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I will probably start a new job on Monday. During my work interview they told me that I would be temporary, and that they would employ me through an HR company, which is fine by me. I asked them about the salary, which was "X".

Today I got a phone call from the HR company which told me that the company was interested in employing me and told me that the salary was "Y", which is lower than "X". I wasn't comfortable on talking about the numbers on the phone and told "Okay, let's discuss this further on Friday, when I come to sign the contract."

My question is: should I accept "Y" because it's the HR company who gives me the salary (which is still higher then what I get at the moment) or should I try to negotiate?

Thanks for your answers

Cheers Ben

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    I bet the difference is the cut that the HR company is keeping. That may be negotiable. If you totally got the job yourself and the HR company just got basically a free contract then negotiate. 10% - 20% would be typical. – paparazzo Mar 17 '15 at 18:10
  • Are you happy with Y? – Hugo Rocha Mar 17 '15 at 18:34
  • i'm not particulary happy with y because the company i will work for gives x (wich is already the minumum) to all employees from my age, i will probably call the temp agency and ask if there's still some margin we can work with – Ben Mar 17 '15 at 19:36
  • Do you have the original salary offer in writing? If not, then you pretty much have nothing to fight with. – HorusKol Mar 19 '15 at 5:36
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This isn't the question you asked, but it is completely valid to tell them that you'd been offered X by the company, which is what you had accepted. Ask (nicely) for the reason you are now being offered Y.

There might be valid reasons to offer Y. It might be a mix-up and they were supposed to offer you X. If Y is what the offer really is, then you have to decide if you still want it for that amount, or if you'd rather walk away.

If the HR company is hiring and then providing people to another company, they do take a cut of the money for their overhead, for any benefits they provide to you, and for other business expenses they have. That is normal and appropriate. But that doesn't mean that there wasn't a mix-up, and it's quite valid to ask about it, just in case.

  • and could you not say that the offer offer of Y breached your contract (break down of trust) with the recruiter and go direct to the company for X – Pepone Mar 17 '15 at 22:29
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    @Pepone immediately going on the attack is probably not the best option, unless you are likely to walk away from the offer anyway. Asking as if it is a simple mistake is a much better tack to take, a better way to get a good solution. – thursdaysgeek Mar 17 '15 at 23:14
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    Also, he should email them both about this now. By saying "Okay, let's discuss this further on Friday, when I come to sign the contract." He's boxing himself into a corner. – Stephan Branczyk Mar 18 '15 at 0:52
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It depends who is paying you. If the temp agency is paying you then the difference between x and y may be their revenue for your placement. This would be the norm in Canada but I don't know if temp agencies work the same throughout the world. Bring it up regardless but don't be surprised if the actual salary is y.

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If you're being paid by the temp company, then what the client said they'd pay is pretty much irrelevant: they're not the ones paying you.

That said, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask.

How hard you push depends on whether you are willing to walk away. If the people writing the paychecks say the most they can pay you is Y, then your choice might come down to accepting Y or not getting the job. If you are willing to work there for Y, then you can try to negotiate, of course, but if ultimately you will accept Y, then that might be what you get. If you are not willing to work for Y, you can tell them that you were told X and if they can't deliver X, you are not sorry but you are not interested.

I'm not a lawyer, but if your contract is with the temp company and not the client, then I doubt that anything the client says about salary is legally binding. If I hire a contractor to paint my house, I don't decide what his employees get paid; the contractor does. Any statement I made about how much I'm paying for the workers' services is pretty much irrelevant.

  • I agree and find it very odd that the company even gave the OP a number if they were outsourcing it. Seems like the interviewer messed up. – NotMe Mar 18 '15 at 15:43
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    @notme Yes. I wonder if he quoted the amount they are paying the contracting company, or ... what? How could he even given a meaningful number? How would he know what the contracting company pays? – Jay Mar 19 '15 at 13:25
  • All around a rookie mistake. – NotMe Mar 19 '15 at 16:02
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You should prepare yourself to negotiate, but first, get some clarification and see if the discrepancy is due to a lack of communication and whether or not it can be corrected. They may just fix it.

Also, if they give you whatever reason why they can't/won't, be prepared to negotiate. That starts with determining the minimum salary you will accept before contacting anyone. If you want the higher salary, stand firm. Let them know that is what was the agreed amount.

Usually when there is some sort of mistake, people honor the original agreement. I've had one situation where someone indicated a firm salary amount during the interview, but offered a lower salary. Let's just say accepting that job was a learning experience I wish I could have obtained in an easier way.

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The HR company is a third party company which handles hiring/firing, payroll and other human resource responsibilities. In addition to collecting fees from a company to handle these business affairs, they earn money by taking a portion of the salary out of the wages of the people they place into jobs. For example; The company AAA Pizza needs to manage their HR department externally, so they hire VIP Human Resource company. AAA Pizza wants to hire a new driver for $25.00 an hour. They tell VIP to find them a new driver. VIP hires a new driver and offers them $13.00 an hour for their wages. The new driver doesn't try to negotiate a higher wage so VIP gets $12.00 an hour taken from their pay.

So.. Negotiate. Ask for more and don't be afraid to tell them that you were already offered "X" and that you understood this was the wage you would receive for the position. Don't forget that they are working for the company. They are not in a position to oppose any arrangement or offer that the company made to you. Stand you ground because most of those HR businesses will try to low-ball you in order to make the most they can off of you.

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