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NINE TO FIVE

I’m facing a longer commute. Should I ask for more pay? Add to ...

THE QUESTION

My employer is relocating offices in a few months and the new location will require that I commute an extra 45 kilometres every day. Is it reasonable to ask for more compensation for this? How do I determine how much more? And how do I go about asking for it?

The job is worth the commute, but I want to be compensated for it.

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THE FIRST ANSWER

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

Your employer does not have to compensate you when they move offices. But it is worth asking for some assistance.

Your time will not be compensated, so there’s no point going down that road. If your transit fees will be higher, you could ask for the difference between what you pay now and what you will pay. If you are driving, calculate the added mileage at a minimum of 45 cents a kilometer to determine how much extra you’ll pay in gas and car maintenance.

Though there is no rule of thumb, the most common practice is to ask for compensation to defray the travelling expenses for the first three months. After the three months, you can decide to move closer to your new workplace or continue at your own expense. For some employees, this move may shorten their commute time and you can be sure that they aren’t being compensated for the longer distance they travel right now.

If you decide to move closer to the job, you could ask for assistance with your moving expenses. Your negotiating point would be that if you were being transferred to another city, the company would pay your expenses, so why not for being “transferred” 45 kilometres away?

Depending on your relationship with the decision maker, you can either write a request or present your case in a meeting. I would suggest a meeting, but it is up to your comfort level. Be prepared to be refused. Know in your mind what you will do if the company refuses your request.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Billy Anderson

Founder, Made You Think Coaching, Toronto

Commuting can be exhausting in addition to the extra expense. While I’ve never heard of anyone getting compensation for this when the increase in their commute is only 45 kilometres, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try.

Most organizations want to avoid monetary payments or salary increases for a number of reasons. Therefore it’s wise to have other options to discuss, too.

But first, are you more concerned about the added expense or do you simply hate the idea of a longer commute? Will less free time each day have a negative impact on your personal relationships and responsibilities? Monetary compensation won’t solve that problem.

If it’s the additional commuting time that you dislike, you could ask for more flexible work hours to avoid rush-hour traffic, one work-from-home day each week, or a few extra vacation days. Those options don’t cost the company anything on paper. Obviously, the feasibility of this depends on the nature of your job.

If it’s strictly a monetary concern, there is no harm in asking for a raise but your organization might be more receptive to a parking pass or public transit pass.

Either way, make it clear that you want to stay with the company and explain how you feel the added commute will affect you. Providing options shows that you are willing to be flexible.

Keep in mind that your success will partly depend on your boss’s willingness to ask for more on your behalf, if your boss doesn’t have the power to make the decision on his or her own.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to mailto:ninetofive@globeandmail.com..

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