Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

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miriam
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Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by miriam » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:52 pm

I spent about £300 going up to Inverness for a job interview earlier this year. I genuinely wanted to consider the post, explore the area and was up for moving up to the area. I was offered the job, and spent some time giving it serious consideration. I asked some additional questions to clarify the offer, and was assured that I'd get the top point of the band and a full quota of annual leave, time to see through my national committee commitments and various other things that made me feel quite positive about it. They also sent me their relocation policy.

However, having spoken to the previous incumbent and done some asking around, I found that all other heads of child psychology in Scotland are banded as band 8D, whilst this was a band 8C post and that there was a history of very difficult inter-professional relationships in the department. I also researched the relocation costs, and thought they would substantially exceed the package being offered. Finally, having visited the area, I felt that it was even more remote in practise than I had expected, with a typical 3 hour commute to the nearest other town and only one flight per day to the areas that my friends and family members live in.

I thus reluctantly declined the post, writing a polite email to say:
I have thought long and hard about this offer, but I am forced to conclude that it isn't the right move for me and to decline your offer. This is partly reflecting the banding of the post (as I would hope to attain an 8D and I note that all other child psychology leads in Scotland have this banding), partly the mammoth costs of relocation (totalling around 6 months salary) and partly to do with the more remote location being so removed from family and friends.

I'm sorry that I've taken two weeks to reach this decision, but I felt like I needed to gather lots of information to make the decision (get our house valued, get quotes on removals, speak to my accountant about the financial status of my business and current level of income, look at the property/school options in Inverness, speak to colleagues who work in Scotland about the service, connect with academics in the region and review my ongoing commitments).

I wish you well in finding the right person for the job, and I envy the beauty of your surroundings.

I will submit my expenses asap.
They replied to say they were sorry that I had declined the post, and noted frustration that I had taken 2 weeks to make my decision.

However, once I submitted my expense claim they have refused to pay it, citing that the policy does not reimburse expenses where the applicant refuses an offer of appointment on grounds that are considered inadequate. They feel that my reasons were "inadequate" because the location, banding and relocation expenses are all factors which should have been taken into account prior to interview.

I'm quite annoyed. I think that I went into the interview process with a genuine intention to take the post, and I invested 3 days of my own time in exploring the area, and then did a lot of research about the pros and cons of taking the post before reaching a decision based on the people I had met, the venues and the information I learnt about the service. I was also really frugal with my claim - I flew with easyjet and stayed in a fairly low cost hotel, hired the smallest possible car for less than the taxi to and from the airport and paid for my own petrol. I wasn't just hoping for a free holiday to Inverness and using the interview as an excuse. Plus they gave me no warning they were not going to pay the expenses in our prior correspondence.

But I am biased. What seems reasonable to other people? Shall I challenge this, or let it lie?
Miriam

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reefflex
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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by reefflex » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:22 pm

Hi Miriam,

All I can say is what rudeness on their part, and also this is evidence enough that you have dodged a bullet not taking the job, over and above your other information about problems in the department.

If you are feeling militant, I would write a formal grievance to the Head of HR as unless they clearly define "inadequate" then this feels like a punitive rather than a reasoned response - banding, relocation costs etc are all up for negotiation once they have made you an inital job offer, so to say they were known prior to interview is nonsense. But don't do it for the money, do it to give them all a headache and a hassle, and treat it like a chess game rather than getting drawn into it personally.

If you are feeling zen-like (and you can afford the financial blow), then I wouldn't invest a single second more of your time and feelings, let it ride and be thankful your careful and comprehensive approach detected the thinly veiled toxicity that might have awaited you.

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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by Biggsy1988 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:35 pm

I don't think it would be unreasonable to challenge this. You interviewed in good faith of taking the post but several factors made this unfeasible. As reefflex said it seems a little punative on their part. You never know if you challenge it you may get a favourable result.
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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by Spatch » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:53 pm

However, once I submitted my expense claim they have refused to pay it, citing that the policy does not reimburse expenses where the applicant refuses an offer of appointment on grounds that are considered inadequate. They feel that my reasons were "inadequate" because the location, banding and relocation expenses are all factors which should have been taken into account prior to interview.

