my company made a counter-offer to keep me — and now is attaching strings to it

A reader writes:

I recently got an external job offer that was substantially above my current salary. I went to my current boss and told him about the offer. He asked me not to accept the other offer while he put together a counter, and I told him what I would need for a successful counter. He came back the next morning with a counter offer that was less than I had stated I needed, but for various reasons pretty equivalent to the other offer in terms of total compensation (though less in salary).

After taking a few days to think and discuss with my husband, I told my boss that I would stay. I went back to the second company and politely declined the offer. They then spent 10 days trying desperately to get me to change my mind (though not actually changing the initial offer). During that time, I was informed by my boss that HR would need me to sign a “straightforward” retention letter. The other company is still calling and asking me to change my mind, even though I have told both the supervisor and HR that I’ve accepted my current employer’s counter offer.

I received the retention letter today. It states that if I leave within 12 months I have to pay back the raise. I am expected to achieve an exceptional performance rating (which I always have, but these things are subjective!). I will not be eligible for a raise at the end of the current fiscal year in nine months, when the regular merit cycle comes up. I cannot discuss this with anyone else. Etc. Etc.

I’m annoyed. In accepting the counter offer I told my supervisor that I would make a case for a raise to what I had asked for during the next merit cycle, and he acknowledged that. But this letter makes that impossible. My husband is the breadwinner in our family, which anyone can figure out just from industry/titles, so the point is less about the literal dollars than it is about respect and parity. I have done exceptional work for years.

Part of me wants to jump ship and tell the other place that their pleas have worked, and I’m all in with them. But at the same time that feels disloyal. I have to sign by Friday if the raise can take affect the 1st. Is this all common? Should I sign?

Wow — that is not a good faith move on the part of your company. And no, this is not common.

Yes, they want to retain you, and yes, they want some assurance that this raise will do it.

But you declined the other offer on their word. It wasn’t until after that that they attached a bunch of conditions to it — and not normal conditions that they could reasonably have supposed you’d expect, either.

What if you leave within 12 months because you get sick or have a family emergency or decide to move? You’d need to pay back the salary increase from between then and now? That’s ridiculous. (And if you point that out to them and they say they wouldn’t enforce it in those circumstances, then it shouldn’t be in a contract.)

What if you don’t receive an exceptional performance rating for some reason? What if you get sick and it affects your performance, or you get a new manager who gives you entirely different, unmeetable goals? You’d owe them money? No.

And you don’t get a raise next year, when you normally would, which effectively means this raise is not quite the raise it originally seemed.

This is a bad deal, being offered in bad faith.

If you otherwise liked the other company’s offer and were excited to work for them, I’d take it.

If you didn’t really want to work for the other company and would prefer to stay where you are, you could try saying this to your manager: “I turned down another offer because I thought we had an agreement. I’m concerned that there are now conditions being attached to it that I wasn’t told about originally. I’m not willing to agree to pay back a raise under the conditions listed here. Certainly my intent is to stay at least through the next year, but life happens — and I have no way of knowing what could get in the way of that. I could get sick or need to move or who knows what — I’m not willing to owe the company money if that happens. I was hoping you’d make a counteroffer to better reflect my value to the company. But that would mean a normal raise, not one with these unusual strings attached. Is that something you’re able to do?”

Even if you get a yes, though, I’d strongly consider keeping up the job search that led to this situation in the first place. The way your company is handling this means it’s very likely that they’re one of those companies that don’t fully embrace employees who accept counter-offers — and sometimes put them at the top of layoff lists or otherwise push them out once the immediate panic over retaining them has subsided.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 281 comments… read them below }

    1. Annie Moose*

      Now this in particular sets my teeth on edge. Why don’t they want you discussing it with anyone? Because they don’t want other people knowing counter-offers are a thing–or because if you discuss it with someone else, they’d point out it’s a bad deal, made in bad faith by your employer?

      This sounds like just another way a company tries to prevent employees from discussing salary and benefits, which by the way is illegal. (I know nothing about employment law and am not sure if this specific situation would be illegal, because I guess they’re saying you can’t discuss the agreement, not that you can’t discuss your pay without mentioning the agreement–but it still looks an awful lot like they’re trying to suppress your right to talk about this stuff.)

      1. JokeyJules*

        If OP is being paid fairly based on work performance, value to the company, and other factors, why should they be keeping that a secret?

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Well, if she tells people about what kind of counter offer this company seems to give people, not many will want one…

    2. Anon From Here*

      Yep. And I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that the retention letter includes a phrase like, “I agree that I have had the opportunity to review this with an attorney before signing.”

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      In fact, when someone says you shouldn’t discuss something like this (i.e., not someone else’s personal secret), that should be your cue that you really, really SHOULD discuss it with other people. Because the reason they don’t want you to discuss it with others is not going to be to protect YOU.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I assume that meant she can’t discuss the counteroffer with other employees, because they don’t want other people trying to get them. That may or may not be legal, depending on whether she’s covered under that part of the NLRA (if she’s management, she may not be).

      1. neverjaunty*

        And on her state’s laws. California explicitly makes it illegal to tell employees not to discuss salary matters; other states may have similar laws.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          California also has oral contracts. So technically the company has broken contract if her boss made a counter and the OP accepted it. HR presenting a contract different than what was discussed would be bait and switch.
          It doesn’t matter though. The company was dishonest and destroyed trust. You can’t work for someone that is dishonest to that level.

          1. Hey Nonnie*

            They’ve also made it veeeerrrrrry clear that they don’t value the OP. This counter offer is more about their convenience (they don’t want to hire/train someone new) than it is about realizing that OP didn’t feel valued and trying to rectify that.

            And if they don’t value you, things will go downhill quickly. (I can totally see them withholding “outstanding” on her performance reviews out of petty butthurt revenge for OP even considering leaving. That contract gives them WAY too much power.)

            Personally, I think that this company is a lost cause, and I would try to reconnect with the other job offer, if it’s still on the table. If not, keep looking and get out ASAP.

            This is a good example of why people generally advise not to accept counteroffers — the reasons you wanted to leave are still going to be there, and now they have the opportunity to terminate your arrangement before you do. I just hope this back-and-forth hasn’t damaged the good will or trust from the other company.

            1. valentine*

              OP, you were ready to leave and your employer failed you again straightaway by not meeting your salary request. Even if they would agree to amend the payback clause to exclude your leaving due to illness or injury, yours or someone else’s, you’d be at their mercy and they don’t deal fairly. You need only be loyal to yourself. You have a great opportunity to go for the money (compensation can change/disappear) and a company that wants you. I hope you’ll do it.

      2. EPLawyer*

        I took it as “you can’t discuss this with anyone” because they will point out how we are screwing you. If someone wants you to keep something a secret, it’s because they are hiding THEIR bad behavior.

        A no discussion clause is not going to keep other people from asking for counters. It will LW from finding out that others did NOT have these same restrictions in their counter offers.

      1. Artemesia*

        Unless you are in a profession where counter offers are the norm and the only way to get a real raise sometimes e.g. Academia where tenure protects you, the rule of thumb should be to never accept a counter offer. Almost always they work out badly. For one thing, the company knows you were looking and it is not unusual for them to be thinking about how to get along without you. Maybe you go in the next downsize because they know you are not ‘reliable.’ The LW should take the new offer and still should do it if they have the chance. The counter offer is so hinky that it makes clear that she cannot trust this company.

        Almost always a counter offer should not be accepted; in this case, it absolutely ought not to be accepted. Get out if you can.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Yes, yes, yes. You wanted to leave for a reason, and accepting counters in the first place is iffy. Assuming you got these caveats removed, I would bet that they would find a way to hang more strings on you. They can change the conditions of your employment any time they want. And they really want to. Given the way some HR departments are, I’d be concerned that they have you under a microscope now if you accept (with or without their conditions). Go to the other place because you are not going to get the respect that you want from this company. They have told you so on more than one occasion.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I once was recruited by a former boss at company A to manage the same functional department I had been in under him at his new employer, company C. I had a lot of reservations because it was a longer commute, different type of pay structure, and I was iffy on the culture. I was doing something totally different at Company B when I was contacted, but I fell for the “Management Opportunity” and took the offer. Then I accepted the the counter offer & creation of a similar role at Company B. That was the first of a series of dumb moves, ha. I never really had the authority and support I wanted at Company B and ended up going to a 3rd role internally not long after that and further solidifying my reputation as a flake. I was in my next position for 6 yrs, and have been in my current one for over 4 yrs, and a manager made a comment a couple months ago that I don’t like to stay in one thing very long. What?

            I tell this story because I think there are a lot of non-monetary reasons to take seek a new job and then take a counter, but they still probably don’t work out like you think most of the time.

            1. uranus wars*

              OMG I worked for a company like yours once. People had been there 10 years in the same position, but if they had hopped a few jobs before coming one manager would always be like “Well, Bob is a flight risk….” and then I’d have to explain in my HR voice that bouncing around a bit to find a successful fit isn’t *that* unusual and after 10 years he could probably lose the “flight risk” classification.

            2. Anonymous Ampersand*

              “I was in my next position for 6 yrs, and have been in my current one for over 4 yrs, and a manager made a comment a couple months ago that I don’t like to stay in one thing very long. What?”

              ‘What?’ is right. That’s ridiculous!

