Auto giant Honda has come under fire after it asked workers at one of its U.S. factories to return hundreds of dollars in bonuses they received earlier this month, saying it had mistakenly overpaid many of the checks and now needs to return the extra money.
In a brazen rejection of the automaker, Marysville Honda Motors Co. announced Tuesday. in the factory Ohio – which employs thousands of workers – sent a memorandum demanding a refund of bonuses already paid.
The amount of each overpayment is currently uncertain because it varies from person to person depending on salary — but the awards are in many cases hundreds of dollars and are distributed among thousands of workers at the Ohio plant.
After announcing in a bulletin on Tuesday that bonuses had been mistakenly overpaid, the Japanese automaker wrote that workers will have just nine days to decide how to repay the extra amounts.
Employees will have the option of deducting the money from future wages or bonuses, or prepaying the outstanding amount by cash or check.
Those who opt out of those options, the company said Tuesday, will have the excess deducted from their options future bonuses by default.
Employees have until Sept. 22 to decide how to repay the money — a challenge for many who are used to receiving bonus payments and don’t expect to pay some back.
Some workers at the plant – one of a dozen factories in the country that together produce more than 5 million vehicles a year – have since questioned whether the company was justified in collecting the overpayments, while a lawyer said Honda was justified in demanding a mandatory recall.
Auto giant Honda has come under fire after it asked workers at one of its US factories to return hundreds of dollars in bonuses they received earlier this month, saying it had mistakenly overpaid many of the checks and now needs to refund the extra money.
A waiver from the automaker on Tuesday, Marysville Honda Motors Co. A memo was sent to the Central Ohio factory (pictured) demanding that they refund any bonuses already paid. The factory currently employs thousands of workers
In a statement to DailyMail.com on Sunday, brass at the popular auto retailer confirmed they had overpaid several employees last week, but did not say how much the payments were or how many had been issued.
They added that managers are currently working to resolve the situation to “minimize the potential impact on our staff”.
“Earlier this month, Honda provided bonus payments to its partners, some of whom have already received payments,” a Honda spokesperson admitted when asked about the bonuses.
“Compensation matters are a sensitive matter,” the representative wrote in an email, adding that “we are working quickly on this matter to minimize any potential impact to our partners.”
The spokesman added that the company would not provide further information on the matter as it was a “personnel issue”.
The wife of an employee who received a bonus of more than a few hundred dollars told NBC4 that she owes Honda about 8 percent of her previous bonus.
The woman spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing that her husband will reprimand her for speaking out.
“Not many people can handle a blow like that,” the Honda employee’s wife told the station, providing a copy of a memo her husband received from his employer earlier in the week.
She added that when her husband came home with her bonus check earlier in the month, she asked if the amount looked correct — which she said it did, citing that she had received more substantial bonuses from the company in the past.
I asked him that. I said, you know, ‘That was the highest check you’ve ever won for a… bonus check? [Did you think] did that look weird?’ And he said, no, it wasn’t the highest he’d ever been.
However, the memo alleges that her husband owes back just shy of ten percent of the total bonus payment, which is hundreds of dollars.
‘It’s a car payment, you know. It’s half of what we owe on our mortgage,” the worker’s wife told NBC4 in an interview Friday, explaining the difficulty of paying back what the family, like many others, already considered.
‘This is two to three weeks’ worth of food. This is a lot of money for us.”
After announcing in a bulletin on Tuesday that bonuses had been mistakenly overpaid, the Japanese automaker wrote that workers have just nine days to decide how to repay the extra amounts.
Honda is legally entitled to claim back wages already paid, a lawyer said, adding that there is no claim for the hundreds of affected workers and their wages.
“Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which applies to all employers in the United States, bonuses or overpayments of wages are recoverable by an employer,” Ohio State University law professor Sarah Cole told NBC4.
Cole advised employees affected by the oversight to make the required payments and choose what works best for them.
“Honda can pursue this in court,” said a lawyer specializing in employment and labor law.
“But of course it would be very expensive for them to do that and obviously it wouldn’t look very positive from a publicity standpoint.”
He added: “So I’m sure they’re hoping for a voluntary agreement with the workers so that the worker will willingly pay the overpayment.”
There are no penalties for the mistake of overpaying workers, according to Cole, which protects brass at the automaker even as it presents a difficult situation for its non-union workers.
The company currently employs about 30,000 people in the United States alone.
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