
several months. When discussing repayment, remain calm and
professional – but do not allow yourself to be put in a position of
Make sure that you chase the payroll department regarding
errors in pay – a single phone call is rarely enough. Writing an
email to follow up any phone calls ensures that there is written
evidence of any discussions. If you feel that your concerns
are not being listened to, ask to speak to a member of payroll
management. If you are still unhappy with what is being
offered, seek advice and support from senior figures within your
department. External organisations, such as the Association of
Anaesthetists or BMA, are another useful source of support. If
you still do not think that you are being treated appropriately,
submit your grievances in writing to senior payroll management.
Many hospitals have a grievance procedure which should be
followed, so check first.
Elected Member Association of Anaesthetists Trainee Committee
ST7, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
- Association of Anaesthetists. Trainee pay issues survey: Association statement, 2019. https://anaesthetists.org/Home/Membership/Trainees/Trainee-pay-issues-survey-Association-statement (accessed 07.03.2020).