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I was hired by a multinational company in Spain recently. I work as a programmer and they did call me offering better conditions (salary and calendar), so I was agree with it.

In the interview process I asked about the chance of travelling for meetings or small periods in the overseas, as the company has subsidiaries in italy and also UK. I was told that the position would be exclusively located in spain.

That was six months ago, however things have changed so quickly and now there's a vacancy in the UK office, because they fired a guy and they havent managed to fill the position and they want to send me for a while there. Even if I have a long term contract, there's no definition on how that kind of relocations need to be done in the company. Some of the People were sent and worked with a british contract, others (the least) have been there with the spanish contract and were paid for acommodation.

Now there are three People playing here, the head of department, my boss and the head of human resources (which is New in the company). I know there's a lot of work in the English office so the head of department (which is above my boss) considered sending me there for short periods, coming back to spain and paying me the transport, acommodation and food. It seemed too expensive, all in all.

I was called by HR today and they made me a british contract offer, for six months, paying me the same money and no acommodation. I declined it, with the argument that im paying much less for my spanish flat rent that what i would for a decent properly in UK. Apart from that, I think keeping my spanish contract and being paid in euros (now brexit is coming) sounds much better, with a plus for the acommodation

Later on, I went to speak with my boss and he was kind of surprised because of that words (it seems they havent spoken about the conditions before) and when I told him about the diferences in acommodation between spain and UK, he told me his going to speak with the department head and asked me for my rent contract (I dont think this is very moral). It seems he wants to compensate me with the difference.

It looks like that the Last Word will be for the head of department, but I consider I should be fully paid for acommodation. Even if i've been in the company only for six months I've got eight years of experience in programming and a move would involve me leaving my current flat (and flatmate) and my girlfriend here, also my family and to be in kind of 24/7 for the company.

My question is, am I in the position of requiring them to keep my spanish contract and fully pay me for acommodation? Should I give my boss a copy from my current flat rental? I know the company could consider firing me (its little money), but they currently lack of IT people in spain too (same way as in england).

Edit

Today I reviewed the company conditions and going with my current contract would involve a plus of 21€ per day (which seems fair for accomodation). Apart from that this would have important tax benefits for me.. It looks like all of this comes from my company with the aim to save around 4K €..

  • England is big. Where exactly in England? There's a huge difference in cost. – gnasher729 Sep 24 '18 at 23:10
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    @gnasher, I Know.. Bristol area – user92505 Sep 25 '18 at 0:17
  • Seems reasonable that if you are claiming a differential in rental costs that you should provide backup information, especially if you want compensation in some form based on this. – cdkMoose Sep 25 '18 at 16:16
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    I don't know Bristol but I live in Cambridge and 21 € per day are definitely not a fair compensation. They can cover (maybe) the very basic costs if your requirements are extremely frugal but you won't save a penny for your trouble. Temporary transfers must be adequately compensated – Adriano Repetti Sep 25 '18 at 18:10
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    You should absolutely not have to give up your flat in Spain (even if you did, are they offering to pay for storage for your things, compensation to the landlord for a broken lease, costs for breaking other contracts, like 'phone & internet). Especially not for such a short time. Possibly for 2 years or more. For this it is normal that you keep your home and the company pays for a flat or hotel overseas, which they should arrange, not you. If other costs, like food, are more expensive, ask for a per diem living allowance too. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Sep 27 '18 at 9:16
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Coming from a neighbour country with very similar laws to Spain, this situation seems very fishy.

Firstly, they have whatsoever no business looking at your renting contract. Tell them to back off, that is non negotiable. Your private life is your private life.

As you say it very well, the UK expenses are of another different level, and the quality of life with the same amount of money so far less. Plus, the weather sucks compared to Spain - and going just before Winter, you will get the brunt of it.

On the other hand, the bad news is that Spain has nowadays very similar salaries to the UK in the IT profession. Nevertheless, I would never ever accept working for the same amount of money in the UK as in Spain.

Furthermore, giving you a British contract and sending you there for a while does not makes sense. Either they are not telling you the whole truth, or they are weaselling out of paying you a per diem+expenses+acommodation to be abroad.

