What is the law regarding paying back overpaid wages?

I am scheduled to work for 6 hours/day which I have waived my meal break. I just found out that when I have punched out after 6 hours of work, state law forces my employer to pay me an extra 1 hour even if I go 1 minute past my 6 hours. This has been going on since the beginning of the year and now HR is telling me that the company might require me to pay backall those extra hours. I noticed a slight increase in my paycheck 9 months ago and thought that I got a pay increase. Can they force me to return the money?

Asked on September 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Any accidental overpayment of wages can be required to be paid back by a worker. This is because such wages were not rightfully earned, so allowing an employee to keep them would constitutet an "unjust enrichment". Think about it, had you been mistakenly underpaid, your employer would owe you.

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