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I worked for four days for a local employment agency and they haven't paid me. It's been ages since I did the work and in spite of numerous phone calls and visits, they've still made no effort to pay me.

I'm seriously considering taking them to the small claims court because they seem determined not to pay. Is this the way forward or should I be doing something else?


Not paying your wages is called an unauthorised deduction from wages and you can try to recover this money either through the Employment Tribunal (within 90 days of the money not being paid) or through the courts (within six years). But you would be advised to try negotiating with your employer first, because either of the other methods are likely to be time consuming and stressful.

As talking to the company hasn't worked, your next step should be to write a formal letter. Address the letter to the 'Director of Human Resources' and state that it is a step one formal grievance letter. Make sure you keep a copy and send the letter by recorded delivery. This will cost a bit more, but you'll have proof of posting and will know it has been received.

There are circumstances where your employer can deduct money from your pay, for example, if there has been an overpayment of wages or the cash register doesn't balance at the end of the day. To do this legally, your employer needs to inform you before they take the money. In the case of an overpayment of wages, a repayment period would normally be negotiated on an individual basis, while other circumstances are normally covered in your contract. Simply not to pay is a breach of contract.

For more information about this area, you may want to contact Acas or call their helpline on 08457 474747 to discuss the way forward. If you intend to take action through the Employment Tribunal or the courts, we would suggest you contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for help.

Updated: 05/09/2012

Question answered by CAB

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