Auto giant Honda has come under fire after it asked workers at one of its US factories to pay back hundreds of dollars in bonuses they received earlier this month.
The brazen departure from the automaker came Tuesday when employees at the Marysville Honda Motors Co. factory arrived Ohio – which employs thousands of workers – received a memo asking them to return money from overpaid bonuses.
The amount of each overpayment is unclear at this time because it varies from person to person based on salary — but the bonuses run into the hundreds of dollars in many cases and have been paid out to thousands of workers at the Ohio plant.
After announcing that bonuses had been erroneously overpaid in Tuesday’s Bulletin, the Japanese automaker’s management wrote that workers had just nine days to decide how to repay the additional sums.
Employees have the option to deduct the money from future paychecks or bonuses, or to pay the outstanding balance in advance by cash or check.
Those who forgo those options will have the excess deducted from theirs, the company said on Tuesday future bonuses by default.
Workers have until September 22 to decide how to pay back the money – a hardship for many who are used to bonus payments and didn’t expect to give some back.
Some employees at the plant – one of a dozen factories in the country that collectively produce over 5 million cars a year – have since questioned whether the company had the right to collect the overpayments, with a lawyer saying Honda was entitled to the forced refunds to demand.
Auto giant Honda has come under fire after it asked workers at one of its US factories to pay back hundreds of dollars in bonuses they received earlier this month
The resignation from the automaker came Tuesday when employees at the Marysville Honda Motors Co. factory in central Ohio (pictured) were sent a memo asking them to return money from overpaid bonuses. The plant currently employs thousands of workers
In a statement to DailyMail.com on Sunday, management at the popular car dealership confirmed it had paid out overpayments to several employees last week, but declined to say how much those payments were and how many were issued.
They added that managers are currently working to address the situation “to minimize any potential impact on our employees.”
“Earlier this month, Honda made bonus payments to its employees, some of whom received overpayments,” admitted a Honda spokesman after being asked about the excess bonuses.
“Questions related to compensation are a sensitive matter,” the representative wrote in an email, adding that “we are working quickly on this point to minimize any potential impact on our employees.”
The spokesman added that the company will not provide any further information on the matter as it is a personnel matter.’
The wife of an employee who received a hundreds of dollars in excess bonus told NBC4 that he owed Honda nearly 8 percent of his previously awarded bonus.
The woman spoke on condition of anonymity for fear her husband would be reprimanded if he spoke.
“Not many people can take a hit like that,” the wife of a Honda employee told the station, presenting a copy of the memo her husband received from his employer earlier in the week.
She added that when her husband first came home with the bonus check earlier this month, she asked him if the amount was correct – to which she said he had received larger bonuses from the company in the past.
I asked him that. I said, “Was that… the biggest check you’ve ever gotten for a bonus check?” [Did you think] that it looked weird?’ And he said no, it wasn’t the best he’d ever had.’
However, the memo claimed that her husband owed back just under 10 percent of his total bonus payment, which totaled hundreds of dollars.
‘It’s, you know, a car payment. That’s half of our mortgage,” the worker’s wife said in an interview with NBC4 on Friday, where she explained the difficulty of paying back the sum that the family, like so many others, had already settled.
That’s two or three weeks’ worth of groceries. That’s a lot of money for us.”
After announcing that bonuses had been erroneously overpaid in Tuesday’s Bulletin, the Japanese automaker’s management wrote that workers had just nine days to decide how to repay the additional sums
According to a lawyer, Honda has a legal right to reclaim the overpaid wages, adding that there is no legal recourse for the hundreds of workers affected and their wages.
“Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which applies to all employers in the United States, it’s pretty clear that overpayments of bonuses or wages can be reclaimed by the employer,” Sarah Cole, a law professor at Ohio State University, told NBC4.
Cole’s advised employees affected by the oversight to make the necessary repayments and choose the option that best suits them.
“Honda could enforce that in court,” said the lawyer specializing in labor and employment law.
“But obviously that would be very expensive for them and obviously doesn’t look very positive from a public relations standpoint.”
She added, “I’m sure they’re hoping for a voluntary agreement with the employees that the employee will just willingly pay back the overpayment.”
According to Cole, the mistake of overpaying employees has no penalty and protects the automaker’s executive, even though it poses a challenging situation for its non-union workers.
The company currently employs nearly 30,000 people in the US alone.
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