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Exceptions- Can't live with them, can't live without them

by Jill McDonald

Despite best efforts to build a mobility program that is thorough and comprehensive, it seems someone will request an exception.  Relocation involves so many individual circumstances that policies cannot be all-inclusive; creating a need for the Miscellaneous Allowance benefit which is designed to offset costs not specifically covered by policy.  If an allowance is provided, the transferee should be directed to this benefit to cover the exception costs.

SIRVA recommends that the overall policy explicitly state how the company feels about exceptions, including that failure to follow the established process may result in a personal expense or inconvenience to the transferee.  In addition to stating in policy how the company feels about exceptions, there should be a formal exception process in place. 

  • Exceptions should be submitted in writing to the Relocation Consultant (or a company representative). To help reduce exceptions, require that all requests be submitted before the expense is incurred.
  • Determine if the request is justified. When an exception is submitted in writing to the Relocation Consultant, he/she should research the transferee’s move such as costs already incurred, estimated costs for the exception, and if the transferee has been following the procedures and processes outlined in policy. 
  • All exceptions should require the final approval of the company before a commitment can be made. If the exception is justified, the Relocation Consultant would submit the formal request, along with his or her comments, to the company’s HR department contact. 
  • Notify the transferee of decision. Once the approval has been determined, the Relocation Consultant should contact the transferee.

It is best practice for all exceptions to be documented in an exception report/database.  On a quarterly or annual basis, the exceptions should be reviewed based on frequency and cost to potentially uncover any changes needed in policy. If one particular request is continually granted, add that benefit to policy to reduce future requests and administrative time.  Typically companies will review all exceptions and not use a percentage point to make a change to policy.  Unfortunately there is no magic dollar amount or percentage to use, as one exception, such as loss-on-sale, could account for 50 percent of all exception requests, when it may actually have been just one transferee’s loss that skewed the percentage.

It can be difficult if you have lived in an exception-based world, however with a thorough review of your program, addressing exceptions in policy, and limiting the number of exceptions granted, it will send a message to your transferees on how your company views exception requests.  If all else fails, consider a Core/Flex policy which can help reduce exceptions as benefits are provided per the transferee’s need and the relocation budget.