My question is regarding a relocation pay-back clause. I accepted a postion with my company that involved moving from CA to TN in February of 2009. The company gave me a lump sum (after tax) of $10,000 to cover relocation and moving expenses. Since that time, I’ve decided that my long term goals don’t align with my company’s any longer. I’m looking to leave and actually have a new job opportunity on the table that I’m seriously considering.

My problem is that when I went back and looked at the contract that I signed for the new position, it clearly states that if I leave the company within 12 months of the hire date, I am liable to pay back all (or a part) of my relocation expenses to the company.

With this in mind, here are a few questions for you:

1) Is this for real? Would a company really demand that I pay the relocation back? If so, how much do you think I would owe them? Would it be pro-rated for the number of months I worked in the position?

2) Is this enforceable? How would HR go about collecting the amount that they deem I owe? What’s stopping me from just telling them to “shove it”?

3) My company currently owes me some sales commissions that have not yet been paid to me. Should I suggest that these funds be applied to cover some or all of what the company deems to be my balance due?

Let me tell you a little story. Earlier this year my husband accepted a new job that required an international relocation. Part of his contract states that if he quits in less than two years he has to repay. Do you know how freaking expensive an international relocation is? Do you? It can easily run into 6 figures (in either Swiss Francs or dollars!). Before he signed on the dotted line, we had this discussion:

Him: We’re in this for two years, no matter what.
Me: Even if your boss turns into a werewolf.
Him: Right. Because we’re not repaying an international relocation.

You, apparently, didn’t have this chat with yourself.

Now, the chances of you finding the job you really want and starting between now and February are pretty slim (unless you already have something lined up), so you are probably worrying for nothing.

But, yes, you have to repay it. Legally and morally. You signed the contract. You took the money. It’s your obligation to repay. No whining on that. The pro-rating would depend on how it is written. My guess would be at 6 months you’d have to repay 50%.

Can they come after you? You betcha! Will they? Depends on the size of the company and how annoyed you’ve made them. Would I count on them just sighing and saying, “Oh well! Steve ran off without repaying!” Absolutely not. They can take you to court and since you are freaking out about repaying $10,000 my guess is they have more resources then you do. In all honesty, they probably won’t take you to court, but they could and if they did they’d win.

If they still owe you money, certainly you can negotiate with them on how those funds would be applied. However, this is not a question best asked until you’ve already landed the next job.

This also means you will leave this company on bad terms. The company and you may have different long term goals, but you’ll need the reference. Even if you were stellar employee, your boss is going to have a bad taste in his mouth about this.

Repeat after me: I will repay the money I owe. I am legally and morally obligated. I will repay the money I owe. I am legally and morally obligated.

Now, let’s address another issue: This company doesn’t align with your long term goals. Got it. You’ve only been there 7 months. If it’s a goal issue, staying a few more months won’t hurt. Leaving now will leave you a big black mark on your resume. You must be prepared to be asked, forevermore, “Why did you stay at Acme Corp only 7 months?” And, no you can’t put: District Manager, Acme Corp 2009 on your resume. We see through that. We have special glasses that show us that years only means you didn’t work very much of that year. (Exception, if you worked 1998-2009, I’ll allow years only. But, I still don’t like it.)

If this were a 3 year repayment clause I can see why you might want to leave sooner than that, but it’s a 12 month one and it’s more than half gone. Suck it up and stick it out, or pay up.

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85 thoughts on “Relocation

  1. I have to deal with this all the time. We do a lot of relocation packages…mostly when hiring nurses. We used to make them sign a 12 month contract and yes we collected the money if they left. We gave them the option of taking it out of their last check or a payment plan. We recently switched the plan and started paying half of the relocation up front and half at 12 months with no contract. So if they were not here at 12 months they never got the 2nd half. Can I tell you how many people took the first half and left a month later!!! People are greedy and sneaky!!!

    1. Maybe people aren’t greedy. Maybe you just have a sucky company, or worse, poor management that your HR department can’t weed out.

    2. If no contract is made for relocation, legally your company cannot take the payments from an employees last check. Your company would need to pursue the employee legally for the money owed.

