Asda worker

Source: Asda

Asda is claiming back overpayments made to staff when it got thousands of pay packets wrong in the change to a new IT system in March.

A briefing document to managers – seen by The Grocer – set a deadline of 28 May for staff to agree a repayment plan, which union GMB said was unfair since an employee may dispute any overpayment.

Not agreeing to a plan by the deadline would result in the money being taken in a lump sum from June wages, according to the document, which GMB said could amount to thousands being deducted.

The Grocer was the first to reveal the issues – which also resulted in thousands of workers being underpaid – on the first payday following Asda’s implementation of the new IT system.

The supermarket has said the number of pay queries is now broadly in line with before the implementation of the new system, having significantly fallen in April and in May’s pay run.

However, the briefing document, dated 13 May, shows Asda is still working through four types of overpayment errors, including payment for more holiday than staff were entitled to and duplicate payments for the same holiday period.

There was also a top-up payment that was intended to make up any shortfall resulting from the IT changeover but which in some cases was too much.

Staff overpaid by more than £30 had until 28 May to complete a repayment plan form to avoid the money being taken in one go.

“We’re saying that’s not fair,” said GMB union national officer Nadine Houghton. “What if the colleague doesn’t agree they’ve been overpaid and would like more evidence?

“Asda could end up deducting what could be in some cases thousands of pounds.”

An Asda spokesman said: “Asda employs over 150,000 colleagues and the vast majority have been paid as normal in each pay run following the move to a new HR system in March.

“We did have some issues in the March payroll and took proactive steps to ensure these colleagues were not underpaid by matching their pay to their previous month’s earnings.

“We continue to support colleagues with repayment plans of up to 12 months for those who were overpaid.”

Houghton said the IT issues were ultimately a result of Asda’s 2021 change of ownership. “TDR Capital own Asda now, and the reason they had to transition onto the new system is they were paying Walmart a lot of money to stay on the old one,” she said.

“If they had slowed the transitioning onto the new system down, we think some of this could have been avoided.”

Asda said TDR Capital was not involved in the day-to-day running of the business and had not been involved in the rollout of the new payroll system. The supermarket said the implementation of the new Asda systems following the change of ownership was costing the business more than £800m and therefore any suggestion it was cutting corners due cost was incorrect.