        2. Courageous cat*

          This is very much a “know your company” case too, for other readers (I don’t think this applies to OP of course), because I read a lot of advice about not accepting a counter offer… then I accepted a counter offer and it turned out beautifully. Turns out they were hoping to eventually move me into a VP role, so if money was the only reason I was leaving, then that was a solid reason to offer much more to retain me.

          Not that it matters much here, but just wanted to throw it out there that sometimes it works out ok.

          1. Annonymouse*

            It only works out if ALL of the following are met:

            1) The company truly values you as an employee (instead of wishing to avoid the hassle of hiring)

            2) What it takes to keep you is something they can and will deliver on realistically

            3) it isn’t a problem or issue you’ve been bringing up for a long time with nothing done til now. Or something that was in the works but couldn’t disclose until now.

            4) what you want isn’t something that requires a major culture or management shift. I.e extra money, promotion, extra training.

            You aren’t going to get your prestigious law firm to adopt a jeans Friday or move under a different manager in a small company.

            Judging by how OPs company is acting they don’t follow 1. The offer sounds like it is now failing to meet 2.

            In this instance I’d say reject it.

      2. Essess*

        Agreed! They have already proven you can’t trust them by doing these sneak conditions. That would be a deal-breaker for me! They are willing to play games when you have the upper hand, so they are going to be even worse to you when they are in control after you are committed to them for a year.

  1. JokeyJules*

    At a minimum, I think you should negotiate with your current company. This seems like a crap deal, for sure… It’s definitely not showing you respect and parity, which is what you wanted.

    I’d take the other company’s offer.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I would also take the other company’s offer. But I wouldn’t negotiate with the current employer—OP already went through a thorough process, turned down an offer, and was presented with a letter that did not reflect several of the key terms she was led to believe would be honored.

      Her current company doesn’t sound at all trustworthy, and imo, do not deserve her loyalty. Loyalty is built on mutual respect and investment in the employer-employee relationship, and they’re effectively trying to undercut the benefit of the bargain to create the appearance that they negotiated with her. That’s not respectful, nor does it show investment in retaining her. Their behavior sounds like classic bad faith, and it’s not often possible to achieve a positive outcome when one party is acting in good faith and the other is not.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Exactly this. OP’s company has lost any expectation of her loyalty – and really, those are some shady-ass terms.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Right? Like, so shady. Who draws up a contract after you’ve accepted different terms and tries to con you into signing it? Someone acting in bad faith.

          Which is also to say—OP, next time (hopefully there will be no next time with this company) get it in writing before you turn down other offers.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            The most shady part to me is about what happens if they don’t give you the excellent rating – that is totally up to them, and very subjective, so that would make me extremely anxious and would be reason enough to pass. I can just imagine how this will go down come review time.

            1. Someone Else*

              Yeah, this isn’t a perfect analogy, but this makes me think of, say, Major League Baseball players who have incentives in their contracts for things like innings pitched or hitting certain milestones and if they’re realllllly close to it at the end of the year, suddenly not being put into games they could’ve normally expected to be in, where it’s obvious the team is trying to not give them the opportunity to hit the milestone and trigger the extra million dollars or whatever it was.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              I would not stay. They can put whatever they want on those reviews. I can see OP getting bad reviews from here forward.

              OP, they did a bait and switch on your new agreement. It’s not a huge leap in logic to see bad reviews in the future.

              If they actually valued you, they would be speaking a lot different to you now than they actually are.

      2. fieldpoppy*

        I agree with this — if this were me and I stayed I would find myself nursing the kind of resentment that would mean I’d want to leave anyway very quickly. I don’t like being painted into a corner like this.

      3. tangerineRose*

        “Her current company doesn’t sound at all trustworthy, and imo, do not deserve her loyalty” This!

    2. Spooky*

      Is it still on offer, though? My understanding was that OP turned it down and the ship had sailed. But I do think it would be worth reaching out to the other company, just in case it’s still a possibility. I would definitely leave if possible.

        1. Spooky*

          You’re right–I saw that they had spent 10 days, past tense, and completely missed the last sentence. Sorry!

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Since they’re still asking her to take the offer, they’re effectively renewing the offer for her (even though she previously rejected it). That suggests the offer is still open.

  2. Detective Amy Santiago*

    This is why it’s never a good idea to accept a counter offer. There are reasons you looked elsewhere in the first place.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This. Sounds like they panicked, tried to keep you in a spurt of scrambling, and are now much more slowly coming to visualize how they could move on without you.

      OP, you can be grateful that your company showed its hand while the other company was still interested. I thought this letter was moving toward “The other company moved on to other candidates, at which point my company began squirming about their verbal counter offer and reworking all the terms to be much less generous.” You apparently still have an off-ramp–I’d take it.

    2. OldJules*

      This so much! We as an organization don’t do counter offer as a culture. But if in situations we do it, there is NO strings attached. This is a correction in pay, not a sign on bonus.

      1. dorothy zbornak*

        yup. When I got a job offer last May, my company was working on a retention bonus for me, I guess, but I politely told them not to bother – while my new job is paying me more, it was never about the money, it was about them screwing me over one two many times.

        1. Lucille2*

          This is exactly why I’ve never been interested in discussing counteroffers with my last jobs. The increase in salary was just sweetening the deal. I was looking for a lot of reasons that a counteroffer would never solve.

          1. Tin Cormorant*

            Same. “You’re not paying me enough” is the polite answer for why I’m leaving, where the real answer is more related to a lack of respect and how they’ve been screwing me over for years and somebody finally told me the truth about my promised promotion that’s never coming.

    3. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Never is a bit strong; it can very much depend on your industry, as well as how the job offer came about. My husband and I are both in publishing, where landing an offer from another company (or even department) is a relatively common way to get a raise and promotion. I accepted a counteroffer that bumped my salary up nearly 43% with a $10k bonus because OldJob stepped up to keep me when OldOldJob tried to get me back. I stayed at OldJob for another 8 years during which I received regular raises on the new base and another promotion. Husband is a hiring manager, and has successfully made counteroffers to excellent staff who wanted to stay but really needed the salary increase. Of course, in other industries, testing this dynamic may prove dangerous and toxic; that just hasn’t been our experience.

      1. [insert witty username here]*

        Agree with Butter Makes Things Better, both on their name and their point. I’m not saying this is an OK practice or one I agree with, but in our company, it’s very hard to get a significant enough raise without another offer. It’s a bit of an open secret for us and supposedly they’re trying to correct this, but it’s also pretty rampant in our industry.

        Like with so many other things in life, I don’t think you can put a blanket “never do this” decree out there about not accepting counter offers. In our company, almost no one is treated differently if they accept a counter offer and stay with the company. If anything, people get treated better. I know I have; I specifically went and got another offer so I could get the pay raise I deserved. Almost a year later, I am now about to be promoted and get another raise. A couple people checked in with me to make sure I was happy after my offer/counter offer, but other than that, I have not been treated any differently and am confident no one thinks I have one foot out the door. In my situation, I would not have brought the offer to my current company unless I was willing to take it, and I was (there is still a part of me that wonders “what if….” but they weren’t offering some other benefits my current company does, so I’m good with my choice). Also – I don’t think I would have bothered had another co-worker not recently done the same thing. I’d seen other people do it, but they deserved it – this particular co-worker did not. They should have used this opportunity to let them go, but oh well. And yes, all this does point to some dysfunction in our management! But in my situation, the good outweighs the bad.

      2. Hey Nonnie*

        This is a terrible practice, honestly. Whether intended or not, it signals:

        1. the company pays the absolute minimum they think they can get away with, rather than paying how they value the work they get
        2. they are ONLY interested in retention after it’s clear that they aren’t retaining — they will never be proactive in nurturing that relationship
        3. and both of those signal that “valuing employees” is not on their radar as something that must be practiced every day, rather than only when someone already has a foot out the door.

        It may be common in some industries, but they underlying message is pretty terrible.

        1. Butter Makes Things Better*

          If practiced that way, sure, I agree. And for sure, when we were both on the lowest rungs, the pay wasn’t great; before I got into publishing, I was warned by vets in the business that the industry was very “expect to pay your dues for years” and not one to go into if you’re trying to make a bunch of money right away. Over the years, the market share for traditional publishing and media has steadily and considerably decreased, as has the $ they have to work with and the open positions to promote people into, so most folks know what they’re getting into and are there for the passion of it vs. making bank. It’s less that particular companies are employee-unfriendly and miserly, and more that the industry’s supply of space and $ is so limited that it’s a bit of a maxim that you may have to be prepared to switch companies to move up the ladder.

          Re: my original response, I left out details for brevity, but both my husband’s company and my OldJob pay well, have great benefits and make a lot of effort to retain employees with flexible schedules, bonuses, raises, title bumps, etc. In my case, I’d only been at OldJob (which hired me at 90% more than OldOldJob was paying me before I left) a little less than 2 years when OldOldJob tried to woo me back with a position they created for me. I wasn’t getting paid peanuts and I wasn’t grappling with feeling undervalued or ignored. The new position would have been a huge change from what I was doing and a big step up from where I was at OldJob because it involved on-air time — something OldJob didn’t offer at the time. I wanted to stay at OldJob, but like Witty, I would’ve taken the new job if OldJob had shrugged at me. And like Witty, when I did stay at OldJob, I wasn’t seen as a potential traitor, I was seen as a hot commodity that they wanted to keep happy.