  2. Look at it this way, you and your employer signed a contract. The employer is legally required to provide all of the monetary and non-monetary compensation stated in the contract. You, also, are legally required to adhere to the terms of the contract for the clauses that apply to your obligation. What would happen if they didn't pay you? Would you assume they are required to pay? Would you do what it takes to make them pay their legal obligation? Of course.

    They will dock your last pay for as much money as they can, and then take you to small claims court for the rest. (in Canada anyway)

    My recommendation? Same as EHRL…stay until the required period is over.

  3. As a part of HR in a large company, I have been "in the loop" on many such discussions. Most larger companies take these situations seriously, and work to reclaim as much as they can. You should count on them pursuing most, if not all, of the contracted value.

    1. What about if promised a package for relocation with a minimum term of 6 month (which has been met) but the company lose the contract the same month your payment is due , would you still get the incentive?

  4. Also just FYI for the future. It's best to read and understand contracts before signing, not after.

  5. You owe. Pay it. However, there is nothing wrong with telling New Employer that you want $X to cover the move package that you have a legal and moral obligation to repay.

    In addition to what Anon said, also remember never to stop on the railroad tracks. Dad 101.

  6. What is wrong with people?!

    What do you the meaning of a contract is?

    And why do you think they had you sign it? Because they were making an investment in you and were asking you to ensure they'd get some of the benefits from it.

    Yes, you have to repay. Yes, many companies will come after you if you don't. Yes, you are a jerk to even be posing this question in the manner that you did.


    1. You seem a little condescending. What if there is nothing in writing in the new company? You don’t have to repay the relocation?

      BTW: not every company treats people well even though they are willing to make an investment. Just saying!

  7. In the HR department I work at we have a strict relocation agreement: Return one year of service or payback :(relocation cost / 12 months)* # of months remaining in year…seems pretty simple to me.

  8. What Ask a Manager said.

    And yes, ERHL, as always you are absolutely right (I'm not in HR but I have the same "chat" with myself any time I accept relocation money!), but you seemed to overlook some of the things the reader said:

    1) "You must be prepared to be asked, forevermore, 'Why did you stay at Acme Corp only 7 months?' " – The person said she accepted a position with the same company she worked for, only moving from CA to TN, so I don't think this question would apply to her case?

    2) "Now, the chances of you finding the job you really want and starting between now and February are pretty slim (unless you already have something lined up), so you are probably worrying for nothing." She did say in her letter
    "I'm looking to leave and actually have a new job opportunity on the table that I'm seriously considering."

    Still, what you said,
    "Repeat after me: I will repay the money I owe. I am legally and morally obligated. I will repay the money I owe. I am legally and morally obligated." Is spot on!

  9. In 100% agreeement. I work in HR at a large company and we relocate people all the time. I personally have relocated 7 times in my career. That was 7 contracts I signed and 7 times I knew I was committing to stay with the company for 12 months or pay back the thousands of dollars the company was investing in me by relocating me.

    You should talk to someone in HR to better understand the terms of the contract you signed. Honestly you should have done this prior to signing. But you didn't, so here you are. Ask about repayment, is it prorated for time served (my experience is that it probably is). Also, do they offer a payment plan or do the require full payment upon separation? You need to better understand what your obligation is so that you can make an informed decision.

  10. Chris M and I read this the same way. I sounds to me like the employee took an internal transfer for a company that they already worked for, not a new position with a new employer. This doesn't excuse the early termination of a contract. However, the way this reads to me, it sounds like the employer could potentially pull the plug on that person's employment at any time. I didn't see anywhere in the e-mail that the employer was committed to the employee for a 12 month period.

    Let me give you a different example where the shoe is on the other foot. A friend of mine was attending an executive MBA program at the request of her employer, with the funding for the MBA program provided for by her employer. Like most companies, the employer only re-imburses the student at the end of the semester after the grades have been issued and the performance in the class is in line with the standards for re-imbursement. Long story short, she got laid off due to a reduction-in-force brought on by the economic storm that we're currently in. Not only did she lose her job, but now she's out the money for the MBA program that she would not have even enrolled in, had her employer not requested her participation.