I would want to know if this was a Trust-wide written HR policy (and if this was stated), or if this something that a lower level manager is trying to pull in order to save a few quid from their local budget. I think it would be reasonable to request that, and see if this policy was clearly visible for applicants.

If they were clear about this, I think you have less room to manoever. Also before embarking ono this I would question if the juice is worth the squeeze on this, because Trust HR /lawyers can drag their heels and make things needlessly long winded and unpleasant.

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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by miriam » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:40 pm

Thanks for the comments. I decided it was worth an email.
Dear X,

I was most disappointed to receive your letter today, refusing to pay my relocation expenses for attending interview in Inverness. I would wish to challenge this decision which I feel is unfair, as I attended the interview in good faith intending to take the position if it was offered.

I invested a lot of time and effort in coming to the interview. I spent time researching the service and area, and in preparing for the interview presentation. I spent 3 days in the Inverness area finding out about the catchment, locality, housing and education options for my family and transport links. I spoke to members of staff, members of the community, potential colleagues and the previous incumbent of the post. As well as the expenses for which I seek reimbursement, I lost income doing this as I am self-employed and I was not paid for this time. I did this because I was serious about the job opportunity.

I was also really frugal with my claim. I didn't park in the full price airport parking, I saved money by parking offsite and spending time getting the bus in. I flew with easyjet and stayed in a fairly low cost hotel, hired the smallest possible car and paid for my own petrol. I made no claim for subsistence. I wasn't just hoping for a free holiday to Inverness and using the interview as an excuse.

After I received the job offer I researched the costs and timescales involved in relocating, and found them to be massively in excess of my expectations. I had asked at interview about the expected starting date, and whether I would be eligible for a relocation package (and I note that the document describing the package NHS Highland offer for reimbursing relocation expenses was only sent to me after receiving the job offer, and thus was not something I could evaluate in advance).

Having visited the area in person, I felt that it was even more remote in practise than I had expected. I found the flights uncomfortable and time consuming, and thought they would be difficult for our elderly parents. I was also concerned about how we would maintain relationships with only one flight per day to the areas that my friends and family members live in. I also struggled to find supermarkets that sold organic, wholefood and vegetarian produce in the area, which was not something I had anticipated, but is significant as we are a vegetarian family and on top of this we have some dietary restrictions due to migraine/allergies. With a typical 3 hour commute to the nearest city, this would be very different to living in our current location where such products are widely available.

However the other two reasons were the deal breaker. Having spoken to the previous incumbent and done some asking around, I found that all other heads of child psychology in Scotland are banded as band 8D, whilst this was a band 8C post. I did not know prior to interview that the post was not equivalently salaried to parallel posts in the rest of Scotland. I also discovered that there was a history of very difficult inter-professional relationships in the department (some people I spoke to used words like "poisonous" and "bullying") which is something I take very seriously and find aversive. Again, this was something I did not know prior to that point.

I feel that I came to the interview intending to accept the job if it was offered, and that I minimised the expenses that I claimed. I also feel that my reasons for declining the job are absolutely legitimate, and reflect information that was not available to me prior to interview. I would thus urge you to reconsider your claim that my reasons are "inadequate" or due to "factors that should have been taken into account before going through the interview process" as this is manifestly not the case, even if I expressed my reasons in an understated and polite manner when declining the job offer. It seems a lot more like sour grapes to me - that the trust wants to penalise me financially for my decision to decline the post, rather than to address the reasons the post was not attractive to me.

I liked Inverness and most of the people I met there, and came away with no ill feeling. I have always felt quite positively about NHS Scotland and would still consider applying if an 8D post came up there. It would be a shame if my negative experience in relation to a simple expense claim were to effect this.

I should note that if your final decision is to decline the claim, I will then be taking legal advice.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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HedleyLamarr
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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by HedleyLamarr » Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:49 am

miriam wrote:What seems reasonable to other people?
Generally, I think both positions seem quite reasonable – for you to say you’re not going to spend time and energy researching all the consequences of taking a job you might not be offered, and for them to say we expect people to have done their research before they make an application.