      3. GuitarLady*

        Curious Butter and InsertWittyName, how hard is it to hire in an industry like that? If people often only job search to get counter offers, you can never be sure people actually want the job you are hiring for! Do you basically always plan to lose your top couple of candidates to counter offers until you get down to someone actually looking to leave? Seems like it would be really annoying to never know who wants a new job and who is just using you to get a raise at their current one.

        1. Butter Makes Things Better*

          That’s a great question! My husband has come up against that for sure, even within his own company where another department’s counteroffer won out. Fwiw, I’d estimate his hiring success rate is greater than 70% (maybe more), so at least he’s not always facing someone leveraging their old company on him. I’m not sure what his mindset is when hiring. I do know he doesn’t get overly surprised when candidates stay put. And (unsurprisingly to the commenters here, I’m sure) he does have to refill his entry-level positions fairly regularly. The nice thing is that a decent number of them come back after getting more advanced experience elsewhere when there are openings at more senior levels.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Exactly. I worked with a recruiter (one of the good ones luckily) to find my current position and one thing she asked me over and over was the purpose of my job search. She flat out told me she wouldn’t work with anyone who was simply looking to get an offer so they could take it back to their current company to get a counter as it rarely worked out well for the employee and it affects her income/reputation.

    5. BRR*

      That part of Alison’s original post on counter offers sticks out to me. While not always true, it seems like in this case if there wasn’t another reason besides money before there certainly is now. I’d encourage the LW to move to the new company. I think Falling Diphthong above is right in that the current employer is realizing they did a counter offer in a moment of panic. Based on the information you gave, I think the panic will subside eventually. At the very least (and it’s a low bar), it’s malarkey that you need to receive an exceptional performance rating or pay back the raise. Most likely that’s an incredibly subjective goal.

      1. Mephyle*

        This is so significant in the present case that it’s worth highlighting and repeating. “In this case if there wasn’t another reason besides money before there certainly is now.

    6. Bea*

      It depends on why you’re looking, your position and the structure. I took a counter once but it was from an owner of a company who didn’t screw with me. I knew that her giving me that kind of cash meant she needed me more than I needed them. Given the extreme flexibility, I didn’t turn down the other job, I managed to work both 3/4 of the time and slide into the second one full time when the other could finally survive without me.

      But anywhere that includes HR and garbage agreements for payback is a nasty toxic wasteland that I’ll never bother with. ICK ICK ICK

    7. seller of teapots*

      I accepted a counter-offer and I couldn’t be happier. Generally speaking, I think it’s a bad idea, but it’s not a universal rule.

      I tried to quit and take a lateral move at another company, in large part because my team wasn’t being led properly, and the resulting symptoms of that were frustrating. When I tried to quit, my bosses came back and offered me the chance to lead my team! This was a huge surprise, and has worked out wonderfully. I’m pretty sure I’ve exceeded their expectations, I know my team is much happier now, and I got a huge career advancement and, most importantly, I really love the work I’m doing now.

      I think this “accepted a counter-offer” situation worked is because the counter-offer gave me an opportunity to correct the very things that were causing me to try and leave. If the counter-offer is, say, just for more money and a better title, but all the upsetting things are still there? You’re going to end up just as frustrated!

      1. Lil Fidget*

        That’s true, I could see how a promotion into a new position might be a good exception to the rule (not just an in-place promotion like “*senior* teapot maker”). If you believe your company won’t tar you as “disloyal” for having looked elsewhere and always hold that against you.

      2. not really a lurker anymore*

        Yes. My husband did something similar in staying with his employer. There’s still some goofy things happening but overall he’s good with it.

        One of the things I asked him, specifically about, was would he be able to move past the issues that had got him to the point of leaving. If he was good with it, I was good with it.

  3. Apollo Warbucks*

    I would no way accept the part the counter offer that means you have to get exceeds expectations in your review that’s to subjective. I could maybe see shredding to stay for 12 months, but even that has some problems.

    1. ArtK*

      Than one is an absolute deal-breaker. OP would have almost no recourse if her reviews suddenly became poor. They’ve effectively negated their counter offer.

      OP, run away. These are not ethical people.

      1. SignalLost*

        And I am incredibly suspicious that all of a sudden her performance ratings are going to get a lot more subjective. (I know we all are. But this counter offer just screams bad faith.)

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yep. This is the worst part. They’ve got it set up so all they have to do is give you a “meets expectations” review and say whoops, you owe us a big chunk of money, sucks to be you.

      1. Spooky*

        Exactly. They’ve kept all the power. Depending on how ethical this company has been in the past, there may be a very good chance that they already intend to make you pay it back, regardless of performance.

    3. Artemesia*

      The fact that this is part of the deal means they will claw back her raise because all they have to do to do that is ‘words.’ I know two people who agreed to contracts with minimum pay but big stock options vesting after a year; both were fired a day or two before vesting and their labor stolen for that year. One of them literally built the platform that the on-line company used to function — but it was built and he was just maintaining it now — so they felt they could get by without him, steal his year’s compensation, and get someone cheaper to maintain the site. When there is an escape hatch like ‘must ‘exceed expectations’ or we take the money back then they are planning to take the money back.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A secondary problem here is stock options assume the stock will be bought at an advantage to the employee. A family member had a stack of stock options about 1/2 inch thick. Financially, it was foolish to use the options. In short the company gave the family member NOTHING. It was all smoke and mirrors.

    4. Ego Chamber*

      So I’ve been around here long enough to know not to ask if something is legal, because employment law is shockingly lax on all kinds of worker mistreatment, but … is that even legal?

      Anywhere I’ve worked that made part of compensation contingent on performance standards or working at the company for X amount of time, that compensation was paid as a bonus, not paid in advance and then taken back from salary already paid if the conditions weren’t met. (I assumed that was mostly a logistical decision because it’s a pain in the ass to try to claw back money that was likely already spent, but aren’t there rules about retroactively changing salary for time already worked?)

  4. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want*

    “I have to sign by Friday if the raise can take affect the 1st. Is this all common? Should I sign?”

    Let us know what you decided, LW!

    1. JokeyJules*

      hopefully they are waiting to read the letter and comments before signing.

      OP, if you haven’t already, don’t sign.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I got the letter last week and was so enraged that I wrote the response and sent it to her that day, so she had it immediately. Would love an update though!

        1. Myrin*

          I’m strangely amused by the thought of you sitting at your desk, fuming while aggressively pummeling your keyboard keys, making sure to send your answer to OP as fast as humanly possible.

              1. Goya de la Mancha*

                2nd that! I would have to assign that one to some of my coworkers and superiors ;)

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’m so glad to hear you did that – I was afraid she’d be getting her advice too late!

  5. Merci Dee*

    Have there been other examples of your current company showing sketchy behavior like this? Because it seems strange that everything would go swimmingly there, and then they’d smack you down with these conditions out of nowhere.

    Get out, get out, get out.

  6. Cassandra*

    OP, I smell a lot of “you’ve been taken for granted for a long time and your current workplace only wants to keep doing so” coming off this counter-offer. They seem to be treating it like a new-job negotiation, which it really isn’t — and doing it badly, at that; up-front transparency is important.

    I’d cut and run to the other place and be glad they still want you. Your current place, as Alison suggests, is likely to paint you with the “disloyalty” brush and use that to continue nickel-and-diming you. (Another way of thinking about it is that they’re half-burning the supports on your bridge with them, and they’ll be looking for an excuse to knock it down altogether…)

    Let us know how it goes once you’ve decided and settled in, if you don’t mind.

    1. Lilian*

      Agreed, I can’t see this going well if you stay with your company, and there were supposedly already reasons why you were looking to leave it even before them offering you this very unpromising agreement, so going with the other company sounds like a lower risk at this point.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely this. It’s not great that they had to receive a counter-offer before even trying to retain OP. But then they tried to undermine the value of the deal she struck by attaching all sorts of problematic conditions. It sounds like they’re trying to trap her into staying—good employers don’t have to do that.

  7. LagomPursuit*

    Personally, I would also take the other offer.

    If – as you say – money isn’t the real issue, then there are other reasons you decided to leave your current employer. Reasons that won’t go away with a raise. Such as the fact they don’t value the hard work you’ve given them.

    A company that needs you to hand in your resignation before they show they value you is not a company you want to work for in my books. On top of that, they added unfair stipulations to their counteroffer after the fact… are they even trying to act in good faith? Or do they think the other offer has fallen through and you don’t have other options anymore…

    1. Seriously?*

      I would take the other offer too. They negotiated in bad faith. If it is too late to take the other offer, refuse to sign and keep looking.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Or do they think the other offer has fallen through and you don’t have other options anymore…

      This so much. Combined with the counteroffer being made in a moment of panic, while the ensuing weeks let them reason “Hmmm… maybe we could get by without LW. Maybe we don’t need to keep her, just need to plan for her departure….”

      1. Eddiesherbert*

        +100. I feel like they definitely think the other offer is off the table now, so you’ll sign their amended/sketchy counter-offer because you “have to.” Luckily… you don’t.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Yep. I would bet money that they are counting on the assumption that you don’t have an offer anymore.

    3. kittymommy*

      Me too. The current employer is coming across to me as super shady and this is not a matter of loyalty. If anything, stating one thing in order for the LW to decline the offer and then changing the terms is the disloyal act. Cut and run to the new company stat.

