How to Negotiate a New Job Contract

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Moving because of a new job is always an exciting time, in particular if the job is in a new city, state or even requires a move overseas. You may want the new employment position so bad that you forgo crucial costs that could be built-into your employment contract. Find out in advance what the company is offering and negotiate to include some of these extra costs. After all, you're worth that little bit extra.

Salary

Even though this is obvious, make sure you read the contract carefully. It should specify the gross annual salary or net salary (make sure it's clear which it is), bonuses and layout the increases in terms of when they should occur and how much can be expected. Also, the contract should state how the bonuses or increases are determined, whether they are based on volume, such as in sales, or merit or if they are automatic.

When considering your salary, you'll need to also factor in living expenses in the new city, cost of living in the new state or country you'd be moving to. Cost of living calculators are a great way to determine if your salary will maintain your current lifestyle or not. Remember if you're moving to another country, use local currency and local living costs to see if what you're being offered is reasonable and more importantly, feasible.

Benefits

Your benefit package, if there is one, should be detailed and clear in terms of what you'll receive and who pays what costs.

Often, the employer and employee share the costs with each paying half. This should be outlined and part of the agreement.

Benefits are a very strong negotiation tool. While your salary may be lower than what you'd receive at home, the benefits available could make up the difference and more. Ask about Medical Insurance, Dental, Life Insurance, Disability, coverage for your family, etc...

Also find out if benefits are considered taxable salary. If you're going to be paying local taxes - depending on if the new state or country bases its taxes on residency or citizenship and what determines either - check with the employer or human resources officer or an international accountant at home. Determine the tax rate and what is considered taxable before you sign.

Vacation, Sick and Long-term Leave

Your contract should outline the number of vacation days you'll receive, how long you must work before vacation is granted and what national holidays are included. Also, find out what kind of coverage is available for short-term or long-term illness or if you must return to your home country for a family emergency.

Pension and Unemployment

Ask about protection should you be laid off or find yourself unemployed. How much notice will you be given and how will that affect your work permit if the permit is tied to your employer? These are questions we didn't ask my husband's new employer before signing the contract. Three years later, when the company laid him off, he was given no notice or compensation and because his visa was linked to the position, we were forced to leave the country.

Ask before you sign.

Relocation, Housing and Transportation

Part of your agreement with your new employer can include moving costs, both to the new job location and the return after the contract is complete. Negotiate for the costs to cover not only you, but your family as well. Ask about temporary accommodation or if any housing costs are included in the contract. This is particularly important if you're moving to an area where housing costs are extremely high. Also, find out if the company is willing to pay for an initial trip so you can research the area and secure accommodation before your family arrives. This is usually a cheaper option than having the company pay for short-term rental space. It's also a lot easier on you and your family if you only have to move once.

School Fees

If you have school-age children, negotiate to have their school fees included in your contract.

Fees for international schools can range from $10,000 to $30,000 USD per year. Also, find out if the company can assist in registering your child in a good school. For some schools, the wait list is long and the acceptance process a difficult hurdle.

Visas and Work Permits

Find out who is responsible for obtaining your work permit and/or visa and who is picking up the tab for processing. Visas can cost a fair amount of money, so ask up front. Also, will your employer cover the cost for your spouse and children? Who is responsible in securing the family visas? Is your spouse able to work? If so, will they assist in relocating him/her?

At the end, your contract should include most of these items. If the company does not include extra perks, make sure your salary is worth the move and that you and your family can survive, and maybe even thrive, from this great opportunity.