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How do I negotiate for a cost-of-living adjustment?

When a company downsizes, many people are asked to pick up their roots and move to other parts of the country to continue working. It's important for those workers to research the differences in cost of living inherent to both locations.

Q. My facility just was closed. Approximately 80 hourly employees were eliminated, as well as 90 percent of the salaried workforce. I am one of the lucky 10 percent who are being offered positions at a different location. I currently live in a state that has a low cost of living and will most likely be asked to move to a state that has a much higher cost of living. Would it be out of place to ask for that increase in my salary?

A. The first thing I would do is speak to my Human Resources Representative and find out what the company's compensation philosophy is. A company's compensation philosophy will typically tell you whether they believe in paying their employees a competitive local market rate. If your company's compensation strategy is to pay their employees a competitive rate then your company will most likely adjust your salary to reflect your new job in a different part of the country.

Then, ask your Human Resources Representative what your new salary will be when you move to your new location and if the company will cover any relocation costs you might incure if you decide to accept. Remember, whatever you're told verbally make sure you get in writing. Also make sure your new manager is aware of the offer. If the company informs you that they will not be adjusting your salary then you should consider all the available options.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Consultant

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