    4. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Count me in on taking the new job too. Assuming you’ve done your due diligence and their demonstrating how much they want you isn’t a sign of desperation at a company with insane turnover, you’re clearly their first choice (yay!). I bet it’s not too late. If it isn’t, I wonder if there’s still room to negotiate something extra before you say yes; if not money, then maybe a couple extra personal days or something like that.

  8. KHB*

    Does the claw-back clause on the raise also apply if they lay you off within 12 months? If it does, that’s especially awful.

    1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

      That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s all part of the plan. They’re going to keep her around long enough to hire someone else for cheaper or eliminate the role, then eliminate the role and force her to pay back the outlay for the “raise.”

      1. RJ the Newbie*

        I was just about to type this. This is the worst type of deceptive counteroffer, one that offers all the benefit to the company and all the risk to OP. Go with the other offer.

      1. Seriously?*

        All they have to do is give her a lower performance review. Since it is entirely subjective it would be very easy to do.

        1. Always "anon just for this"*

          This! I had a manager who really didn’t like me and did everything they could to undermine me. That I succeeded in spite of them just upset them more.

          The performance reviews I received while working for them were terrible – even though I had tangible, measurable results that exceeded expectations of the goals that had been set the previous year. For example, there were measurable metrics in which I had exceeded my goals by 30-40%, and was at least 50% above colleagues in a similar role. I also had glowing feedback from internal colleagues and our external customers. Yet, my manager didn’t have a single positive thing to say about me.

    2. Antilles*

      Good question. Standard repayment agreements (e.g., educational expenses or retention bonuses) often have a distinction between “company laid you off” and “employee chooses to leave”. I assume this is due to either (1) advice from lawyers worried about invalidating the whole thing/running afoul of labor laws by making the contract too broad OR (2) morale reasons to avoid situations where a laid-off employee gets asked to repay money.
      However, in OP’s case, I’d be a lot more skeptical since the company is definitely not operating in good faith thus far.

  9. Anon From Here*

    In accepting the counter offer I told my supervisor that I would make a case for a raise to what I had asked for during the next merit cycle, and he acknowledged that.

    They are changing their offer after you accepted it. This is not square. Go with the new company.

  10. Jason Rossiter*

    Employment lawyer here. The OP may want to speak with a lawyer about what happened. If you take action (like rejecting a job offer) in reliance upon specific promises (like a specific counter-offer from your current employer), then in some instances that promise you relied upon can be legally enforceable. Whether or not that would be worth pursuing here would depend on many factors, however, but there may be a potential legal claim here. The claim is usually called “promissory estoppel” or something similar. If the amounts in question are significant enough it might be worth an hour or two of a lawyer’s time to find out.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      And the new letter is essential a completely different contract—its terms are entirely different than the deal OP struck and relied on when she turned down the outside company’s offer.

      OP, don’t sign the letter. And if I were you, I’d take the other company’s offer.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        The retention letter is straightforward, if not the way they wanted OP to interpret what they said. The employer is straighforwardly out to shaft OP.

    2. Ego Chamber*

      “If the amounts in question are significant enough”

      My understanding of the conversation is LW was like “I got a better job, I’m out,” and then her manager was like “Ohhh noooes! We can’t let you go! What would it take for you to stay?” and LW was like “These are my terms…” and manager was like “Yes! We can do all those things! I’ll get HR to draft the retention letter! Don’t leave us!”

      Is that enough? If the manager agreed to draft a letter but didn’t specifically agree to all of LW’s terms? I mean, I would think it would be, but I can see a company lawyer arguing it differently.

    3. somebody blonde*

      I think this is the best option if the other company’s offer isn’t available anymore.

  11. Trout 'Waver*

    I’d run screaming. Your current company is acting in such bad faith that I would not consider them trustworthy. I would feel no loyalty to people like that.

  12. Miss Fisher*

    Something similar happened to a Co-Worker. She got an offer for a great new job using her abilities she doesn’t get to use in our current roles. Current Job countered with a raise and a role built totally for her. 6 months in, they eliminated her new role and demoted her back down to her previous role.

    1. Minocho*

      Yeah. I wouldn’t take a counteroffer. I just don’t see the win in it for me.

      There’s a reason I’m looking. I can’t see how getting anything from my current employer would fix the kind of issues I leave positions for, and I’ve added in the spectre that I’ve looked and found alternative employment.

      I suppose there has to be some circumstance, somewhere and sometime where accepting a counteroffer could make sense. But usually once I’ve arrived at the decision it’s time to leave, it’s pretty much impossible for me to imagine anything getting me to reconsider.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      Wow is that awful! I would be on a super-aggressive job search if I were your co-worker, and it’s very telling for everyone who works at that company! Yikes!

  13. Non-profiteer*

    I wonder if the other employer knows that your employer does this in counter-offer situations, and that’s why they’ve continued pursuing you? If they are direct competitors, they might know. Which is to say, don’t feel like it’s embarrassing to change your mind and take the offer!

  14. Trout 'Waver*

    Also, consider what would happen if they negotiated with a raw material vendor, customer, or regulatory agency in such a manner. Why is negotiating with labor so different to these asshats?

    1. Quackeen*

      I really would not say “never accept a counter offer.” I would certainly not accept this counter offer, though.

      I did once accept a counter offer, and it was absolutely the best thing I could have done for my career. I know that’s a golden unicorn situation, but it does happen.

    2. stitchinthyme*

      I accepted one as well, and it’s been fine. But it wasn’t your typical situation: for one thing, I hadn’t really been looking — an opportunity pretty much fell into my lap when my husband saw a posted job description at his company and noticed that it was just about a point-for-point match for my skillset. I interviewed even though I didn’t really want to leave my current place, and their offer ended up being significantly higher than my current salary, so I didn’t really feel like I could turn it down out of hand. I talked to my boss about it and they told me they’d match it, so I stayed. (Note: there were no other conditions given; they didn’t even ask me to prove the other offer.) That was 3 years ago, and I’m still here. There have been no negative effects that I’ve noticed from the salary bump I got that time.

      So I’d hesitate to say “never”. As with anything, you look at the circumstances and take into account what you know about the company and your management when making a decision. In this particular LW’s case, I’d accept the other job offer, because it really does sound like their current company is not acting in good faith. Mine was, and that’s what made the difference.

      1. BeenThere*

        I agree, stitch… especially in a situation such as yours. It’s nice your employer values you that much!

  15. Amber Rose*

    OP I really, really hope you went to the new company. Why should you worry about feeling disloyal when they’ve acted in bad faith and treated you so poorly through this process?

  16. Cordoba*

    This is a good example of why playing Counteroffer Roulette is a high-risk plan and a bad approach most of the time. There’s too many ways for it to go wrong, the soft considerations are significant and hard to calculate, and the counteroffer is rarely actually good enough to make the whole exercise worth it.

    95% of the time it’s better to just take the new job, politely decline the counteroffers, and move on with your life. This is *definitely* the case when you tell the current employer “It will take a counteroffer of $X to keep me” and they come back with $<X. Bzzzt, wrong answer.

    In this case, I would definitely contact the other company and tell them "Great news! After talking more with my family I've decided to accept your offer after all." It might be a little awkward, but as long as they accept and LW does good work there it won't matter long-term. Their current employer is not acting reasonably and does not appear to deserve conspicuous "loyalty".

    1. Minocho*

      I had a friend and coworker that tendered her resignation. She adored her boss, but the company was underpaying every position below management level, as we’d all been hired around 2009 or so, and they weren’t willing to keep up with the times. Her boss tried to secure a raise for her. Suddenly my friend has the CFO in her cubicle, demanding to see her resume, because the CFO had to confirm that she was “worth” what her new job was offering (my best guess was she was looking at about a 50-60% raise over her current salary). The next day the CFO called her into her office and explained that she would counter offer for the exact same amount as the new job was offering, but that my friend had to understand that she would then be grossly overpaid compared to everyone else at her level in the company. My friend *really* liked her boss, and struggled with feeling like she was betraying him by not accepting the counter offer. I advised her that her skip level, from her description of that meeting, now resented her – and she needed to GTFO.

      About a month later, about 30% of the top level non-managers had left, including me. So…yeah.

      1. Antilles*

        Suddenly my friend has the CFO in her cubicle, demanding to see her resume, because the CFO had to confirm that she was “worth” what her new job was offering
        I find that funny given that there’s already an offer on the table. I’m worth whatever the market is willing to pay; you can decide to match that or not, but your opinion on the ‘value’ has no relevance on the price.

      2. SarahKay*

        No, no, it’s not that your friend would be grossly overpaid; it’s that the company was grossly underpaying everyone else, but CFO had clearly decided she wasn’t going to admit that. What a manipulative, duplicitous so-and-so!
        Glad to hear you both got out of there!

      3. Ellex*

        I tendered my resignation for a job and got a counteroffer that was $3/hour less than the offer I was leaving for. The only other thing on offer was a hefty guilt trip from the GM for “leaving them in the lurch”, with everyone else, including my direct supervisor, telling me to GTFO while I could. Well, I wasn’t the one who’d put them in the lurch, years of mismanagement had done that. I jumped ship without a single backward look.

        Over 75% of the company was laid off in less than 5 years when the head of IT basically performed a coup and switched the business to mainly software sales, which was the direction the entire industry was – unsurprisingly – heading.

