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To my knowledge, I'm in an unusual situation for my field (engineering). I am technically an employee of a Staffing Agency and working on a 9 month contract for them at a Consulting Firm, which I started in February.

The Consulting Firm intends to hire me at the end of the contract, which will end in October. Prior to that point, the Consulting Firm and I will need to sit down and discuss a few things, but an element I'm particularly interested in is negotiating my start date.

Technically, my start date would be in October since that is when I was actually an employee with them, but for a variety of benefit reasons based on my knowledge of the Consulting Firm's benefits package, I would like to have my start date be in February. Specifically, I would like my insurance to kick in as soon as possible, my personal leave accrual to factor that in (I am getting next to nothing with the Staffing Agency), 401k benefits, and paternity leave applicability.

Some elements of this seem like they might run afoul of legal issues (insurance) and thus be unviable, but others seem like they just require the company president to waive a wand and make it so (PTO, paternity, 401k). Is this perception accurate or is the whole thing fraught with legal issues to make it a non-starter?

  • Are you suggesting that when the contract ends in October you want a 4 month break so that you can start the following February? Or are you suggesting that you want to start in October but have your start-date backdated by 8 months to the prior February? – Justin Cave Jul 20 '18 at 21:46
  • Backdated to the February when I started. – Pyrotechnical Jul 20 '18 at 23:27
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Backdating your start date is (or should be) a non-starter, way too much hassle and way too much potential to violate laws. If the company claims you started working in February but payroll shows that you didn't get a check for 8 months, you'd cause all sorts of grief if the government came calling (the IRS would be concerned about missing taxes, the state would be concerned that they violated minimum wage laws, etc.) You can, however, potentially negotiate on some points to get the benefits you want early (which I assume is your actual goal).

Getting early access to the 401(k) is a non-starter. There are laws (ERISA chiefly) that ensure that every employee is treated the same in retirement plans in order to prevent companies from having one set of rules that makes participation easy for a small number of folks and harder for everyone else.

Reducing the waiting period for insurance is possible but likely both expensive and a major hassle. If the company already has multiple benefit classes, some that get immediate coverage and some that get coverage after 90 days, you may be able to get added to the more advantageous benefit class. If the company has to add a new benefit class just for you, that's likely a rather large undertaking. How large depends on things like whether the company self-insures but it's a huge ask if they're not already set up to provide day 1 coverage.

For benefits that are purely provided by the company like PTO, you can certainly negotiate. It's common enough for people to negotiate an extra week of PTO, for example, so you can certainly ask about that. The same thing should apply to paternity leave eligibility and other benefits where the employer sets the rules.

  • yes, too many potential nightmares – Kilisi Jul 21 '18 at 0:08

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