RCW 49.48.210 defines “overpayment” as a payment of salaries or wages for a pay period that is greater than the amount earned for a pay period. This is the same definition Payroll Services has always followed. This is consistent with the Washington State Constitution Article VIII Section 5, “The credit of the state shall not, in any manner be given or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual, association, company or corporation”, which has been cited by the State Auditor’s Office when alleging overpayments. Retaining an overpayment may also violate the state ethics laws. It is not appropriate for the Employing Department to suggest that an employee who has been overpaid gets to keep the money. (Employing Departments do have the right to correct time report/leave reports which may reverse original pay-affecting results.) For these reasons it continues to be the policy of Payroll Services to aggressively recover overpayments as quickly as possible while working with employees and their departments. If the overpayment involves an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the recovery methods in the collective bargaining agreement should be followed.



  • Input time and leave before the published payroll deadlines each pay cycle.
  • Be sure to enter any unpaid leave as soon as possible. If you have questions regarding leave usage while out on an approved Leave of Absence, [LK1] please reach out to HRS Disability Services. An approved LoA does not automatically stop payment, action must be taken to ensure accurate pay.
  • Check your pay slips each pay cycle to ensure that the gross amount received is what is expected. If you have questions about the gross, please first reach out to your departmental payroll personnel[LK2] .

*Pay Slips are viewable in Workday 3 days before payday*


  • Review Workday delivered reports each pay cycle. Especially after any data changes have been processed to ensure the expected changes are seen.
  • Communicate and process terminations timely. These can be entered proactively.
  • If needed, supervisors/time approvers/HR partners have the ability to enter time and leave on behalf of employees.
  • Be aware of LWOP usage before university paid holidays. If an employee is not eligible for a paid holiday action must be taken to stop payment. 


Active Employees

If you have been overpaid, your department will contact you. If you find an overpayment before you have been reached out to, please contact the payroll personnel for your department[LK1]  as soon as you are aware. Do not wait for your department to contact you. Your department will explain the circumstances of the error, discuss the repayment process and get your written consent to deduct the overpayment from your future paycheck(s) until the amount has been repaid.

Other options for recovery of overpayments for active employees include bringing your physical pay check back in before it is deposited. Payroll can stop this check and re-issue you a new check for the amount you should have received. Regardless of how you received the original payment, you can also choose to write a check to WSU for the net amount of the overpayment. There is currently no option to pay online. If you choose to do this option, you will need to contact Payroll Services at overpayments@wsu.edu for the correct net amount.

Separated Employees

If you are a separated employee, your department will contact you about the overpayment. The only option for repaying an overpayment as a separated employee is to write a check back. There is currently no option to pay online. You will need to contact Payroll Services at overpayments@wsu.edu for the net amount. Payroll Services can also answer any questions about the process and how it will be reflected on your W2.

RCW 49.48.200 provides that any overpaid amount still outstanding at termination shall be deducted from the earnings of the final pay period which may lower the annual leave, sick leave and/or compensatory time payoff amount.

**At any point if Payroll Services does not hear from you regarding your overpayment a certified letter will be sent to you. If the overpayment is still not resolved, your overpayment will be sent to collections.

Crossing Tax Years

If an overpayment crosses tax years, the amount owed back to WSU will increase due to IRS regulations and tax reporting. The amount owed back will no longer be the net amount, instead it will be the gross amount less OASDI and Medicare taxes, plus any WSU contributions to retirement (if applicable). This could result in the amount owed being higher than the initial gross paid.

Payment plans are still an option for active employees, however, any deductions would come from the net amount after all other deductions.

WSU also cannot make adjustments for income tax withheld because the wages were income to the employee for the prior year. If you have questions regarding the reporting of repaid wages for tax purposes, please refer to IRS Publication 525 or a certified tax professional. WSU cannot give tax advice.

IRS Publication 15
IRS Publication 525

Overpayment Acknowledgement/Receipt

In an effort to reduce the number of overpayments WSU sees and gather data to help reach this goal, Central Payroll is asking that departments fill out and sign a form noting essential details about the overpayment and how it occurred. This will help ensure that departments are taking the necessary steps to prevent them in the future and allow us to determine where we can provide more support.

These forms will be sent out with our overpayment communications to departments moving forward.

Employee Overpayment Acknowledgement/Receipt