        That job and company had so many red flags they should have switched to selling flags.

  17. Bagpuss*

    Honestly, I’d call back the other company and let them know that you will be accepting their offer after all.

    Your current co doesn’t appear to be acting in good faith, and it seems shady as hell. And I say that as an employer who has been burnt by employees not acting in good faith, so I can understand the *wish* to ad strings to a counter offer, but just…No.

    You say it feels disloyal but the company are not showing you any loyalty as a (presumably) good and long term employee. These things go both ways.

  18. pcake*

    I would absolutely accept the offer from the other company.

    If your current company wants to keep from giving you the raise, all they have to do is give you less than stellar reviews. As far as you having to pay them the raise if you leave – say, a family member gets dementia or cancer and needs care – I wouldn’t consider that offer for a nanosecond.

  19. Utoh!*

    Why are you looking to stay with a company who you feel has not respected your work, and is even now in the face of losing you is making it difficult for you to make the decision to stay? This retention agreement is awful, I can understand if they have given you the moon and the stars, and really put themselves out there to keep you, but they haven’t. Seems like the time is up for you to have made a decision, can you let us know what you did (and why)?

    1. JustAClarifier*

      +1 THIS, I’m glad someone has said it – at this point, it should not even be a question. Run, and update us, Letter Writer!

  20. Andy*

    You are being treated really poorly in this situation. I hope you take the new job. F those guys. F that noise.

  21. mimsie*

    Hold up. The counter offer is less than what you told them was required to stay, you won’t be eligible for a raise (so really they’re just giving you an advance on your raise), and several other restrictive and unusal strings?

    Go back to the new employer, hat in hand, and just tell them that their enthusiasm to hire you has won you over. Your current employer have shown their true stripes and it’s ugly. This relationship is not tenable.

  22. CatCat*

    You can’t effectively negotiate with people who keep changing the deal. This is the time to walk and take the other offer.

  23. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

    Jump ship. This one is full of plague rats and the other one sounds like a cruise ship with unlimited open bar.

  24. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I didn’t get into this in my answer, but I’m curious what people think of this in regard to the other company:

    The other company is still calling and asking me to change my mind, even though I have told both the supervisor and HR that I’ve accepted my current employer’s counter offer.

    Red flaggy about that company?

    1. Murphy*

      Yeah, I thought their persistence was inappropriate after OP told them that she’d accepted another offer.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. I think it depends on how often they’ve called and on OP’s industry. My little brother is in a field where being a little pushy after someone initially turns you down is common, as is staying in touch in case you want to poach someone later.

        But I agree that if it’s more than 1-2 calls and if this isn’t an industry where pushiness of that nature is common, then it’s red flaggy… Although current company is one enormous red flag, so I don’t know that I’d want to stay there, either. :(

    2. Anon From Here*

      Depends how many times constitutes “still calling,” really. One call each from HR and the supervisor wouldn’t raise a red flag to me so much as it would indicate a very high interest.

      1. Eddiesherbert*

        I imagined a couple emails and/or calls in total… which is unusual but not concerning. If they’re calling OP multiple times a day, that flag would be looking mighty red!

        1. Artemesia*

          Maybe they know something about counter offers in this company and know she is about to get hosed? Hard to imagine they are worse than her current company though.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Kinda weird, but if New Company is in the same industry as Old Company, they might already be aware that they pull this kind of scheme. And thus might be waiting for LW to realize how awful her counteroffer really is.

    4. kittymommy*

      Ehh, I’m just reading it as aggressive but not unduly so. Of course that might just be me subconsciously comparing to the current company. I think a lot would depend on how they behaved in other ways: interviews, negotiations, etc.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        Or turn down the counteroffer but keep looking for a new job. Or do some more due diligence on the new company and ask to talk to some employees (not managers) about what it’s like to work there.

      2. Barbara Lander*

        You’re mixing your metaphors, but yeah. I’d say current company is a dumpster fire wrapped in a train wreck covered by a hot mess.

    5. CatCat*

      Not great (could their be boundary crossing issues?), but on its own, hard to say. I was actually wondering if someone there might actually be familiar with the game OP’s current employer is playing (like, this may not be current employer’s first rodeo and there’s a Reputation now known to outsiders) and that OP might be available quite soon again anyway.

    6. Minocho*

      Yes, this would be a potential red flag.

      If I understood their motivation in this persistence, then it might not be worrisome. There are some industries, locations and position types where it may not be a bad thing. But in general, they’re either in a bad spot (speaks to disorganization, bad planning, or a difficulty with employees / retention) or maybe inappropriately attached to the idea of hiring her specifically (overly emotional / potentially toxic / inexperienced manager?).

      The most “But why did you say no to us?” I’ve ever gotten for an offer I turned down was the hiring manager’s manager (who I did meet at one interview) reaching out to ask why the offer was turned down. I’d taken up some of their time, and felt I had something useful to offer them in repayment of that time an attention, so I told him my thoughts. And that was it.

    7. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Depends on how specialized OPs job is. If she’s an administrative assistant it’s really red-flaggy, but if she’s an underwater neurosurgeon for great white sharks, it’s not odd at all.

    8. Utoh!*

      Hi Alison,

      I did think that was kind of odd, that the company tried desperately for 10 DAYS to change OPs mind? I am also curious how this external company found OP, did she apply for an open position with this company, and have an interview with them prior to the offer, or were they just recruited by this company?

    9. AnotherAlison*

      Or maybe just an experienced, kindly hiring manager banging her head against the wall knowing that counters don’t work out well and is sad for the OP?

    10. Rusty Shackelford*

      The flags at the current employer are (a) black, (b) printed with a skull and crossbones, and (c) on fire, so I’d trade those for a red flag any day.

      1. Minocho*

        I am really, really sorry for your situation.

        But endlessly amused by the picture your description of it conjured in my head.

        Thank you, and I hope either the situation or your circumstances greatly improve.

      2. BRR*

        Yeah I think we’re all saying go to the new employer because we’re comparing it to the current employer. I’m a little hesitant on the new employer but I could see it going either way depending on how they did it (you’d think they would at least try to up their offer).

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I liked the suggestion upthread that maybe LW’s company has a reputation for going “DON’T LEAVE HERE’S A PONY!… Umm, wait, when we said ‘pony’ we meant ‘spaghetti dinner’ and you have to pay for the meatballs…” and so when they have a good prospect from that company then they keep a line out there for a few weeks.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      Honestly I see that as worrisome too. I understand one, “please reconsider.” After that and the LW make it sounds like it has been multiple contacts, the other company should accept your decision especially without raising their offer. I imagine that they do not have a viable second choice line up or they would have moved on already.

      OTOH this is kind of a godsend for this LW because she should take the new offer and leave her dodgy job. Those conditions on the counteroffer which were not mentioned during negotiation are outrageous. It does have the tone of “what will we do without LW?” panic give her whatever she wants (which they didn’t actually do), and then once you verbally refused the offer (and can’t expect to have another shot with them) they’re adding conditions.

    13. Bea*

      Eh. I’ve had friends who had business pursue them after being rejected for similar reasons. It depends on the job market. It seems like OP is damn good if she was getting a great offer and then her company is trying to keep her on. Sounds hard to replace and probably hard to find a good fit when hiring.

      It depends on what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

    14. JustAClarifier*

      I wouldn’t consider this a red flag if the candidate is strong and well qualified. I have been in a situation where I turned down a job offer from a place I knew was great and had a wonderful reputation with their workers in favor of another at a location I preferred, and they requested that I reconsider a few times. I was touched, but went with the other offer. Could be a similar situation!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I’ve been in this position as well, and wasn’t concerned about red flags. I think in both cases, they didn’t have a second highly qualified person to offer to because the field was so narrow at the time, so were more motivated to get me.

        I felt it was more red-flaggy when I turned down an offer recently because the whole timeline was really rushed. I said it was a good offer (it was) but I couldn’t commit under such time pressure. Then I found out they didn’t get their second-choice candidate either and had to keep interviewing for a few more weeks, but they didn’t call me up to ask me to reconsider. I’m kind of glad because I probably would have said yes to a second offer, but they didn’t care if it was me, just a body, and they’re still understaffed for the workload.

    15. Aphrodite*

      I don’t have much of an opinion on that, Alison, but what is on my mind is what the new company will think of her after (assuming) she does accept their offer after their pleading. Is it eventually going to look like a “well, this will do” mindset to them if she goes with them? I mean, it’s like she’s not choosing them so much as rejecting the old company, almost as if they (to her) are secondhand goods.

      I personally think she potentially screwed herself with both companies. She may be viewed as not enthusiastic about the new company’s offer and thus kind of as “damaged goods. I hope I am wrong but . . .

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, she won’t tell the new company that the reason she’s accepting is because the first company is screwing her over. It would be more like “I’ve given it a lot of thought and you’ve made a persuasive case.”

        1. Marthooh*

          Or she could say something along the lines of “My very excellent boss made a great counteroffer, but then higher-ups watered down the more exciting parts.”

          1. TrixM*

            Nah, don’t badmouth the current company to the new one while you’re in the process of getting a job there (and be cautious thereafter). Especially if it’s a small industry/location.

    16. irene adler*

      Given the current job market, I understand that many employers are desperate for qualified employees. So, not surprised to have them ‘still’ contacting the OP.

