The SNCF is demanding two years’ salary from a former railway worker, employed for eight years as an “electrical products technical referent”. Or around 38,000 euros. This sum is equivalent to the salaries that the railway company had paid him, between August 2020 and September 2022. However, during these two years, he no longer worked at SNCF. The 33-year-old young man was placed on leave, with the agreement of his employer, to resume his studies – he obtained a degree in science, technology and health in October 2023. The agreement provides for him to self-finance his training, costed at 15,000 euros, according to Le Parisien.

At the end of September 2020, he received his salary of 1,671 euros in his account by mistake. The former railway worker warns his former boss who assures him that management would “realize it”. However, the student continues to receive his salary each month. And this for two years. It was not until October 2022 that SNCF management reacted. On February 16, 2023, the ex-employee received a letter asking him to reimburse all of his employees “unduly” received, i.e. approximately 38,000 euros. He has the choice of doing it by check or spreading his repayments over nine installments of just under 4,200 euros.

The former railway worker asked the SNCF for a more flexible spread which was refused by the railway company. At the end of August 2023, the SNCF assigned him to the industrial tribunal. The hearing would be scheduled for next October. In the meantime, the former railway worker claims to have made several transfers of 200 euros to the SNCF and “doing odd jobs” to pay off his debt. “I deliver with Uber Eats to earn money alongside my studies,” explains the student who “hopes to find an amicable solution with the SNCF.”

What the law says ? Despite its error, is SNCF entitled to demand reimbursement from its ex-employee? The employer “can recover the sums it has unduly paid to you, within a specific period”. “If this deadline is not respected, the employer can no longer claim the remuneration which was unduly paid to you”, we can read on the website. The employer has a period of four years to recover the sums owed, from the moment she notified him that he owed her money. Beyond that, she can no longer claim it.

The employee can send his employer a request for a free discount, citing his resource situation, for example. The company or administration can accept or refuse it. In the second case, the employee must refer the matter to the administrative court. In the case of the former railway worker, the SNCF took the lead.