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This section of the site will try to give you some advice on how to resolve an issue with your pay. Every employer and every situation is different, so some of this may not apply to you. But we hope some of the suggestions will suggest a way forward.
Have you contacted your union?
If you’re a member of a union, get in touch with them. They may be able to provide you with advice and, if necessary, legal representation. They may also know your employer and have experience of resolving issues with them.

Also, if you do need legal representation later on, it’s important to involve your union from the beginning.

Do you need further advice?
Although we try to give some basic guidance in response to your answers pay can be a complicated issue and every situation is different. It is common for people to remain unsure of where they stand and need some extra help.

If ‘yes, I’d like to look for more help’…

More online guidance can be found on the government website and the Citizen Advice site.

If you need in person advice your local Citizen’s Advice is a good starting point. You can find out where it is here.

You can also look for advice organisations through Advice UK or Advice Local.

You may also want to look for a solicitor. The Law Society can help you find one in your area.

Since Legal Aid is generally not available for issues with pay, you will need to think about how a solicitor will be paid. It is worth checking your household and other insurance; a surprising number of policies include legal assistance with employment. Many solicitors will also offer a free appointment to discuss whether they can help.

Have you spoken to your employer about the issue?
It is often worth having a word with your employer, before doing anything else.

Many issues with pay happen through accident or mistake. Often this can be fixed by speaking to your employer and asking them to fix it. Even if you suspect your employer is a nasty piece of work who will not cooperate or put things right, it is worth trying this first. In general, you can start ‘nice’ and become more aggressive later. It is hard to do this the other way around.

For example, if you speak politely to your employer about your pay, starting with the assumption that it is a mistake that they will fix, this may solve the problem. If it doesn’t, you can always threaten legal action later on. But, if you begin with the legal threats, you will probably have caused some damage to your relationship with your employer, even if it does get your pay sorted out.

Tips for raising matters informally:
  • Work out who you should be speaking to. It may be your line manager, supervisor or someone from Human Resources / Payroll. If you’re not sure, that can be a good place to start the conversation; by asking ‘Who should I speak to about this issue?’
  • Try to start from an optimistic stance. Give your employer the benefit of the doubt and assume that any issue simply a mistake. Even if you suspect otherwise, give them the chance to prove you wrong.
  • Think about what you need to raise and how you’re going to raise it. It may be useful to cut and paste some of the calculations from this site into an email or letter.
  • Keep a record of what you’ve done. If you send an email or letter, make sure you keep a copy. If you have an important conversation or phone call, take a note.
Have you raised a formal grievance?
This is generally the next stage after speaking to your employer informally. Many employers will have a grievance procedure that you can follow. If yours does not, you can write a letter headed ‘Formal Grievance’ to your manager, HR or whomever seems most appropriate.

If you have not been able to sort things out informally, a more formal grievance may convince your employer that you are serious and that you will not be put off. It may also mean that your complaint is considered by someone new, who may be more sympathetic or just understand your rights better.

A formal grievance may lead to a meeting between you and your employer to discuss your complaint. If you are not happy with the outcome of that meeting, you should be allowed to appeal.


Do you want to complain to HMRC?
(Only applies to National Minimum Wage Issues — do not show in other cases)

If your employer has not paid you the National Minimum Wage, you can complain to HM Revenue and Customs. They will investigate your complaint and, if they agree with it, order your employer to pay you the NMW.

You can complain online or by letter to:

HM Revenue and Customs - National Minimum Wage enquiries
Freepost PHQ1
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE98 1ZH
United Kingdom

The main limitation on a complaint to HMRC is that it will ONLY deal with a National Minimum Wage issue. If there are other problems with your pay, this will not address them.

It is also not the same as bringing a claim in the employment tribunal. In a tribunal claim, you are bringing the case, which will be decided on by the tribunal. In a HMRC complaint, it is HMRC who investigate and decide the outcome. This has benefits; in particular that you do not have to run the case yourself. But it also means that you will have less control over what happens.

Complaining to HMRC will also not change the time limits for bringing a employment tribunal claim.

Do you want to consider bringing an employment tribunal claim?
Ultimately, if you are not happy with the way your employer has dealt with your issue, you can present a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Bringing a tribunal claim is a serious step and should not be under taken lightly. On the other hand, if you cannot sort out your pay issue with your employer, the Employment Tribunal offers an independent judicial body who can resolve the dispute.

Have you started Early Conciliation?
Before you present a claim to the Employment Tribunal you must notify ACAS to begin the process of Early Conciliation. If you do not do so your claim will be rejected.

You make your notification through a short online form.

Early Conciliation is a process where an ACAS Conciliator will contact you and your employer to hear about your dispute and see if it can be settled by agreement. If you reach a deal through this process, ACAS will help you arrange a legally binding agreement.

Neither party is required to settle or to participate in the process once it starts. But it can be a good opportunity to see if things can be sorted out. In particular, the fact that it is the final step before bringing a claim to the tribunal can focus your employer’s mind and encourage them to get things sorted out.

It is important to remember that ACAS is not on anyone’s side. They act as a neutral facilitator. They are not lawyers and will not be able to give you legal advice.

The Early Conciliation period will generally last for a few weeks to a month, although it can end much sooner if it quickly becomes apparent that the parties are not going to agree.

Tips for Early Conciliation:
  • Although the form does not require any detail of your complaint, ACAS will want you to explain what has happened so that they can discuss it with your employer. It can be useful to prepare a short note or a few bullet points setting out the key points.
  • ACAS is also likely to ask you what you want. It is useful to have in mind your opening offer and your bottom line before you start.
  • It is important to make sure you start Early Conciliation against the right person / organisation (i.e. the person / organisation who employed you). Often this is obvious, but if there are multiple people / organisations involved and you are not sure, it is better to start Early Conciliation against anyone who might have employed you.
  • It is not, however, necessary to identify everyone involved in your complaint individually. If you are not sure if Acme Ltd or Bill Smith employed you, start Early Conciliation against them both. But if you know Acme Ltd employed you and Bill Smith was your manager, start Early Conciliation against Acme Ltd only.
Early Conciliation has ended without a deal and I want to proceed to the tribunal
To start an Employment Tribunal claim, you must fill out a claim form. This can be done online:

Most of the form is relatively straightforward and asks for information about you, your employer and your hours / pay.

The most difficult sections are likely to be box 8, which asks for the background and detail of your claim, and box 9, which asks what compensation / remedy you are seeking.

The background and detail of your claim should be a summary of what has happened with your pay, in the order that it happened. It does not need to be very long or to include every detail, but at the same time it should say enough that someone who is not familiar with you or your situation can understand what is going on.

The compensation / remedy you are seeking should be an account of the money you are claiming. Here you do not need to explain what has happened (this should already have been made clear in box 8). Just set out the calculations and the final figure. It may be useful to cut and past some of the calculations from this site into the box. TIME LIMIT WARNING

If you think you might want to take your employer to the Employment Tribunal, it is important to bear in mind that there are strict time limits. If you present your case to the tribunal late, it will almost certainly be rejected, unless there are exceptional circumstances to explain that failure.

The simplest rule of thumb is that you have three months less one day from the point your employer fails to pay you to start Early Conciliation — which is the first step before bringing a claim.

After ACAS notifies you that Early Conciliation has ended, you will have at least a month to present your claim to the Employment Tribunal (provided you started the ACAS process in time).

If there have been a series of deductions from your wages time starts running from the last in that series. So if the same deduction has been made for a number of months, time will run from the last month.