    My point is that the employer's lack of committment to the employee probably leaves a little wiggle room for the employee to negotiate in this case. It seems rather strange to me that the employer would pursue the employee monetarily in this situation, especially for a lump sum amount like $10,000. I would think a pro-rated amount based on the day the contract was signed would be the course of action. If this was an international relocation with big bucks involved, that would be a different story. In this case, I would tell the employee to lock down the new job, negotiate some sort of signing bonus, and use it to pay off the pro-rated sum due at the employer in question. If they ask you for the full amount, I would suggest you refuse and tell them you're only willing to pay a pro-rated amount (based on the number of months you stayed) or they can take you to court. They'll settle with you, trust me, $10,000 is not enough to go to court over. I would also suggest that if the amount of commissions owed is legitimate and you can prove it, you should bring it up before the commissions are paid out. The reason for this is because if you wait to get paid, all the taxes will come out of the amount owed and will require you to pay more out-of-pocket costs to terminate the contract.

    If you really want the job take it, but be prepared to pay at least $5000.00

  11. Anonymous, yes, morally.

    When you sign a contract, you are agreeing to do something. That's what a contract is. If a company signs a contract agreeing to do something, they are held to it too.

    You're trying to compare breaking your word to … not breaking your word. It doesn't work.

  12. I am in full agreement with the posting above. A contract is a contract. The employee signed it, and it is her legal (and moral) obligation to repay it. Getting laid off is outside of a contract.

    Back to the original posting, I'm frankly surprised that this question is even being asked. I don't know who offered this employee a different job, but if they knew you were wanting to renig on a contract and tell your current employer to "shove it," they would likely think twice about the type of employee they were hiring. I wouldn't hire you.

  13. Wow! This is a hot issue on the discussion board! My initial response is that I'd have to see the "contract". Are we merely talking about an offer letter with language in it governing the pay-back of relocation expenses or are we talking about an actual legally drawn up contractual agreement?

    Is the "contract" countersigned by someone in the HR department with the appropriate authority level? Did the employee ever receive a copy of the countersigned "contract" from the HR department after this new position within the company was accepted?

    There is more that a little gray area here (in my opinion), especially with the employer having not paid out commissions owed to the employee. It seems to me like the employee could potentially have a legitimate claim against the employer for not paying commissions owed. This one could get ugly…I would not accept the new position with the new company unless I had all of this ironed out first. The trick of it is, most folks (including myself) would we very wary (and rightly so) about contacting their HR department and asking the question without having the other job "locked down" (as the other Anon author put it above).

    A Catch-22 situation to be sure. I strongly suggest you get legal advice before making any decisions…a $500 legal consult would be money well spent. Better yet would be to think through your list of friends/contacts and see if you know anyone who practices labor-related law and let them read the "contract" to determine its validity.

    I would also disregard the comments above in the posting related to the "reference" from your former employer. This is really not much of a deterrent if the company she works for is a publicly traded company. Almost any large publicly traded company will only verify employment now-a-days. I would be shocked if the employer gave the employee a bad reference because of libel/slander implications. That could cost them a whole helluva lot more than 10,000 bucks.

  14. Hmmm…compelling thoughts on both sides of this argument. Sounds to me like this one is headed for a split decision. Employer eats $5000 for employee's time served, employee pays $5000 for breach of contract.

    The other Anon posting from yesterday with the example of the employee who got screwed on tuition re-imbursement is an excellent example of how an employee is morally obligated to pay (tuition in that case), but the employer is morally reprehensible for laying the employee off with no notice and not re-imbursing the tuition expense…especially when they pushed the employee into the program. I'll bet there are more than a few stories like that circulating in today's world given the downsizing and RIF's going on in the marketplace in 2008/2009.

    Interesting points on both sides…a spirited debate.

  15. "What's stopping me from just telling them to "shove it"?

    Such a lack of a moral compasss – Someone made a mistake when they hired this OP in the first place.

    Perhaps, his/her boss will wake up, tell him/her to "shove it", and then hire people like me who have a sense of right and wrong.

    Even better, I hope that this person's new boss reads this and knows what troubles lie ahead if they hire him/her.

  16. From a large company that does relocate folks and has them sign a contract. I'm amused that the person accepted the relocation and now has an "offer on the table." I wonder where this new offer is located? All said and done – the offer and relocation was done in good faith (on the employer end) – not so sure on the employee end. As far as paid education … is the person really complaining that the organization was paying her MBA – now she may have to pay it herself?