However, I think the point you make about moving expenses is a bit different – as you say, you don’t get this information until the job is offered yet they must have at least some awareness that the costs will potentially be considerable, given their remote location. So that seems much more clear-cut to me.

Having said all that, I think denying you travelling expenses on the back of this seems like a rather petty thing to do and it doesn't reflect well on the health board - regardless of who ultimately made the decision, it comes across as if they’ve went in a bit of a huff with you. People recruiting at some health boards need to realise that they’re often operating in a seller’s market (which I imagine is more the case for jobs at that level and probably in that location too) and it isn’t wise to get people’s backs up. Especially not when they can post all about it on a widely read forum...
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trainee15
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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by trainee15 » Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:15 pm

I wonder if this is a Scottish policy. I had interviews at the Glasgow and Edinburgh courses and they quite clearly stated that there would be no refund of travel expenses if the job was offered and declined. That was made clear in advance though so maybe not much help.

Also on an unrelated note, I thought it was interesting how rural and remote you found it! I'm from there and never found it remote so it always interests me to see other perspectives!

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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by miriam » Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:21 pm

Utterly beautiful area and I love Scotland, but I live in a city with four times the population half an hour outside London, so it was quite a contrast.
Miriam

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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by char78 » Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:36 pm

Admittedly it was quite a few years ago now, but when attending interviews for the training courses, it was standard across all the courses (that I applied to and was interviewed for) that expenses would not be paid for if you were offered a place and declined it. So I was in the (un)fortunate position of having paid to travel and stay over at four different locations only to get my expenses paid for from one course, that happened to be the nearest and cheapest in terms of expenses! I personally do not think it us unsurprising given how expensive interviewing is (for the trust) and the current climate that expenses are not paid in these circumstances, though I suspect others may disagree.

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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by miriam » Fri Sep 26, 2014 11:30 pm

That is harsh Char78!

I received a reply saying that they would pass my appeal up to the regional manager, so I'll wait and see the outcome.

Its not the end of the world, but I do feel like it was more the case that my time was wasted than that I wasted theirs, if you see what I mean. But even so, I enjoyed seeing the Inverness area, and I drove all around Loch Ness, and went to a lovely pottery/cafe, and I got some butter tablet :D
Miriam

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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by matt.berlin » Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:48 pm

I've not known travelling expenses to be paid for NHS interviews in London. In fact, adverts often explicitly say they don't pay expenses. Perhaps because the NHS in London assumes everyone lives in London and has a travelcard on their Oyster. However, this case seems a bit harsh if they suggested that expenses would be paid and then they went back on it.
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miriam
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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by miriam » Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:51 pm

I should have been more explicit perhaps, in stating that Highlands have struggled to recruit and this is part of a regional recruitment policy. They advertise that they offer reimbursement of travel expenses for all interview candidates, and they send out a claim form with the invitation to interview.
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trainee15
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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by trainee15 » Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:01 pm

miriam wrote:I should have been more explicit perhaps, in stating that Highlands have struggled to recruit and this is part of a regional recruitment policy. They advertise that they offer reimbursement of travel expenses for all interview candidates, and they send out a claim form with the invitation to interview.
That changes it a bit then! If they didn't make it explicit that expenses wouldn't be reimbursed if you declined then they really need to pay out! Have you definitely turned the job down and made your mind up 100%?

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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by miriam » Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:51 pm

Yeah, the offer was made at interview several months ago. I thought it over seriously, but declined within a fortnight. I'm pretty clear I need to reduce the amount of court work that I do, and I'm ambivalent about some aspects of running a business, but I wouldn't make my family relocate or return to the NHS unless I was absolutely sure it was the right job for me.
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Re: Refused travel expenses because I declined the job

Post by lizzabadger » Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:13 pm

If they didn't make it clear they should pay up. I got transatlantic travel expenses refunded when I didn't take an academic job.

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