Automotive giant Honda has come under fire after it asked workers at one of its US factories to repay hundred of dollars in bonuses they received earlier this month, saying it overpaid many of the checks in error and now needs that extra money back.
The brazen reneging from the car manufacturer came on Tuesday, when staff at the Marysville Honda Motors Co. factory in Ohio – which employs thousands of workers – were sent a memo demanding they give back money from overpaid bonuses.
The amount of each overpayment is currently unclear, as it varies from person to person based on salary – but the bonuses in many cases amount to hundreds of dollars, and were dished out to thousands of workers at the Ohio plant.
After announcing the bonuses had been erroneously overpaid in the bulletin Tuesday, brass at the Japanese automaker wrote that workers would have just nine days to decide on how they will pay back the additional sums.
Staffers will have the option to deduct the money from future paychecks or bonuses, or pay the outstanding amount up front by cash or check.
Those who abstain from those options, the company said Tuesday, will have the excess deducted from their future bonuses by default.
Workers will have until September 22 to decide how to pay back the money – a hardship for many who are used to getting bonus payments and had not expected to give a portion back.
Some staffers at the plant – one of a dozen factories in the country that collectively produce over 5 million cars annually – have since questioned if the company is justified in collecting the overpayments, with one attorney saying Honda is justified in requesting the forced refunds.
Automotive giant Honda has come under fire after it asked workers at one of its US factories to repay hundred of dollars in bonuses they received earlier this month, saying it overpaid many of the checks in error and now needs that extra money back
The reneging from the car manufacturer came on Tuesday, when staff at the Marysville Honda Motors Co. factory in Central Ohio (pictured) were sent a memo demanding they give back money from overpaid bonuses. The plant currently employs thousands of workers
In a statement to DailyMail.com Sunday, brass at the popular auto retailer confirmed that they had dished out overpayments to several staffers last week, but would not specify how much those payments amounted to and how many were issued.
They added that managers are currently working to address the situation ‘to minimize any potential impact to our associates.’
‘Earlier this month Honda provided bonus payments to its associates, some of whom received overpayments,’ a Honda spokesperson conceded after being asked about the excess bonuses.
‘Issues related to compensation are a sensitive matter,’ the rep wrote in an email, adding that ‘we are working quickly on this item to minimize any potential impact to our associates.’
The spokesman added that since the matter was ‘a personnel issue,’ the company would not provide any further information related to this matter.’
The wife of one employee who received an excess bonus to the tune of several hundred of dollars told NBC4 that he owed Honda nearly 8 percent of his previously awarded bonus.
The woman spoke on condition of anonymity, out of fear he husband would be reprimanded for speaking out.
‘Not a lot of people can handle this kind of a hit,’ the wife of a Honda employee told the station, providing a copy of the memo her husband had received from his employer earlier in the week.
She added when her husband initially came home with the bonus check earlier in the month, she asked him if the amount seemed correct – to which she told her it did, citing that he had received more substantial bonueses from the company in the past.
‘I asked him that. I said, you know, ‘Was this… the highest check you’d ever gotten for a bonus check? [Did you think] that it seemed weird?’ And he said no, it wasn’t the highest he’d ever gotten.’
The memo, however, asserted that her husband owed back just shy of ten percent of his total bonus payment, which amounted to hundreds of dollars.
‘That’s, you know, a car payment. That’s half of our mortgage,’ the worker’s wife told NBC4 in an interview Friday where she explained the difficulty of paying back the sum, which the family, like so many others, had already accounted for.
‘That’s two, three weeks worth of groceries. That’s a lot of money for us.’
After announcing the bonuses had been erroneously overpaid in the bulletin Tuesday, brass at the Japanese automaker wrote that workers would have just nine days to decide on how they will pay back the additional sums
According to one attorney, Honda is legally within its right to request the overpaid wages back, adding that there is no recourse for the hundreds of affected workers and their wages.
‘Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which applies to all employers in the United States, it’s quite clear that overpayments of bonuses or wages can be recouped by the employer,’ Sarah Cole, a law professor at the Ohio State University, told NBC4.
Cole’s advised employees affected by the oversight to go through with the required repayments, and choose the option that best suits them.
‘Honda could pursue this in court,’ the attorney, who specialized in employment and labor law, said.
‘But of course, that would be very expensive for them to do and obviously not look very positive from a publicity standpoint.’
She added: ‘So I’m sure they’re hoping to have voluntary agreement with the employees that the employee just willingly repays the overpayment.’
According to Cole, the mistake of overpaying employees has no penalty, protecting brass at the car manufacturer despite it presenting a challenging situation to its workers, whom are non-unionized.
The company currently employs nearly 30,000 associates in the US alone.