    Maybe we need to go back to the days when folks paid for their own education and relocation – then no gripes. I think this falls into the "let no good deed go unpunished"

  17. I wonder how the original poster would feel or act if the company had told them to "shove it" when he incurred the cost of moving from CA to TN and had asked for the relocation reimbursement.

    Never a dull moment in HR, that's for sure. It's interesting that company's are to be held to such high standards but when the shoe is on the other foot, it's a different story.

    The same contract that was signed would be upheld in court if the company didn't pay so it will also be upheld in court if the employee backs out. And most companies I have worked for go after the whole amount, not just a portion or a pro-rated amount. In hiring a new person, they may have to pay that amount again to get someone on board. They shouldn't pro rate it. It's all or nothing.

    1. HR Godess,

      I am wondering if you know what I may be my obligation in the situation I am in now. I signed a two year contract with a hospital for a management position. I have been there about 4 months and am being terminated. I feel I did not receive adequate training. I am wondering if I can get out of paying the relocation assistance because of termination? My contract states not, but is it worth negotiating?

    2. HR Godess,

      I am wondering if you know what I may be my obligation in the situation I am in now. I signed a two year contract with a hospital for a management position. I have been there about 4 months and am being terminated. I feel I did not receive adequate training. I am wondering if I can get out of paying the relocation assistance because of termination? My contract states not, but is it worth negotiating?

  18. Anonymous, I was with you up until As far as paid education … is the person really complaining that the organization was paying her MBA – now she may have to pay it herself?

    Maybe we need to go back to the days when folks paid for their own education and relocation – then no gripes. I think this falls into the "let no good deed go unpunished"

    Her company encouraged her to get a degree that she otherwise wouldn't have pursued, for *their* benefit. Yes, it benefits her, but it was a qualification they wanted her to go for. If not for the tuition reimbursement, she probably wouldn't have.

    And she didn't quit, she was laid off, which means that it was also *their* choice not to get further benefit out of her education.

    This isn't "let no good deed go unpunished." The employer wasn't originally paying for her education out of the goodness of their hearts–it was to their benefit. And they should've had the decency not to make her pay it back when they let her go.

  19. Hyatt Hotels Corp. laid off the entire housekeeping staffs at the Hyatt Regency Boston, Hyatt Regency Cambridge, and Hyatt Harborside Hotel after the morning shift had ended on Aug. 31 because their housekeeping staff was paid on average $15/hour with health benefits. They've outsourced to company that pays around $8 with no benefits….this is why you should have no loyalty to your company.

  20. Because some companies are heartless, treat all companies as if they are heartless. Is that the plan?

    That's the kind of thinking that makes this society a pretty crappy place to live in. You shouldn't base your own morals on how other people treat you. You shouldn't be acting in such a way that you feel you have to justify your actions.

    It's the Golden Rule, does nobody learn that anymore?

    And aside from all that, regardless of the company's ultimate intentions, the bottom line is that the contract was signed. If you're going to go along with an attitude of "screw everyone, look out for #1," then you'd better at least respect a contract, which is the only thing that keeps a society full of selfish assholes from falling apart.

  21. If you want to be respected in the workplace…join a union. Evilhrlady has said on many occasions that she doesn't work for the employee she works for the company…do you think that implies your best interest is at heart?

  22. And a union does?

    Joining a union doesn't create respect in the workplace. It's the complete antithesis to a good employer/employee relationship. It ensures a combative and adversarial relationship with management at all times.

    If this is what you want, then by all means go for it. But don't mislead yourself into thinking this creates respect.

  23. Kelly – you're right – I must have been in an interesting mood when I posted. My experience is that a Master's program (while encouraged by the organization) is reimbursed on a semester basis. I was under the impression that we were talking about one course and not the entire MBA program. And while our organization hopes that the education would be beneficial … we do not pursue folks that leave (or are let go) to reimburse us. These are difficult times (on both sides – the employer and employee) I would have hoped the organization that let her go – would have seen the bigger picture and not require her to pay back for education it encouraged her to get.

