Dear Joyce: After several dry years when employers preferred local candidates to avoid paying relocation costs, a friend has been offered an overseas job. That motivates me to think about the same career direction, but I'm worried about costs, taxes and security. What's the relocation situation today?
Dear H.G.: As an employee benefit, relocation is reviving after the slumber you mentioned, and the revival isn't cheap. According to Workforce Management magazine (www.workforce.com; scroll down to Topic Index, then click on Relocation Management and Relocation Services), the average relocation cost per homeowner employee is $65,000, but costs rise if you're relocated to another country.
The relocation services industry is, in large part, sending Americans abroad because of the economic growth in countries such as China and India, together said to have 40 percent of the world's population. These two countries have just bonded to control industries such as information technology (China for hardware, India for software).
Outsourcing relocation services is becoming the norm. The body of knowledge required, especially for overseas assignments -- immigration law, visas, work permits, taxes, security concerns, pet boarding, readjustment counseling, repatriation, cross-cultural counseling -- is becoming too much for thinned-out human resource departments.
Some companies offer one relocation package to all, but others extend benefits in tier groups depending on your value to the company.
Changing times mean changing relocation benefit packages. Inform yourself. Don't miss out if you are shifting locales.
Retire or be fired
Dear Joyce: My 66-year-old father has worked as a respiratory therapist in the same hospital for 20 years without any major issues. Recently he was told to resign. The HR people typed up the resignation letter and got him to sign it by using what I would call threats -- "You will have to leave here one way or the other."
Does an employee his age have any legal recourse? Most lawyers charge fees that he cannot afford. What now?
Dear B.C.: Yes, the federal age discrimination law covers your dad, but the harsh reality is that it will probably take a lawsuit to secure his rights. Your dad can contact the local bar association to determine if low-cost legal help is available.
He can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Commission (www.eeoc.gov) at no cost to see about filing a complaint.
If he was actually told his choice was "retire or be fired," management is playing hardball and will probably fight like a tiger to defend its position. Does your dad have the energy for a protracted battle?
Another consideration: Events may have overtaken his education and training. If your dad lacks the current required training for therapists -- an associate degree or, better, a bachelor's degree plus certification -- by today's reckoning he is a lower-level worker, a respiratory therapy technician.
The therapists most in demand are those with cardiopulmonary skills or experience working with newborns and infants. (Look up respiratory therapists at www.bls.gov.)
Your dad probably feels like a used and discarded tissue. That's just not right. Unless he was making mistakes that forced hospital management to act as ruthlessly as it did, a more decent approach would have been to allow your dad to ease into phased retirement, say cutting back to 70 percent, then later 50 percent and so on.
An alterative direction for your dad is to pursue a third-act career as a substitute respiratory therapist for his former employer and other hospitals in his locale.
Contact Joyce Lain Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org (use "Reader Question" for subject line) or P.O. Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.