      Might add up all the other information gleaned from the interview process, Glassdoor-type reviews, industry reputation, etc. to make the determination if this was genuine red flag activity.

      It might just be an over-eager HR individual looking for the big score.

    17. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s definitely a red flag, because she declined their offer straight out. They should always have a backup candidate… or extend the search. No candidate can bank on a job offer paning out. And no workplace can ever bank on a top candidate taking an offer.

      That said, it’s pretty clear that her current workplace is being terrible. Maybe the new workplace will be bad, but the old workplace is definitely bad. So the choices are no possibility of good or some possibility of good. I’d go with some possibility.

    18. Meghan*

      I keep picturing Tilton & Radomski Accounting from Parks & Rec, and the letter writer is Ben Wyatt.

    19. AMPG*

      I could see this happening depending on how the OP communicated the counteroffer process to them. For example, if the OP said, “My current employer has made a counteroffer. Assuming the paperwork matches our verbal agreement, I’ll be accepting it,” then it makes a lot of sense that the other company would stay in touch to find out the specifics of the offer and whether the OP signed the agreement, while still making it clear that they’d love to have the OP.

  25. Hannah*

    Even if you did sign it, you can immediately change your mind, because if the raise takes effect today, there isn’t much to pay back!

    If the other job would be something you’d be excited about, take it if you still can.

  26. Kedi*

    And OP, you made a comment about your husband being the breadwinner. It rubbed me the wrong way. You deserve to be paid fairly because you are providing the company with your skills and knowledge. You don’t deserve less because your husband is the breadwinner.

    1. Wednesday of this week*

      +1, this jumped out at me as well. Nobody’s family financial situation has any bearing on their fair compensation. You’re worth what you’re worth, LW! No caveats!

      The flip side of this logic is that LW’s husband WOULD need a higher salary, since he is the breadwinner. This line of thinking is part of the history of the gender pay gap, and needs to go.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Plus, people lose their jobs. I hope OP’s husband won’t, but sometimes people do. And then their partners might be the breadwinners.

    2. Minocho*

      I had that literally offered to me as a reason I couldn’t get a raise, very very early in my career. Sure, we were both software developers. But I was a single woman, and he had a family to support.

      Flames. Flames on the side of my face.

      1. Nerdgal*

        I got that same crap and was so amazed that I was almost speechless. Has nothing to do with what is or is not a fair rate of pay for my work.

      2. DreamingInPurple*

        Oh, I miss Madeleine Kahn! But yeah, very very much seconding that basing any kind of compensation decision on which person is the primary financial contributor to a relationship (or on anything that would fall under the heading of “personal circumstances”, for that matter) is complete garbage.

      3. Grapey*

        Same, but we were both women.

        I left that team and joined one a few floors away that doesn’t use family status (which of course means children) against me. So far, so good after 10 years, and if they DO use it against me they’re not dumb enough to say so.

      4. She persists*

        I had the opposite experience. Me, a woman with a family, was told mgmt would need to “discuss” whether they “could” fix my 20% pay gap because the other young 20-something single men (listed out to me by name) who worked there also “deserve a raise.” This was in 2017.

        Sometimes women just can’t win.

    3. Kelly L.*

      And they are both winning bread. I really don’t see it as a “breadwinner” situation when both partners are employed outside the home and one just happens to have a higher salary.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Eh, I saw that as explaining that while for some people it’s about the money first and foremost–money for practical things like paying rent–for her it was more as a symbol of whether her work was valued. Like when the company spins its wheels on a title change. (This weekend I hit on the letter from the intern who was managing 8 people.) Or the example upthread of creating a job tailored to what the almost-resigning employee wanted to do, which was restructured right back out of existence a few months later.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree she wants respect, but she also made a point of saying his salary is publicly available, which seems an odd detail and implies she thinks that’s part of the whole mess.

    5. Seriously?*

      Although it does provide more flexibility to her situation. At least if her family is not depending on the income, she can decide to turn down both offers and keep looking.

    6. caryatis*

      Right. And, if you’re both working, you are both breadwinners. He doesn’t get a special status because at the moment he makes more money.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Not only do you deserve to be paid fairly, OP, you deserve to be able to support yourself, if you so choose.

      Please never use your spouse’s higher income as justification for accepting a lower pay rate. What if something happens and your spouse is not in the picture anymore (heaven forbid) OR suppose you decide that you would like to take in your aging but absolutely favorite relative and cover all their financial needs?

      Please do not think about just today. Think about next week, next year, five years from now. How does this decision here impact you and your life? This employer is not concerned in the least about any of these matters. Matter of fact, they have just telegraphed to you that they do not think you will last another year with them.
      It could be they are planning on having bad behaviors or it could be that they no longer believe in you.

  27. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Wow. I’m really surprised by all the negative comments toward your current company. Most places possess enough business acumen not to openly SCREW YOU with a CONTRACT that includes a flow chart of HOW they are going to SCREW YOU in the end of every possible scenario, and just in case, there’s a poison pill: if they can’t find a reason, they simply write that you achieved your goals for the year instead of exceeding them. You achieved your goals. You did good work. And then you PAY THEM BACK?

    run. run. run.

    1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

      Yeah, it’s a pretty beautiful own goal, which I hope amuses OP as she walks out today with her shit in a box.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Truly. This should not be a moral question for LW, this should be a head shake and a chuckle. My best friend’s five year old has discovered negotiating. It goes along the lines of, “if you don’t give me a cookie, I am going to turn off the TV.” Little dude, we’re watching Spongebob Squarepants. So, after I eat his cookie, I will tell his parents not to fear, there’s a great company out there for him. And I’m pretty sure there’s an opening today.

      2. The Tin Man*

        On-topic comment: Calling that an own goal is an excellent and succinct way to put it.

        Off-topic comment: is the new name a Dune reference? I hope it is a Dune reference. I am just reading it for the first time.

        1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

          It is a Dune reference! I am a desert ecologist, but lack knife fighting skills or a guerilla army; therefore, I am Liet…kinda.

          1. President Porpoise*

            Surely you could find some kind of workshop to hone your knife fighting skills, though, and then you’d be more Liety.

            1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

              Eh. That sounds hard. But if you want to join my Fremen band, we are accepting applications!

              Must provide own stilsuit. 50% travel; must be experienced sandrider. Please specify number of Harkonnens killed in cover letter. Equal opportunity employer.

              1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

                Also, Alison, I know that went COMPLETELY off topic, so please feel free to delete, but I’d be much obliged if you could maybe chuckle under your breath and roll your eyes before you do.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Curious. Why the surprise? Most people will not pay money to keep a job. It’s one of many talking points that unions discussed when unions came into vogue. It’s really good that people see this for what it is.

  28. Rusty Shackelford*

    Part of me wants to jump ship and tell the other place that their pleas have worked, and I’m all in with them. But at the same time that feels disloyal.

    Your employer would drop you in a hot minute if it was in their best interest to do so. If they didn’t have work for you, they wouldn’t keep you around out of loyalty. This is a business arrangement. And it cuts both ways – you don’t owe them loyalty either. You owe them exactly what they’re paying you to do.

    1. Linzava*

      This. Any loyalty I felt would have flown out the window when my company expects me to sign and unreasonable contract after they think the door is closed on the new job.

      I’m not opposed to company loyalty, but I treat it like any other relationship. If I was friends with someone who only treated me with respect when they want something, that relationship is not worthy of my loyalty.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Drop her AND charge her for working there. Can you imagine? “You achieved your goals this year. Unfortunately that is all you did, so we are going to have to let you go. Please drop off a check at reception.”

    3. ArtsNerd*

      Agreed. I’m a bit surprised AAM didn’t address this explicitly given what a strong advocate she is about the business nature of the employer-employee relationship. (Example post in username.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      OP, this is what over thinking looks like.

      Where is their loyalty to you? Why were you paid so little? Why did they promise you one thing but write a totally different agreement? Why the claw back, they don’t trust you anymore?

  29. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    OP, I’m curious if you were hoping that they would make a counter offer to keep you and that’s why you accepted it even though they didn’t meet your minimum salary requirement. Your current boss didn’t/doesn’t need to know any details of the offer. You shouldn’t even discuss the new offer with your old employer; just give notice and meet all other questions with, “I prefer to keep the details private. What can I do to make the transition go smoothly?”

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Totally agree – I refused to give my old employer the detail of my new job since I had no intention of accepting a counter. They made one anyway and it was laughable and made my already easy decision that much easier.

    2. Nita*

      I’ve taken a counter-offer, and this is how it happened. I’d worked at the same company for about 9 years at that point, so when telling my bosses that I’m leaving, I thought I owe some explanation about the reasons. One of them just told me he’s happy for me and good luck (yay!) The other one said “OMG, why didn’t you say something earlier, this is fixable and we will work on fixing it!” FWIW, I had said something earlier, but maybe not very emphatically. Can’t say I was happy to hear that “this is fixable”, because it had taken a nerve-wracking week to make the decision to leave, and now I had to justify something I wasn’t even sure is a good idea. And then I started stammering that there was also a raise involved, and that was met with a counter-offer – like the OP’s, it was lower than what I was offered at the new job, but still worth it because the new job would come with a big increase in commute time and a big decrease in flexibility.