  24. I'd be curious to know how many of the Anonymous types who railed at Hyatt or others for laying off or getting cheaper employees have avoided staying at the Hyatt because it was too expensive. Same for all of those who condemn Wal-Mart (a.k.a. The Evil Empire) for their employment practices, but still shop there, "because they have the best prices".
    The fact of it is that both employer and employee (or Consumer and Provider) play flip sides of the same coin. If employees show no loyalty, it's unlikely that the company will, and vice versa.
    Back to the original point: You signed a contract. You are obligated to live up to it, whether you want to or not. Read before you sign things. Moreover, understand the implications of what you're signing.

  25. Wow, the comments got way sidetracked.

    I normally avoid blaming the victim but since the OP isn't even a victim in this case I have no qualms about saying this: Why didn't they read the contract BEFORE they signed it?

    It wasn't a surprise that they were being reimbursed for moving so why wouldn't they read the terms for that reimbursement? Am I the only one that doesn't expect people to give me money with no strings attached?

    I've always been an 'at will' employee so maybe someone else can tell whether an employment contract has tiny type. Was the part about moving expenses hidden? Are these things as hard to read as the worst banking disclosures? Somehow I doubt it.

    Also, why shouldn't the company expect that money back? Why does the OP expect that some company should pay them to move without expecting something else in return? It doesn't make any sense. It is not unfair or unreasonable for a company to want to avoid the situation described in the very first comment: paying a lot of money for someone to move only for that employee to leave soon after.

  26. Hi I was given this offer letter a few months ago. The contract I signed is exactly the same except for the "looking forward to seeing you" part and mentions no stipulation for employment longevity for the relocation expense..

    Thanks for coming in and meeting with us. I am pleased to offer you the position of Software Engineer IV at XXXXXX, Inc. reporting to XXX XXX, Application Engineer Manager. Attached please find the Job Description for this position. This is a full-time position beginning July 27, 2009 at a yearly salary of $95,040.00. Your bi-monthly pay is $3960.00 before taxes and insurance. You are also entitled to a moving allowance from your current residence to XXXX, MS. XXXX will pay actual expenses up to $5,000.00 based on your expense reports submitted with original receipts. I have also attached several documents (Non-compete, Intellectual Work product, and Confidentiality Agreement) that you will be expected to sign prior to work actually starting.

    I look forward to hearing from you and having you join the company.

    Recently I was let go because they said the were downsizing and that I was not a good fit. (Different software skills?)

    Ok, I am not upset at being let go because from my point of view, they were not a good fit either. Not even upset that I was literally given NO warning either and the day they said I was let go was the day they wanted me to leave. However, I did pay 2,600 bucks of my own money in which the contract and offer letter both states that I'm entitled to "reimbursement" up to 5k. I have sent them my expense invoice & report (once while I was working) and twice now since I am unemployed and they simply refuse to communicate with me. It's been 45 days thus far. Is this a legal binding "enforceable" agreement/contract (ST: Mississippi) or should I just write this up as a loss?

    Thanks for you help.

  27. Can you please comment on obligation to pay back relocation bonus if there was no contract signed? I was transfered within company (I asked for it), and I was offered a relocation bonus (I hadn't asked for it) instead of adjustment/increase in my salary.
    I was never given a contract to sign. It was simply a proposal that I received in person. There is no obligation to repay or any time obligation for the bonus. They have mentioned in the letter that my pay will be adjusted in one year from the start date. Now I have to leave for personal reasons (family medical) and the company has verbally mentioned they want the relocation bonus back. Do I have to pay it back?
    I like to keep my good terms but don't want to/can't afford to pay it back 6 months into the job. Please help!

  28. Here's another small twist. My employer had me sign a relocation contract but never signed on the line designated for their signature. Seeing as both parties did not sign the contract, is it enforceable?

  29. Here's another small twist. My employer had me sign a relocation contract but never signed on the line designated for their signature. Seeing as both parties did not sign the contract, is it enforceable?

  30. I recently took a new job and signed an agreement that stated I must stay for two years or pay back my signing bonus and relo. Having been at my last job for 10 years, two years didn’t scare me. When I started my first day, I found that the job had changed and that my responsiblities had changed. Two weeks later I learned that I would no longer be reporting to a Sr Director, but a Director. Two months later, my job changed again. The short story is that I would never have accepted an offer for my current job reporting to a Director. All of you who feel that the poster is such a deadbeat should realize that no employee gets to ask their employer to sign a contract, it’s always the other way around and the only rules they follow are those that they are absoultely required to follow by law.

