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I immigrated from Hong Kong to Netherlands several years ago. Now my employer sends me to Hong Kong for work trips every couple of months. While I am there, I am staying at my relatives' places, thus saving my company a lot of money since it is not paying for a hotel room (~$200/night). Would it be okay if I asked for a raise given these circumstances?

EDIT:

Thanks a lot to everyone who answered. I do share the same concerns as most of you expressed here. I will most likely ask for %50 compensation in lodging costs to pass on to my relatives.

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    raise... no... but you could potentially ask for a pay out or compensation each time you travel for part of the money saved... worst they can do is say no. – RualStorge Nov 11 '14 at 21:43
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    Can you get away with having your relatives charging you for your stay, and you getting reimbursed by your company? Your relatives could probably use having the money :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 11 '14 at 23:14
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    @VietnhiPhuvan OP first should check the company's travel policy, if there is one. My company strictly forbids reimbursing any associated costs if you stay with relatives or friends while on a trip. – mkennedy Nov 12 '14 at 1:56
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    I've worked at places where the travel policy allowed a gift to someone who you stayed with in lieu of a hotel bill. Definitely check the policy. – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Nov 12 '14 at 2:19
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    @mkennedy travel policies can differ a lot in this point. My former company officially paid out a compensation for employees who got a stay at no cost or at a discount. That compensation depended on the destination and was fixed, below the hotel rates that were allowed by the travel policy, thus employees claiming this compensation rather than reimbursement for a hotel would also save the company money. – user149408 Nov 12 '14 at 17:04
53

Would it be okay if I asked for a raise given these circumstances?

This would be a bit out of the ordinary. Most companies want their employees to participate in cost savings.

How to get what you want?

What I would do is ask if your company can do a per diem type arrangement instead of reimbursement. This is when a company gives you a set amount of money for your expenses, based on location, and allows each employee to choose how they spend the amount. In your case you could basically keep all of it.

For example, for the United States, you can look up charts describing how much money is associated with a nights lodging in Washington DC.

17

A raise is, by design, a permanent change to your compensation. Staying with relatives when you travel is a temporary cost savings; it's only a factor so long as (a) they continue sending you there and (b) your relatives continue to offer you accommodations. Asking for a permanent increase in compensation for a temporary reason is almost always a bad idea in my experience.

What you can do is to ask for small one-time "bonuses", not necessarily cash. I once stayed with friends during a conference and asked for a couple extra vacation days (treated as comp time, not a permanent increase in PTO) in exchange, pointing out that I'd saved them $X and the "cost" (daily salary) of the vacation days was <$X. They went along with that, and because we didn't have to submit timesheets my manager was able to just say "do it" and not do any paperwork.

You'll note the use of "<" in "<$X" above. I've found it a good practice, when asking for informal compensation, to always ask for a little less than what the strict number-crunching suggests. If you seem to be accounting for things down to the penny, it can raise concerns about what else you're being that precise about -- for example, are you leaving when you've logged exactly 40 hours for the week, even if another hour or two would make a big difference to somebody? Don't raise those doubts if you're salaried (rather than paid by the hour).

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One way to possible way to phrase the question would be to ask if the company could help compensate a portion of hotel price so that you could pass it on to your relatives, help pay for stuff, etc.

While not strictly the truth, I don't think it would be an unreasonable request if your relative asked for some compensation from you, so I doubt the company will find it offensive, at the very least.

  • I used to work for a company that had a special expenses rate for exactly this. – Dan Nov 11 '14 at 22:23
  • @Dan Yes, me too. It's fairly common I think. – Tim B Nov 12 '14 at 11:25
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I don't suggest it. Costs for doing business fluctuate all the time. Yes, you're saving on hotels, but what if other costs of travel increase? Are you going to take a pay reduction?

Travel costs compared to employee payroll have other taxes involved, so the money may not be a 1 to 1 match. You're going to have to do the math.

Maybe your relatives could charge you? Don't forget to keep the receipts ;)

  • Getting relatives to bill you is probably a bad idea. At the very least, you should disclose it fully to the employer if this is what you do. They'll probably say no for tax reasons: the tax man might see it as a fraudulent way of funneling money to you via your family without paying income tax on it. – David Richerby Nov 11 '14 at 23:06
  • @DavidRicherby - could use Airbnb or some other service. An employee travels to a foreign country, an expense of some kind is expected. Business travelers rarely sleep in their rent a car. – user8365 Nov 12 '14 at 14:59
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    Yes, an expense is expected. But that expense is expected to be receipted to a legitimate business, not "Oh, my aunt wrote me a note saying I owe her X amount of money." – David Richerby Nov 12 '14 at 15:17
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Most likely not, but you can always ask.

If you are a consultant, your hotel costs are probably billed straight through to the client so you would be saving the client money and not your company.

If you are an employee, giving you a raise equivalent to the amount you are saving the company in hotel costs would cost the company more than that amount.

If your travel schedule stops, then the company saves 100% of your travel costs but still continues to have to pay you a higher salary if they give you a raise. Similarly, if your circumstances in Hong Kong change and you need to stay in a hotel, the company still has to pay those costs while paying you your higher salary.

  • Your last paragraph is easily addressed by an agreement that the pay rise is reversed if the situation changes. – David Richerby Nov 11 '14 at 22:59
  • @DavidRicherby Reversing the pay raise would be complicated. – Eric Nov 12 '14 at 2:08
  • Also, y9uo have to cond=sider that travel money is generally in a differnt accounting bucket than slary and they may not be able to move the money based on contractual rules. I can;t spend money that the contract gives me for travel on salalry generally. – HLGEM Apr 13 '15 at 18:25
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In most companies I've worked at where I've had to do travelling, there's been a flat rate of around £25 (~ $40US) per night if you are staying with friends rather than at a hotel. This is in addition to the per diem, did not require a receipt, and is up to the employee how it's split between them and their host.

I would not think it appropriate to ask for a raise, but I would ask to see if there is a similar payment in your company, and make a case for one if there is not.

(I'm in the UK)

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