Signing Bonus Clawback
January 27, 2023 12:30 PM   Subscribe

My job gave a signing bonus, with the stipulation that if I voluntarily separated within two years, "the full amount of the bonus will be deducted from your last paycheck." The bonus was larger than my bi-weekly salary. Am I on the hook for the portion above the last paycheck? Illinois jurisdiction.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Depends what size hook you're talking about...

Are you legally obliged to pay it back: Maybe, but there's obviously an argument that they worded the contract badly so only up to the amount of your bi-weekly pay.
Are they going to want you to pay it back: almost certainly.
posted by tiamat at 12:34 PM on January 27

Just as a point of anecdata, I had that stipulation at my last job, and when I left before that period, I wasn't docked at all. Nobody brought it up, I didn't say anything, and nothing happened.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 12:36 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]

It's also possible that they'd take it out of your accrued vacation if they have a policy for paying that out as well, so that's something to look into. I suspect you'd need a close reading of your employment contract and possibly the advice of an employment lawyer to say for sure what your legal obligations are.
posted by Aleyn at 1:32 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

Google around about the Illinois Wage Payment Act - it is pretty worker-friendly and contains some nasty penalties for employers that run afoul of the rules. If this is a close call or ambiguous under that law, there is a chance your employer will let it go because of potential exposure to the penalties. Section 115/9 governing deductions from final pay looks potentially relevant. Also, did you sign anything containing this clawback idea, or is it just something they said? If there is no documentation of this idea, that's another point in your favor.
posted by Mid at 2:54 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

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