  31. Evil HR Lady (and everyone) — I’m at the starting end of this same problem. I just got a job offer that includes a full relocation package and states in the Offer Letter that if I part ways with the company for any reason (including, I’m assuming, if they let me go) within 2 years, I must pay back the relocation costs. They don’t tell me how much that will be exactly, nor do they mention whether it will be pro-rated. But it’s a big company and I’m not sure whether this is the standard agreement with all their employees and I’ll just have to hold my breath and sign it as is. I have emailed the HR recruiter back and asked if it was possible to remove that clause, but no reply so far (1 day later).

    The offer letter doesn’t expire for another 4 days, but I’m starting to feel a little nervous. They wouldn’t rescind the job offer just because I asked if it would be possible to remove this clause, would they?

  32. What if the reason you are leaving before your contract is up is because the company is unethical in its practices, your boss is emotionally/mentally unstable and others above him know and acknowledge it but refuse to take him out of that role, your home life is non-existant since your working 10-12 hours at the office, then at home 2-3 hours more because your boss is constantly (evening thru early am hours) emailing you that you are incompetent, lacking knowledge and leadership, immature, it goes on.. although everyone else you work with including upper management of different departments highly respect you and have told the people who can change the situation but refuse to what an excellent job you are doing. The only reason I am leaving is because physically/mentally I can’t take it anymore. I get little sleep, Im anxious most the time, Im belittled constantly by my boss and my family misses their husband/father. When I started working here, there were 9 of us with my same title, now there are 4 and I know 2 of those are actively looking for something else. An internal investigation type of thing is happening because some others have went about their bosses to voice their frustration as well. Do you still think I should suck it up for another 2 months. I honestly decided my health and family were more important. But I still find it upsetting that I have to pay the financial penalty because they lied to me about what the work environment was going to be (I asked about work load, hours, turnover rates.) I realize now they told me LIES yet Im the one left paying the price. Something is definitely wrong here and the one thing I am at peace with knowing is its not ME!

  33. How long it is usually before a company requests payback? I left my company about 2 months ago and they have not requested that I pay anything back yet.

  34. I hired on a new job with relocation provided $5,000.00
    We have to return do to my wifes health. My boss came to me and said the company wants the relocation money back, but we are going to prorate the time here 6 months and Not pay you sick leave of 6 days and if you stay for 3 additional days unpaid we will call the debt satisfied. I agreed. A week later thay are not sure they want to keep the agreement they made. Note: I gave my boss 1 months notice to clean up all issues and have not taken any vacation or sick leave. Where do I stand?

    1. It all depends on the contract you signed. If there was no contract, then it’s doubtful you owe anything.

  35. They call it an employment contract but throughout the agreement it continuously says this is not an employment contract and is at will.

    1. Being at will is very different from having a relocation payback contract. Did you sign anything about relocation?

  36. There is a repayment clause in the employment agreement.
    I signed the employment offer on October 18th they signed the the offer/ agreement on November 21st. The agreement references all clauses and says I agree to all of them.

    1. Then you need to repay. Unless it specifies that you don’t have to repay if you’re terminated, you have to repay if you’re fired. Most don’t require repayment for termination unless it’s for cause.

  37. 1 more thing If I had been fired I would not be responsible to pay back anything. Agreement is at will for them and me.

  38. So I have the same problem…in a sense. I signed a two year contract for 5k and in the contract they listed bonus, salary and relocation. Just recently they changed the bonus plan from 10% to 5% I say they broke the contract and I shouldn’t have a problem not paying the 5k back.


  39. What if I never signed a contract? The company only gave me a packet stating that if I choose to leave, I would be responsible for the tax gross up portion of the move. The relocation bonus does not reference leaving the company after the move, the employee is responsible for paying it back. Other than that, there was nothing else in the packet stating I needed to pay back anything. I already accepted a new position and let the company know. The HR department came back to me and said they will be looking for reimbursement on the move, the tax gross up, and the relocation bonus. Again there was no contract signed for this move. I think I am in the clear and I have plans to pay the tax gross up portion back.

