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  • Can my employer pay me less in a region with a higher cost of living?

Jan 2007

Q. In August 2000, I relocated by choice. When I relocated, I couldn't keep the same position with my company. Now the company has offered me a position comparable to the one I left behind, but at the pay rate I was at before my position changed. What boundaries does my company have to adhere to, and should they calculate a cost-of-living increase? My immediate supervisor told me the cost of living was lower here than where I moved from. But after doing a little research I found that the cost of living is significantly higher where I am now.

A. Since this was a voluntary move, the company is under no obligation to find you a position similar to what you had in your previous position. But although you are not in the strongest negotiation position, you do have some options.

You could ask the HR department if they would consider adjusting your current base salary to reflect the cost of the position in your new location. Of course, you can tell them you took the position based on the conversation you had with your supervisor, and see if they would adjust the salary based on the misleading advice you received.

Your second option is to ask the company whether it would consider moving you into a position that will meet your salary requirements. Of course, that will depend on whether you meet the requirements of the position.

It's always a good idea to do research ahead of time. Do not accept a position until you have used resources such as the Salary Wizard or the Personal Salary Report to determine how much a job is worth in the location where you will be working.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

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