Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

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smooth5185
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Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by smooth5185 » Mon, 09 Mar 2020 9:37 pm

Hi All,

I need your help!
I'm very surprised, shocked and quite disappointed to hear so after almost 10 years in the company.

My previous company is asking me to repay my 2019 bonus.

To summarise my situation:

I’m living in Singapore since January 2019.
I signed my employee contract in November 2018.

In my contract I have a Salary section. In this section it is mentioned my fix salary amount and a variable salary amount: "a variable bonus of x$ which is to be determined on the basis of the Company and Employee’s performance.

It doesn’t mention anything about a future-published retroactive bonus policy (in contrast to some other sections, for example the Expenses section where it mentions that Reimbursement of expenses will be made in accordance with the Company’s expenses policy as may be amended from time to time).

There is another section 'Duties and responsibilities' where it is mentioned: The Employee will carry out all reasonable directions of his supervisor and any other person in authority within the Company, and will comply with the Company’s codes, rules, policies and procedures, as may be amended by the Company from time to time.

In April 2019 we have received a Global bonus policy document mentioning that the: bonus will be paid to only employees that are regularly employed on the bonus payday and that employees must not be on notice or garden leave to be entitled to a bonus payment on the bonus payday.

We were not required to sign this Global bonus policy.

On the 17th January 2020 I had a meeting with my manager and he announced me my entitled amount for my 2019 bonus.
I gave my resignation on the 20th January 2020.
The payment order were already submitted at that time and I have received the payment on the 31st January 2020.

The company is now asking me to repay my bonus or they will seek damages for any costs and expenses.

Any advice?

Thanks,
Sebastien
Last edited by smooth5185 on Tue, 10 Mar 2020 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PNGMK
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Re: Company asking to reimburse my Annual Bonus target

Post by PNGMK » Mon, 09 Mar 2020 10:46 pm

Anyone can sue for anything - whether it will even get to court is another matter.

You need the help of a solicitor to review all the documentation and determine if indeed the employer has a case and whether a Singapore court would entertain it. I would then ask the solicitor to write to your employer a letter setting out why you don't believe the bonus should be repaid.

In short it is not the duty of the court to fix 'mistakes in contracts' so that means your employer is going to have to come up with a very good reason for demanding the bonus back - saying it is a mistake means the employer has to show where the mistake occurred outside the contract and from what you've said here I don't see one.

If you don't want to pay for a solicitor now wait and see if they actually issue a writ. 1:100 they won't. If they do, definitely seek legal advice.
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Re: Company asking to reimburse my Annual Bonus target

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 09 Mar 2020 10:56 pm

PNGMK - I tend to differ. I been to MOM court numerous time over the past 15 years and I've also been to our own company lawyers before rewriting out own contracts for employees. The fact that the salient points were Global in nature means the contracts do not have to be amended nor do the addendum need to be signed in Singapore as long as it is a global (e.g., company wide) change. If the OP disagreed with it, he should have raised the point at that time in April.
In April 2019 we have received a Global bonus policy document mentioning that the: bonus will be paid to only employees that are regularly employed on the bonus payday and that employees must not be on notice or garden leave to be entitled to a bonus payment on the bonus payday.

We were not required to sign this Global bonus policy.

On the 17th January 2020 I had a meeting with my manager and he announced me my entitled amount for my 2019 bonus.
I gave my resignation on the 20th January 2020.
The one piece of data you didn't give us, and I think I know the reason why. When was the designated bonus paydate.

You screwed yourself and there is nothing you can do about it.

1) A global change does not have to be signed by the employees according to Singapore law
2) It is only paid to employees that are regularly employed (Not on notice or garden leave) If you resigned 3 days after the bonus was declared (this is NOT the bonus payment date) you would be on notice for at least one month and possibly up to three months(dependent on what is written in your contract). Therefore you would not be regularly employed but on Notice or garden leave.

You tried to screw the employer and ended up screwing yourself and rightly so. You can take it to either the MOM court (if you basic salary is less than 5K/mo) or you can take to a civil court but at the end of the day, you will have to repay the bonus and probably pay the employer's costs as well.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by PNGMK » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:30 am

Yes I wondered too about that bonus paydate SMS.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by smooth5185 » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:36 am

Hi Both, thanks for the quick reply!

Regarding the bonus paydate here the info:

In one email sent in October 2019 it says that the 2019 bonus pay out will be done on January 2020 payroll. The paydate of the payroll being the 20th of January 2020.

In one email sent in November 2019 it says that the 2019 bonus will be paid on the 31st January 2020.

In the Global bonus policy it says that 2019 Bonuses are being paid in the March 2020 payroll.

