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Good morning,

I currently work for a French multi-national in their UK subsidiary and I am a UK citizen. I have been offered a senior executive role in the USA, based in Florida. I have been going through the process of negotiating the deal with HR, however we have reached an impasse on one point, local vs expat contract.

In the current deal I will get an approx 35% increase to my base salary and bonus package (paid in USD and taxed at a much lower rate than UK as I understand). However this is not as great as it first seems as my wife is well paid in the UK (about 80k) but will not be working if we decide to go ahead. I have a 10 month old son. I will also get a yearly allowance for housing that will cover the cost of a nice four bedroom home with pool, car allowance, allowance for flights home, medical etc.

However I engaged with the opportunity on the basis of a fixed term expat contract for 36 months where I would retain my UK employment rights, continuous service etc. I don't have amazing benefits in the UK, fairly standard defined contribution pension and only 2 years service so no excellent redundancy payout. However I do have a 3 month notice period and very attractive paternity benefits that I am keen not to give up. I have no intention of staying in the USA longer than three years and therefore my return to the UK and security of a position on return is very important to me. That being said I am in a very buoyant sector and the new role is a significant promotion so I should not have an issue securing employment with an other company in the UK if it came to that.

My employer has said there is no guarantee what role I could come back to the UK and do in three years given what can happen in that timeframe, however I can only assume the company will put more effort into finding me a position on my return if I am still contractually linked to the UK.

The company claims they are aggressively phasing out 'Expat' contracts and typically using them only in more exotic locations. The role is a significant promotion and career step for me. However I have significant negotiating power as the management in France has no interest in making a local hire who they don't know for such a key role and I have a track record of success in the UK they will find it hard to find elsewhere in the company.

My question is how much emphasis and value would you place in the expat over local contract? My concern is under US employment law I could be sacked one day, no income the next and be left with the costs of relocating back to the UK plus any possible liabilities in the USA (remaining lease on house/cars etc.). Whereas in the UK I would be protected from unfair dismissal, have three months notice and my wife's salary to fall back on.

My current negotiating position is that I have drawn a red line and I am insisting on an expat contract. Based on the above what are your views on my situation?

Many thanks for tasking the time to read this post!
 

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Having moved myself with a tech company to the US and having many friends who have also done the same, the norm appears to be a combination of some of the expat contract and local employment rules.

In the case of my company we received the increased salary, rental and car allowance for several months, medical insurance, flights home for 2 years and a clause in the contract which defined a return home to the UK if the job did not pan out in 18 months. Also an agreement that the Green Card would be pursued within 12 months of arrival in the US and that our UK vacation days would continue in the US.

However, the contract did not agree to UK employment rules pertaining to UK employment rights, paternity/maternity rights and the such. These aspects were under US State laws.

As your company has offered you the job (as opposed to you applying for an advertised post and getting it), you are in a good position to negotiate. Having said that, your company does not HAVE to agree to a full expat contract and so there is a risk of you losing it. What have they said about YOU only wanting to go out for 3 years? Is this the company's view as well?

Most people jump at the chance to live and work in the US. You are more concerned with what happens when you return.

Your company is correct in that there is no guarantee as to what the situation will be like in 3 years time.

It's a bit of a gamble for everyone moving abroad - how much you want to go, your current situation, and your personal risk level all come into play.

I for one had the offer to move to Miami some 10 years prior to moving to CA and following a trip to Miami decided I had a more comfortable and safer life in the UK.

There are other things to consider apart from a fully comprehensive contract.

(As far as I am aware Florida does not have personal income tax)
 
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