      I took the counter-offer (with very mixed feelings). Was it a good idea? It’s complicated. In some ways yes, in some ways no. In hindsight, though, once I made up my mind it would have been wise to just say I’m leaving and not discuss details, as you suggest. I’ve no desire to repeat that whole process anytime soon, but if I do… my decision to leave will definitely not be up for discussion.

      Oh, and I was told that I better put in an excellent performance to justify the raise, and there was an unspoken expectation that I wouldn’t go telling people left and right about the counter-offer. Both are understandable, but neither was a formal requirement. Which is a good thing, because as Allison said, life happens and performance ratings are subjective, and having these conditions on paper can actually hurt OP more than help them.

  30. AnotherAlison*

    Based on the late added terms, I feel like the OP’s reputation with her current company is already damaged beyond repair (not her fault, though!). It sounds like you didn’t get the treatment you deserved before, and now you really won’t. I can see great fitting opportunities come up 3 years from now, and TPTB saying, “Well, gee, OP did resign that one time, so I’m not sure she’s loyal enough to be the director. . .” You could work there another 12 years and not be able to erase this supposed black mark.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m not sure her reputation is damaged… the current company seems to have ruined its reputation with her, as well! It’s not like OP came in and said, “here’s my notice. [sly Mr. Burns fingers] Unless you counter.” It sounds like this company has problematic practices when high-performing employees try to leave.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I agree their reputation is damaged with her. My thought was only that people who come up with all these after-the-negotiation demands may also be the type to hold a grudge, if if it is only a subconscious one. It reminds me of the romantic partner who tries to get you to come back so they can end the relationship on their terms or manipulate you into doing what they want. I don’t think they necessarily see the OP as being unethical and having earned a bad reputation, but they may put her in the box of employees-we-don’t-fully-trust now.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Whoa, yes. The company is treating OP badly and blaming her for us. “You put us in this position and now we have to give in to your demands. We just have a few minor caveats. All in good faith. We’re all friends here and we really want you.”
      And the OP is actually feeling pangs of guilt. OP you are being manipulated and as AnotherAlison writes, it’s not going to stop. In nine months, you won’t get a raise. OK, you agreed to that. In a year and nine months, they are going to find a new way to manipulate you into taking less that you deserve because you were disloyal to them.

  31. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, your employer is telling you who they really are, and it’s not reassuring. Think about why you were open to a new role in the first place, and consider what your future would be like should you accept your employer’s ridiculous terms. And oh, yes, they are ridiculous terms!

    Please send an update when you can!

  32. Bea*

    Ef. These. People. Call the other company and bounce. You’ll continue to be treated like untrustworthy trash by you’re current employer, they’re not good people.

  33. Zennish*

    Admittedly I’m a cynical soul, but I read this as “Please give us a year to find your replacement, during which we will contrive a reason (such as a non-exceptional performance review) to terminate you.”

    1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

      I dunno. As was said above, I don’t see much cynicism in pulling an Admiral Ackbar when the current employer is basically like “Here is a counteroffer that helpfully includes every possible way we could screw you out of it in any concievable scenario.”

    2. Amber Rose*

      That is definitely one possible reading. Makes a lot of sense too, unfortunately. Not so much cynical as understandable given the crappy way this is being handled.

  34. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    Thank whatever god you may pray to that the other company still wants you and RUN.

    Your current company is crapping on you now; what do you think they’ll be doing in the coming months? If you get the flu and need to take a week of sick time? If you make a tiny or not tiny mistake? They’ll pay to retain you. If they’re going to make you pay for it.


    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Right! I don’t even know how that would work. Is it going to be classified as a bonus instead of salary? I thought employers can’t make a salary reduction retroactive.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Can they? I thought the retroactive salary reduction was one of those aspects of employment law that can’t be waived, even if you agree to it.

          I’ve worked for some shady companies but never for one that tried to make me pay back part of my salary if I didn’t stay as long as they wanted me to, they always offered a pittance bonus for staying X amount of time instead.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      So how does this work for taxes?
      If the employer shows they paid OP x and OP has to pay back y% it seems to me that payback has to be reported to the IRS somehow.

  35. The Cosmic Avenger*

    OK OP, the clause about the performance is questionable, because they’re saying your CURRENT performance is not worth the raise they’re giving you. If it was, they would just not give you a raise next year if your review was not as good as the current one. They could also have made it a retention bonus INSTEAD of a raise, which is what they’re trying to do, but I think they know you’d say no to that, so they’re trying to pull a bait-and-switch. The clawback is the really unconscionable part, which makes me think the review clause is just a way to screw you out of the money even if you stay the full year.

    tl;dr version: companies that value their employees don’t treat them this way. They have shown you who they are, believe them the first time.

  36. CupcakeCounter*

    That contract has me going Nope Nope Nope Nope. Call the new company and have a chat with them to make sure they are still interested and let them know some of what is going on and why you are now questioning the counter offer. As a manager, I’d be a little worried if a candidate I had made an offer to and had it accepted, then withdrew, then accepted again without some kind of explanation. Doesn’t have to be the full truth just something reasonable enough to allay any concerns such as new job is closer so commute is reduced and OldJob offered 2 days a week WFH to offset that but now they are cutting that to 1 day every 2 weeks or something. Or OP really wanted to work on project management and would get that with new job but Old Job offered to have them take over the X project they’ve worked on for 2 years and are really invested in but just found out that person Y is taking over instead.

    1. WellRed*

      I think she’s already made too many mistakes with information sharing and should just let them know she’s still interested.

    2. Two Dog Night*

      It sounds like OP never accepted the other company’s offer, so calling them to ask if she could change her mind wouldn’t be a big deal. I don’t think she needs to get into any complicated explanations.

    3. Liane*

      Yes. Tell your current employer, aka Mordor’s Corporate HQ, “No!” and the new company, “Yes!” I don’t know that I would tell NewCo anything else other than “You made a very persuasive argument,” however.

      Also Google “Nopetopus GIF” which lives in the internet for just this kind of, ah, garbage.

  37. Tiara Wearing Princess*


    They’ll pay to retain you but they’re going to make you pay for it – in other ways.

  38. annejumps*

    Don’t worry too much about not seeming loyal to this company. They feel no such loyalty to you.

  39. Persimmons*

    I work for a company that basically forces employees to get an outside offer in order to get a promotion or raise. They just piddle you along with not-quite-adequate COL adjustments otherwise. I would hope that if they pulled the sort of shenanigans that LW is facing, the affected parties would ensure that it becomes known to other employees.

    I would leave, LW, but I would also make sure that my former colleagues knew about this shadiness.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I have the same question. Are they classifying it as a bonus instead of salary?

  40. Merlin*

    Will not reply further as to the counteroffer yes/no issue – absolutely one should never accept a counter offer. That said, there are many precedents for a timed claw-back from the employer withing a certain period of time – sign-on bonuses, relocation costs, tuition reimbursement and retention bonuses as a one-time payout. This is so you don’t take a big chunk of cash, then resign a month later. You CAN still resign, but you pay back the money. (As an aside, if they lay you off, you don’t have to pay it back. Ever. Some clauses will get you if you get fired for malfeasance, i.e. hand in the cookie jar type of stuff.)

    But a RAISE tied to performance reviews, and then they take it back if you don’t get Exceeds???! Never, ever and this uniquely reveals how disingenuous this company is and that they are PLANNING to get rid of OP at the earliest opportunity.

    If the offer is still there, RUN don’t walk away from this deal.

  41. MuseumChick*

    Nope nope nope, see my giant bag of NOPE? I would run as fast you can, this is entirely insane.

  42. Oranges*

    Wow, should someone tell them that if they truly want to be evil they should be… better at it? Even the worst evil masterminds don’t spell out the trap until AFTER the hero has walked into it.

    I’m getting a little image of a cartoon character showing off a pit trap with the spikes to the OP and then expecting her to walk into it….

  43. Justin*

    “…otherwise push them out once the immediate panic over retaining them has subsided.”

    I like this, because it shows how companies can absolutely move on if you leave, which is sometimes a concern when people are thinking of quitting.

  44. Lumen*

    So let’s say the person doing your review marks you down because you almost left the company and they ‘had’ to give you a counteroffer that they feel was ‘unfair’ to your company. That’s how easy they made it to demand that you pay them back the raise they ‘gave’ you to keep you.

    There is no relationship, professional or otherwise, where this is appropriate.

  45. LV426*

    OP, I had something similar happen with me. I wasn’t getting paid enough, I could barely make ends meet so I went looking for another job and I found one. Same position but paid almost double what my current employer was paying me. I went back to my manager and I let him know that I was going to leave for another job. Gave 3 weeks of notice. He came back and said maybe we can pay you more so I said well let me know now. They came back with a matching salary and I was thrilled so I let the other company know that I had changed my mind and thanked them for the offer.

    When it came time for my new salary it turned out that I didn’t get the new salary all at once. They had all of the caveats like performance and metrics that I’d never had before. On top of that they insisted that I train up several people to do my job as “backup”. I got a slightly higher pay rate but I wasn’t going to get the complete amount until I had been there for an additional 6 months for the first increase and then another 6 months for the second increase. None of this was even brought up when I agreed to stay.

    After I trained up basically my replacements they let me go saying they needed to do cutbacks. So after 90 days I didn’t get the increase in my salary and now I was out of a job and the other company had filled the position so I was essentially unemployed. From then on I vowed to never accept a counter offer. It’s just not worth the risk.