  40. Here’s a question for you…is the employer obligated to request the relocation repayment within a certain amount of time after leaving the company?

    My relocation agreement required me to stay for 2 years, but I left after 18 months. After leaving however, I forgot about the relocation repayment and no one at the company mentioned it when I was leaving – even though I gave 4 weeks notice for my resignation. Six months later I received a letter from my former employer asking for the relocation money back.

    Do I still owe the money?

      1. If the employer only presented the contract to repay after the employee had moved is that still enforceable.


  41. Tagging on to James’ question- I moved out of state for a new position and was offered relocation support from my new employer. Once I had paid for everything on my personal credit card, moved, and started the new job I was presented with the terms & conditions that I needed to sign in order to be reimbursed. Is that normal? I understand that I signed the contract, but it was my first time ever dealing with relocation and at that point I felt stuck. Can I dispute the contract?

  42. If a contract states I am required to pay relocation expenses back if I leave before two years but the contract itself is only valid for one year, am I still bound to the two years?

  43. Just rec’d an offer for employment requesting that I begin in two weeks. I have to be there in two weeks, long move but within the same state. Listed my home for sale (can’t keep two homes going) and trying to figure out if I can buy another place or if I will need to arrange temporary house rental while carrying the home I am moving from. Perhaps you can translate this for me. Contract states 5,000.00 “relocation bonus” only. Do they mean to pay this up front? Is that how it is done? This will make the difference of whether I am stuck in a 12 month lease or if I can but a second home. Thank you for your kind and prompt attention.

  44. I am living in hell right now, and only thing keeping me in my job, is the signed contract. Company lied to me, but there is no clause about lies, they only mentioned that it needs to be repaid if I quit, or if they justified, fire me. But they have not provide me promised training to succeed in my new role, they are huge company. Feeling frustrated.

  45. Evil HR Lady is an idiot. I work in HR and would never dispense such shoddy advice, but again I doubt she has a JD either.

  46. So if the employee does leave and owes you $$ for the relocation agreement, how do you go about getting it back? They had no final wages to collect from and I have sent them a letter and they have not sent any payment. What are my legal next steps?

  47. I am an engineer with a MSEE and 10+ years experience. I worked at my previous employer for 13 years. I was paid $7500 relocation to accept a new job. But, the job description was 100% lies and I am nothing more than an errand boy. I asked my boss for responsibilities more aligned with my education, experience and career goals, but he got upset with me and threatened to fire me.

    Everyday, I run my career deeper in the ditch because potential employers will expect more than just “get signatures and order parts” on my resume. My relocation contract also stipulated a 2 year tenure, but I wish there was a way to force employers to also honor all the stuff they promise in the interview. It is frustrating to accept a job assuming some level of professional growth, only to be stuck in a dead-end-no-skills-required job.

    I have no problem repaying the relocation costs, but it seems punitive since I would gladly stay with my current employer if I could actually perform the duties listed in the job description.

    That’s my two cents.

  48. it the request to repay a lump sum payment normally based on the gross amount or net amount received after taxes?

  49. I signed a contract with a reputable international company in Dubai. I negotiated the expat benefit package and was happy with the terms. 2 weeks before my start date there, they withdrew my contract and they never wanted to state the reason. 1- Are they allowed to deny telling me the reason?
    2- What would have been the reason?

    Thank you,


  50. Now If I have a two-year pay back clause does that also mean they have to provide me with a guaranteed two years of employment?

  51. What about if the cost of relocation charges is hidden on the relocation contract and now I am breaking the contact and they wanted me to pay back the charges that are 3-4 times more than other companies that I got the quotes from.

  52. Got relocated for mgmt trainee program and was interning with same company before hand. Was told I would be receiving excellent training and that the facility I was being sent to was one of the best in the country. Upon my arrival I realized they’re are one of the best in terms of profit and in reality OSHA would shut them down in a heartbeat. They banked on me being trained as an intern and I did get trained, so instead of receiving any additional training to be a manager nor getting an orientation as promised, which is the point of the program, they are having me do tasks that I already learned in a dangerous environment with no guidance or direction. Given the lack of training and having me work in a dangerous environment can I get out of paying back the relocation package for those reasons legally? Two year clause full repayment $3200. Its only been two weeks and I this program last 6 months. I don’t see how they can lie to me, engage in OSHA violations and expect me to pay them back if I leave for another opportunity. Answers anyone?

