You are an HR Director…

You moved a family with three children to London at the start of the academic year.  As a result of the recession, you are moving the assignee home next week.  The family of 5 is on an expat package, and you are not prepared to continue paying the expat allowance until the school year is completed.

The spouse, who was reluctant to move at the outset because she feared her children’s transitions, is beside herself.

What do you do next?



4 Responses to You are an HR Director…

  1. Vicky Singh says:

    Not an easy solution to this situation….however, when tackling a challenge such as this one I would first encourage the assignee to look at the bright side….in this case, the fact that there is still a job to come back to. To have to cut back on an allowance (ie: school fees) already granted can be extremely tough to handle but to be able to empathize by showing compassion, support and guidance, one can at least feel like the burden is somewhat shared and therefore, eased. In short, to be honest, straight forward, compassionate and patient will aid in helping a person feel dignity and respect despite the nature of the dilemma.

  2. Sara S. says:

    While the assignee (working spouse) may come home immediately to a new corporate assignment, the wife and children can certainly stay to finish the school year because the tuition has already been paid. (In fact, the corporation may already have paid for the next academic year – enrollment contracts are signed in February or March.) Regarding other expat package benefits, primarily lease on a flat and use of corporate car/fuel, in France, for example the minimum lease is three years – so the company would already be obligated to the terms of the lease. True, there is usually a provision that the lease can be broken if a work contract is pulled due to corporate relocation. However, the family should do everything possible to finish the school year – even if this means picking up three or four months rent.

    Most fortunate, is that the spouse has a job to come back to. Also, in the course of the negotiation regarding repatriation and new assignment, the door is open to conversations regarding how to finish out the last few months of the school year with least disruption to the family. For example, perhaps they can apply the temporary housing allowance that would be rewarded on the repatriation side toward staying in their London flat. Or they could agree to ship fewer household goods – smaller container? – in exchange for remaining in their London home to end of school year. There is always opportunity for some creativity in negotiation – with the clear goal of doing whatever it takes to let the children finish the school year.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Great thoughts by Vicky and Sara.

    As the HR representative, I would suggest that the family consider that each year of a student’s education has positives and negatives. Look at one year at a time. Education is cumulative.

    Hopefully there were some positive aspects of the move be they academic, social, or maybe the family pulling together and having had more time together. If everything just worked very well as the result of the move, then the first part of the year may have been a big success and an experience to look back upon as a positive accomplishment for the family.

    Assuming the exit has some negotiation room for personal, and financial issues, the family should develop a plan. Have a family meeting as each member should be a part of planning for the future. It may be as simple as making a list of their needs, organizing by category and priority.

    I would remind the family that as far as finding schools for the remainder of next year, due to the worldwide economy, private schools may take in students for the last quarter revenue now. And typically, all schools certainly experience moves in students over the summer. In US, one may start public school almost immediately with proper paperwork.

    Consider pros and cons, then be decisive as there is a rationale for either:

    1) Completing the school year in place and moving the students back at the end of school year, or

    2) Move students now. Parents should secure space at private or public schools immediately and take the rest of the school year with new school staff who will get to know the students. Family should ask for a team meeting of teachers and guidance counselor, or principal, so family gets comfortable in the second educational setting of the current school year. Then the family should use the remaining months to evaluate the academic, social and extra curricular offerings due to the mid-year move and begin to preparation for best possible situation at beginning of the next school year.

    Final thoughts: Planning and embracing change is an essential skill, necessary for 21st century lifestyles, now and in all our futures.

  4. Doreen says:

    What great advice, my compliments to the writers who embrace the challenge and look for positive outcomes to what seems an impossible family situation. Negotiate, plan, gather together as a family are life long skills that will guide the children.

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