But also it doesn't mention anything about repayment of the bonus in the Global bonus policy, it says that the bonus should only be paid to employees that are regularly employed but I doesn't say that the employee has to repay the bonus if it has been paid during his notice period.

Thanks,
Sebastien

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by x9200 » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:37 am

I agree with SMS on the interpretation. This also seems to be a common practice in Singapore. But calling it screwing the employer (or the other way around) will purely depend on the nature of the bonus. Was this bonus paid based on the past year performance of OP or independent of the performance?

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by x9200 » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:40 am

smooth5185 wrote:
Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:36 am
But also it doesn't mention anything about repayment of the bonus in the Global bonus policy, it says that the bonus should only be paid to employees that are regularly employed but I doesn't say that the employee has to repay the bonus if it has been paid during his notice period.
This basically means your received money that didn't belong to you. If I sent you money by mistake or based on some wrong assumption this does not make you the owner of this money.

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by smooth5185 » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:45 am

The bonus is based on past year performance: 50% Company performance and 50 % Employee’s performance.

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by bgd » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 11:45 am

This has come up where I work. What happens if an employee resigns after bonus declaration but before receipt? The advice was why risk it, wait until it's in your account and then resign.

And it does seem that the employer specifically allows for such a scenario here

bonus will be paid to only employees that are regularly employed on the bonus payday and that employees must not be on notice or garden leave to be entitled to a bonus payment on the bonus payday.

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by PNGMK » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 11:53 am

bgd wrote:
Tue, 10 Mar 2020 11:45 am
This has come up where I work. What happens if an employee resigns after bonus declaration but before receipt? The advice was why risk it, wait until it's in your account and then resign.

And it does seem that the employer specifically allows for such a scenario here

bonus will be paid to only employees that are regularly employed on the bonus payday and that employees must not be on notice or garden leave to be entitled to a bonus payment on the bonus payday.
OP did get the money but it seems he was on notice at the time.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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PNGMK
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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by PNGMK » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 11:56 am

smooth5185 wrote:
Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:36 am
Hi Both, thanks for the quick reply!

Regarding the bonus paydate here the info:

In one email sent in October 2019 it says that the 2019 bonus pay out will be done on January 2020 payroll. The paydate of the payroll being the 20th of January 2020and you resigned the same day instead of the day after.

In one email sent in November 2019 it says that the 2019 bonus will be paid on the 31st January 2020which is 11 days AFTER your resignation.

In the Global bonus policy it says that 2019 Bonuses are being paid in the March 2020 payroll.did you not notice this at the time of resigning?

But also it doesn't mention anything about repayment of the bonus in the Global bonus policy, it says that the bonus should only be paid to employees that are regularly employedi.e. not on notice but I doesn't say that the employee has to repay the bonus if it has been paid during his notice period.

Thanks,
Sebastien
You've got some conflicting dates here. I suggest you seek legal advice. Unfortunately I think you have resigned too early (you should have waited til Feb 1 by my reading but you may be able to argue around it based on all the confusing dates.... (underlined). Also as the bonus is for performance in arrears then you may have another argument in your favor.
Last edited by PNGMK on Tue, 10 Mar 2020 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 11:57 am

smooth5185 wrote:
Tue, 10 Mar 2020 8:45 am
The bonus is based on past year performance: 50% Company performance and 50 % Employee’s performance.
But, according to what you have told us, it is only payable if the employee is a regularly employee (not on notice or garden leave) on the bonus paydate. If the Bonus paydate is a global paydate and the codicil stipulated the status of the employee at the time of the payout (even if it is movable as long as it's global and the date was communicated before you submitted your resignation - November 2019) the company is still within guidelines.

As has been indicated, you have money that isn't yours. You can take it to court to try to convince a judge it is yours, but based on the data we see here, you will probably lose and have to pay it back and if that happens, you will probably also have to pay court costs and possibly the employers legal costs as well.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by PNGMK » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 12:01 pm

OP - can your rescind your resignation? If so, then do do. Then resign.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by smooth5185 » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 12:09 pm

PNGMK wrote:
Tue, 10 Mar 2020 12:01 pm
OP - can your rescind your resignation? If so, then do do. Then resign.
I already quit the company. My last day was the 21st Feb.

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Re: Help my previous employer asking me to repay my annual bonus

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 10 Mar 2020 12:10 pm

PNGMK wrote:
Tue, 10 Mar 2020 12:01 pm
OP - can your rescind your resignation? If so, then do do. Then resign.
:-k Would that work? The employer doesn't have to agree to allow him to retract as it was willingly tendered and willing accepted. Has to be agreeable to both sides. Knowing what kind of employee they are dealing with, I can't see the employer agreeing to it. Not being facetious here, but curious.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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