Dear Anne, 

 I’m very excited about a job opportunity in a company that will take me to a larger city with great new responsibilities. I know the company will help me relocate, but I’m not sure how to get the best moving reimbursement that I can. I have a house, a cat, and two cars, as well as a husband and kiddos. Any thoughts on how to get the most out of these benefits?

It’s tough to move, and it can be expensive, especially when you’ve amassed a bundle of stuff, a family, and more. Several resources I checked with said the average cost to relocate a person ranges from $50,000 to over $90,000. Many companies that JobFinders works with offer a capped rate, often a bit lower than $50,000.

Moving is so much more than packing up and leaving town. People often have houses to sell and new ones to buy (or rent) in the new locale. There are daycares and schools to locate, spouses who need to find work, and time involved in securing doctors, dentists, hair dressers, and everything else. Depending on the size of the company moving you, the benefits may be flexible, but just as in salary talk, you must negotiate to get what you need. Here are a couple of tips:

  • Find out what the company policy is on relocation and study it.
  • Ask who in the company has recently relocated, call them, and ask about their experience.
  • Make a plan. Be prepared to show your employer how meeting your “non-reimbursable needs” will benefit the company.

Your employer can’t reimburse you directly for everything during your move, but they may consider a signing bonus. Remember that the company chose you and needs you to move — so you may have a slight upper hand. Get creative during your discussions on what you need for relocation expense reimbursement. Just beware of going overboard. Asking the employer to purchase new furniture for your home should get you some odd looks, at the very least. (It could also get your job offer rescinded.) Moving’s not easy. You need to be prepared and creative, but everything is negotiable.

 

Dear Anne,

I have an employee who struggles with mental illness. His supervisor has allowed him to work a flexible schedule, but it’s interrupting the office workflow. He was out on FMLA for the full amount of time, and since he returned, he’s been coming in late and leaving early. He’s already missed nine days of work. As a business owner, I feel a need to replace him. What would you do?

In my opinion, if the employee has taken all his FMLA and is back at work but still missing a ton of time on the job, you have cause to dismiss him. I recently read an article on FindLaw, a website for legal professionals, that was similar to your situation. The terminated employee sued, arguing that his depression was an ADA-qualifying disability. He went on to say he requested accommodation — a flexible schedule, more frequent and longer breaks, and working later in the day — to make up for any lost time.

In court, the company agreed the employee had a qualifying disability. The company rep said they felt the accommodation was unreasonable, since being at work on time and working the hours required to complete the job was essential to the job function. After all, most companies require their employees to be on time and in attendance during “company hours.”

The court ruled in favor of the business. The business did what they thought they had to do to keep the business moving. Of course, before taking action, you should consider the negative attention your company could suffer if a case like this goes to trial. Do what’s right for your organization, but first things first: Discuss it with your attorney.

 

Anne Williams is not an attorney. All content in this column is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality and is not to be construed as legal advice.

 

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