One worker received a January pay cheque for just £14, as employers Thistle Healthcare Limited - which runs two care homes in Glasgow and four in Lanarkshire - clawed back money overpaid last year.
Thistle staff were paid double by mistake in July last year. But the decision to deduct the outstanding money last month left low paid staff struggling to cope with the post-Christmas bills.
The Evening Times understands around 90 of Thistle's estimated 500 staff are affected, with 20 seeking the help of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
One worker, who asked not to be named, said: "We knew we'd have to pay the money back and we have been trying to sort out a repayment schedule.
"But to take it all back in January, when everyone is skint after Christmas, is horrible.
"People have been turning up at CAB in Cambuslang in tears and many of us have needed help from the Trussell Trust food bank.
"I was paid £14 in January and that was only because of overtime payments for Christmas and New Year, otherwise my January salary would have been zero.
"The only thing that has stopped us walking out is our concern for the people we care for."
It is understood a change in the date monthly salaries are paid was to blame for the error.
A spokeswoman for Thistle Healthcare Limited said most employees had paid back the money, but added that "a small minority of individuals chose not to co-operate.
"They were written to in December advising them that if they did not take steps to agree a repayment plan, then action would be taken.
"In view of this, steps were taken by the company to retrieve the duplicate salary payment from the individuals concerned by way of deduction from the January salary."