  53. Seek an opinion of a qualified attorney. Depending on your circumstances you may have a defense. For instance if a company promised you little to no travel and now you are traveling 40% of the time. Or if you were to work in a particular department and are transferred to another department.

  54. There is another side of the coin to this, when the employer agrees to relocate, will only pay a fraction of the relocation costs claiming they don’t have money, and you pay the rest on the expectation of continued employment. But even before you finish unpacking, your employer notifies you that are being laid off and you are not offered money to return to the US or even a new position, when the company has them available on their website, a month after the “reorg”. This is negotiation in bad faith. The company claims that I wanted to move anyway on my own, which to me is a jackwagon excuse. Now I am in Europe and don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer and sue in the mainland.

  55. My husband accepted a relocation bonus and signed a payback agreement for 2 years. However, the company has recently taken a turn and cut back hours from full-time to only 3-4 days/week with some weeks closing altogether. I would have never predicted this type of situation, and there is nothing written in the payback agreement about hours. He wouldn’t want to look for another job if his current employer could continue to pay a full-time salary, but now his pay has been cut in half. Any thoughts on how this might affect repayment of the relocation?

  56. What if a company offered you relo to perform a specific job and on day one informed you that instead of doing the job stated in the contract you were being moved to another position. Would you be obligated to pay in that situation? The employer didn’t keep up their end of the contract either.

  57. Should you put in a clause that in the case of the company restructuring or deciding to go another way…and lays you off, is it normal to add a clause saying that they should pay the fees to get you back to your original country ?

  58. If they apply your PTO to the relocation payback is tia taxed amount? You technically have already paid taxes on the amount when you recieved the relocation, so I would assume the company keeping the PTO amount would not be taxed would this be right? My company is trying to treat it like a bonus and tax it at a higher rate than normal pay.

    1. The IRS requires that. And it’s not taxed at a higher rate, it’s withheld at a higher rate. Sorry.

      When you file your taxes next year, you’ll get refunded.

  59. If my one year is on July 1’st and I give my two weeks two weeks before that, would I still have to pay relocation? My last day would technically be July 4, but I gave my two weeks before the date I started.

  60. As a HR professional I happened upon your site while eating my lunch today. What a pleasure to read.

  61. What if you quit company A, sign a relocation contract with company B and before the contract is up, company A buys out company B? This just happened to me, I quit the first one for a reason.

  62. I signed a relocation contract when I took up this job. It was an international relocation and the contract says if I quit my job in 36 months then I have to reimburse the relocation costs on pro rata basis.
    It’s been 15 months now and I have personal issues due to which I plan to go back to my home country. I don’t plan to take up an employment for atleast 6 months after that as my family needs me. The relocation costs is high and I dint save or have enough money to pay back. My stay here was short.
    What are my options if I don’t want to pay? Is there a prosecution?
    I don’t plan to look for an employment either in US or in my home country for some time so I don’t worry about credibility or getting black listed

  63. I recently relocated with my company to another position out of state. They gave me a relocation fee of $5,000 and stated in the contract that if I left prior to the 12 month period I would have to pay up to the $5,000 back pro rated. I worked in the office for 3 1/2 months but resigned because of the position affecting my health. I knew that I would be responsible for the repayment (pro-rated). What I didn’t know when I received the Relocation Repayment Agreement, the company added a charge unbeknown to me as “Tax Assistance Charge” equaling $2,700 to my bill. Is this legal for them to do? What is this fee for and why the amount? I have reached out to Corporate for clarification but no one is providing this information for me. I am willing to pay back the pro-rated amount without any hesitation; however, I never agreed to a Tax Assistance Charge of this amount. Please advise anyone.

    1. It’s probably a tax gross up so you received $5000. You shouldn’t have to repay the whole amount because you ultimately won’t receive the full $5000.

      The problem is, they gave you the money in 2019 and now it’s 2020 so you’re looking at different tax years.

      You’ll need to consult an accountant.

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