There are almost as many types of relocation packages as there are employees needing the assistance and the companies that hire them. The company’s financial resources and situation, the length of employment, as well as whether the employee is a homeowner or renter also play roles in determining the size and coverage offered in a relocation package.
A core or standard relocation package usually covers the costs of moving and storing furnishings and other household goods, along with help selling an existing home and costs incurred house hunting, temporary housing if necessary and all travel costs by the employee and family to the new location.
Besides the coverage itself, there are a number of ways to administer the package:
- Direct billing: The transferring company hires and directly pays for a moving company as well as costs involved in selling a current home and all other services needed to help relocate the employee and family.
- Lump sum: A set amount of money is given directly to the employee to pay for moving and related expenses. For tax purposes, the government considers this as income and therefore taxable, so to offset tax liabilities, companies often reimburse for those in the form of a gross-up (link to gross-up blog post), which frees the full amount of cash for the move. Another possible drawback is that it may be difficult to correctly estimate the total costs up front, due to unexpected out-of-pocket expenditures. If a mover’s initial estimate is lower than the actual costs, for example, the employee may have to dig into their own pockets to cover the difference.
- Reimbursement: The employee pays for everything up from and is reimbursed by the company after the move. This requires careful record keeping by the employee, including tracking all receipts for expenses. Additionally, employers will likely set a limit above which they will not reimburse.
- Third-party (outsourced) relocation: In this scenario, all logistics related to moving, including real estate or rental expenses are outsourced to a third party that coordinates a comprehensive array of services. Some of these may include marketing and sale of an existing residence, spousal employment assistance, storage of household goods, if necessary, and rental assistance.
- Expatriation assistance: This is additional relocation assistance used by multinational companies for employees relocating outside the country, beyond the typical moving and transport of household goods and real estate help. Covered benefits may include overseas trips to search for suitable housing and assistance with obtaining spousal work visas, finding and selecting schools for employees’ children and finding the way around a city in a foreign country. Language and cultural assimilation instruction offered through a relocation package serve to help the employees’ comfort zone and confidence by adjusting to the new culture and its customs.
Offering employees choices in relocation packages provides incentives for current and prospective employees to remain and pursue careers within a company. With competition among companies for top talent, offering attractive relocation packages is a win-win for both companies and employees.