It does not make sense at all giving you a "British contract", if you are supposed to come back after a couple of months. There are also nuances about taxes/social security/retirement pensions/time of tenure/extra holiday days, which can get more pronounced if those 6 months extend further on time.

They might also breaking Spanish or UK laws, or most probably they are not telling you are being transferred/rented/subcontracted to the UK office, and that whole "UK contract" is just a white lie.

I would not sign any of those "contracts" without showing the final versions to a lawyer specialised in labor law.

Furthermore, while the whole Expat thing is not as it used to be, I leave here this related link My company committed to having me 4 months overseas without asking. How do I approach this?

As you say well, the fact they need you in both countries places you in a good bargaining position. Pick up your battles well, and get a professional opinion ASAP.

Nevertheless, those people are not playing fair with you, and are trying to shaft you. Use your best judgment how do you plan to deal with them over the long term.

As I said in a linked related question, you are doing business. If you intention is staying in Spain in the long term, press for going for shorter terms with everything paid. Besides the money, you will have the added advantage that time will count as being on service in Spain and taxes will be paid in Spain.

The original scenario, while expensive, seems much more fair and more on line what is commonly done. Being transfered to the UK office, and back after 6 months seems rather fishy. Additionally, in UK law,depending on the type of contract, if hired as a consultant, it can also be construed as an illegal contract without you having an aditional customer, so be aware.

PS. Per law here in Portugal, the per diem exempt of taxes to be in work commission out of the country, can be up to 90-100 Euros per day, + food + accommodation + transportation on top of your normal salary - for the UK I would not be much surprised into a 50-90 Euros per diem range; I used to travel a lot abroad in the past. I also do not know Spain values, but they should be similar or greater.

PS2. Even if this values to seem exaggerated, they are still far cheaper than contracting a consulting firm/freelance consultant.

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    Gosh, your situation shows well why I always tend to decline Spanish offerings. What a mess. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 24 '18 at 22:27
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    It is not your concern at all the previous guy did not negotiate well...call their bluff on the "precedent" bull crap. In reality there are also no minimum here set by law, I am quoting the max values exempt of taxes as they are +- standard. I used to be paid those values many moons ago. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 24 '18 at 22:45
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    Remember that if they want you to stay for more than 7 months, things might get complicated, because you would not be in the EU anymore. – gnasher729 Sep 24 '18 at 23:13
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    About other nuances. 2 weeks holidays in the UK vs 1 month in Spain. I would also look into the special case that if you can prove you are not there more than 180 days in a year, than you are not a resident for most taxes purposes. Talk with both a lawyer and a competent accountant. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 25 '18 at 6:21
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    Ultimately, this just be a very contrived way of getting a cheaper resource UK based. What does prevent you from work remotely in the Spanish office? I would prefer finding another job than getting moving without due compensations. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 25 '18 at 10:18
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am I in the position of requiring them to keep my spanish contract and fully pay me for acommodation

If you who are working there do not know what your company is willing to agree with, much less will random strangers in the internet know.

Now, if you are convinced that the company will not try to fire you as punishment for refusing their offer, a reasonable approach would be to consider their offer the same as if it came from another unrelated company: they tell you what they offer you, you tell them what do you want, and if an agreement is reached then you switch jobs, otherwise you stay where your are.

Given that it is them who seem more interested in you moving, make clear to them that they must give you a convincing proposal1. And certainly, you do not need to justify yourself if their proposal is not good.

Will they try (or threaten) to fire you? Again, you are the best judge to that. This kind of tactics seem rather dumb (either they fire an employee that they need to replace in Spain, or they get a very disgruntled employee in London who will leave at the first opportunity, AND they have to get a new employee in Spain). But, unfortunately, some managers ARE dumb and we cannot tell if yours are.


1IMO a very bare minimum would be asking the same that a local programmer of your experience would get in the UK office. Of course, that will require that you do some research.

  • Thank you for the explanation! I Know it is difficult to guess for random People from the Internet, but I was just seeking for an objective view point for the situation! :-p – user92505 Sep 24 '18 at 22:01
  • The bare minimum can and will be getting less money in the bank at the end of the month and after expenses deducted. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 25 '18 at 10:15

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