Advice: What are my rights if my employer doesn’t pay me what I’m owed?

Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey.
Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey.

By Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey

Q: I have been working for my employer for three years and I have always received the correct pay, but this month I have received £50 less. What are my rights?

A: If you think your pay is wrong or you haven’t been paid, the best thing you can do is talk to your employer to find out why.

If you and your employer can’t agree on how much you should have been paid, you can challenge them.

You should act quickly - it’ll be much harder to get your money back after three months from the date the problem arose.

Check your payslip - You should start by checking your payslip, if you’ve got one. This will help you see how your pay’s been worked out. Check things like:

• whether you’ve been paid for the number of hours you’ve actually worked

• if you’ve been paid at the correct rate

• if you’ve been paid for overtime, commission or bonus

• whether you’ve been paid any sick pay, holiday pay or maternity pay that you were expecting

• if your employer has deducted any money that you weren’t expecting

If you’re an employee, you have the legal right to a payslip which shows how your pay has been worked out. If you don’t have a payslip, ask your employer.

If you’re classed as a worker, you can still ask your employer for a payslip or an explanation of how your pay has been worked out. However they don’t have to give it to you.

Speak to your employer - Try speaking informally to your employer if you’re having problems with your pay. You could also try speaking to your human resources or payroll department, if there is one.

Ask them to explain anything you don’t understand on your payslip or why you haven’t been paid. If you disagree with anything, explain why.

If your employer has made a genuine mistake, ask them to pay you the money you’re owed straight away. You shouldn’t have to wait until your next pay day.

If you’re paid by the hour, check that you’ve been paid for the number of hours you’ve worked in the time period your payslip covers.

Next steps - If you haven’t been paid for all the hours you’ve worked, get together evidence of your completed hours. If you haven’t got your own record of your hours, you could use things like old rotas, clocking in records or emails from your employer confirming your shifts. This will help you take steps to get what you’re owed.

If you’re not getting anywhere - If you need more help at any stage, you can get advice from your local Citizens Advice.

Step 1: Speak to a trade union - If you’re in a trade union, they might be able to negotiate with your employer for you. If you’re not in a union, find out if there’s one at your workplace that you can join. You might find details in your staff handbook, intranet or on noticeboards at work.

Step 2: Raise a grievance - Check if your employer has a formal grievance procedure you can use. Even if they haven’t, you can still raise a grievance - for example by writing a letter. Explain why you think you haven’t been paid enough and include copies of any evidence.

Step 3: Take your employer to a tribunal - Your last resort is to take your employer to a tribunal - think carefully before you go ahead, as it could be expensive and stressful. The deadline for this is three months less a day from when you should have been paid the money.

• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice – go to or call at: Citizens Advice Newtownabbey, Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day on 028 9085 2271 (Lunch 1:00 - 1:30pm), email advice is available at