  46. The Other Dawn*

    This seems like a bad deal. OP, unless you have some compelling reason why you really want to stay with your current company, I wouldn’t. I’d accept the other company’s offer if you still can and want to. “Exceptional” is subjective and it’s too easy for your boss to say “Satisfactory” just because he wants to. (And what are the consequences if your rating isn’t “Exceptional”? Not sure if that was in the letter or not.)

  47. AKchic*

    I had something similar happen to me when I worked in a gov’t job 14 years ago.

    They weren’t going to promote me from casual time to regular part time (guaranteed 35 hours a week, even though I was working 39 hours a week, plus offering medical benefits) (oh, the joys of union retail/food service on a military installation). So… I started interviewing for positions outside of the store I was in. Another store on base wanted me. They contacted my boss to let them know they were offering me the position. Boss got mad. I was the one they consistently called when others called out. I could work morning, noon, night, weekends, whatever. I was *dependable*. How dare I leave.

    So, that regular part time position they refused to hire me for? Sure, they’d give it to me. *IF* I promised not to leave. *If* I promised to stop looking at other positions. *If* I promised to take the lowest wage for the position (which was still more than I was making, but it wasn’t much of a raise).
    I knew this boss would have done anything to tank me leaving, so I accepted. 3 months later I moved to a different store anyway.

    There was a reason why you were looking for other jobs. There was a reason why you accepted another position with another company. If you can get that job, take it. Don’t stay with a company that only offers you something “more” in bad faith. They changed the terms of the deal when they thought they had you well over a barrel. You still have value and can keep walking. I suggest you do so.

  48. Dwight*

    Hmm… If you’re going to offer a counter offer CONTRACT, it should be the other way around. It should be: We guarantee you employment at this new rate for at least a year, and here’s the conditions that you must meet to obtain an x% raise next year.

    An employment contract with someone you really want to keep isn’t that crazy, though it rarely happens. Think of pro athletes. Even if they end up being awful performers, they still get paid through the majority of their contract. It sounds like the idea went to upper management and pissed someone off, but that’s not your problem.

  49. T*

    They’re trying to suck you back in like a crappy ex-boyfriend. Take the other job and run far, far away from these people. They are setting you up for failure and can easily try to make you pay the money back in the long run. Good employers don’t behave this way.

  50. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    At a recent job interview they pretty much flat out asked me, “If we offer you this position and you take it, what will you do if your employer counter-offers?”. It kind of threw me a little bit, but I think I did a pretty good job answering it. They did wind up offering me the job, but I turned it down because it turned out the hourly rate would have been a cut to my base pay.

    1. BeenThere*

      I asked my adult daughter that same question the other day…. she has a job offer and will be giving notice today. I asked her what she’d do if they counter with more money. She said, “it’s not about the money, it’s about the opportunity.” It will be a step up for her and is definitely a good move. I was just preparing her for the possibility of a counter.

  51. KK*

    I’ve learned through observation and experience to NEVER EVER accept a counter offer. And never entertain one.

    The company now knows (assumes?) you’ll take the first opportunity out the door that offers what they want and more.

    Plus you’ll be top of the list when it comes time for a RIF. Even though you decided to stay there over another offer, they won’t see you as loyal.

  52. Purple Jello*

    If you wanted to stay with your current company, I’d hand back the letter and say something like “this isn’t what we agreed to; someone messed up.” But the fact that they even offered you this lousy counteroffer with these terms tells me you’re not important to them.

    If you wanted to move, then I’d go back to the new company and see if the offer were still open. I would tell them that your current company is jerking you around, and reminding you the reasons you wanted to leave.

    Good luck

  53. The Questioner!*

    Hi all –

    Thank you to Allison and to all the commenters here.

    I have, despite much hesitation, ultimately chosen to stay (Allison helpfully sent me her answer in advance, given my time constraints). I did successfully negotiate the worst clauses out of the letter — I now only have to repay the raise if I leave before 1/1/19 instead of a full year, and there’s an exemption for disability or if my spouse is accepts employment in another city. I removed the clause about not being eligible for the next merit cycle. My boss swears up and down that he didn’t know this would be in the letter until he got it from HR. He’s just, I think, a bit clueless?

    That said, I am also taking all of this as a GIANT red flag and will restart the job search in the new year– I’m feeling exhausted by the whole thing right now, so a pause will be wise.

    I didn’t include this in my email, but accepting the other position would have meant that we’d have to switch our kids’ schools and probably move (within the large urban area we live in) as the offer would have put me working over an hour away from my kids’ current school – doable for the current year, but not sustainable long term given my spouse’s travel schedule and carpool reciprocity. Much as I do not want to make professional decisions for family reasons, this became a crucial factor given the “no good options” feeling. When I first applied for the job, I thought if it worked out they would start there this school year, but the process dragged.

    And as for the other company’s persistence — it did feel like too much. The process was weird. I was interviewed months after applying, then radio silence for slightly too long (I assumed they had moved on — though I’ve been assured by an insider they hadn’t), then a request for references, and before those were contacted, an offer. Then I turned it down to HR, then instantly I was contacted by separate other stakeholders more than once a day until I agreed to a lunch meeting (that they drove an hour for!). The lunch meeting was great, and included many apologies for the botched offer. And then I got a near-daily follow up trying to tell me how great the job would be, without actually addressing any of the concerns I had raised.

    So…possibly a case of no good options?

    Thank you again everyone — I’ve read many of the comments so far, and will try to read them all soon! I am very glad that my sense that this was Not Good has been so thoroughly validated!!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m glad you found a way to make it work without those horrible clauses in there!

      That said, I am also taking all of this as a GIANT red flag and will restart the job search in the new year

      Just keep in mind they know you’re unhappy and were looking enough to get an actual job offer, so they may also be looking to replace you as soon as they can, too.

      Much as I do not want to make professional decisions for family reasons

      I don’t think there’s any shame in making professional decisions for family reasons. People do it all the time. They switch jobs because a spouse started a PhD program in another part of the country. Or they have to move to be closer to an ailing parent. Or their kids moved out, and an “empty nest” means possibly moving somewhere else. Hell, I’ve switched jobs just because the commute is too long! Definitely don’t feel any shame about not wanting to move far away from your kids’ school.

      1. Empty Sky*

        Yes, I make professional decisions for family reasons all the time. Your employer has many other options if they lose you, but your kids only have one set of parents.

        It doesn’t sound like either of these companies is a keeper. I’m glad you were able to make it work, but you should think of yourself as a contractor from now on and treat it like an arm’s-length business relationship – one of the mercenary kind, where you either need to keep the other party’s interests aligned with yours or else watch for a knife in your back and take appropriate precautions (as it sounds like you have done).

        From your description it sounds to me like your boss wants to keep you even at the higher rate, while the company as a whole does not – or at least, it sees the precedent of the counteroffer as enough of a negative to make the trade-off not worth it. It also sounds like your boss skimped on the due diligence when putting the offer together and found that he had not secured proper HR approvals (or that might be unfair to him, and they might have reneged on the deal). The attempt to silence you (and make you ineligible for the next merit raise) also suggests that they believe they’re now paying you above market (even if you’re boss doesn’t) so you can expect further attempts to bring you back into line down the road.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m glad that at least you’ve negotiated a better deal. There’s only 2 months left in the year, so good luck finding a new job with a better employer!

    3. Oranges*

      Oh yeah. That’s too much. Way too much push to get you, well… unless you can actually code css well*. Then I can see it.

      *CSS is easy to code. Hard to code right. Like how I could make a shed in my backyard out of lumber (and no internet look-ups) but it wouldn’t last. A builder on the other hand….

    4. Betty Boop*

      Thanks for the update! It is good that you negotiated the terms and got it to be a better counter offer than they were putting into the letter.

    5. SierraSkiing*

      Good for you- it sounds like you’re making the best out of a weird situation with two weird companies! I hope your job search goes well and you find a company that will respect you, pay you what you’re worth, and not try to pressure you over major career decisions. Keep us updated!

    6. LeRainDrop*

      Thanks for the update! You seem to have really good instincts and judgment about all this. Wishing you the best as you close out the year and then reopen your job search!

  54. BeenThere*

    I took a job solely for the fact that it included on-site subsidized childcare. I stayed until the kids were in school and then I was out! It wasn’t the worst job I ever had, but certainly not in the top 5 best either. Sometimes we make career decisions solely for our family. I don’t regret it.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve worked in a bunch of independent schools, and I know plenty of teachers who taught there mainly so their kids could attend the school tuition-free (or tuition-heavily-subsidized). Many, many people make career decisions based on family.

  55. Jennifer Juniper*

    I thought it was SOP for companies to put workers in OP’s situation at the top of the next layoff list and/or set them up to fail so they would be fired. Take the other job, OP, and get out of there!

  56. The Doctor*

    If I were a cynic, I would suspect that they intend to trigger the payback clause themselves just by giving you a strategically less-than-stellar review, or even by laying you off.

  57. Observer*

    I haven’t read the comments, but a thought.

    If you still can go to the new company please do so. Your current company is not only acting in totally bad faith, what they are demanding is illegal. They cannot require you to sign away the right to discuss you salary and working conditions with others.

  58. Jojo*

    I would bet that your next review is going to be less than what you have been used to getting which means you will have to pay back the raise. That agreement is totally one sided and not on your side. Take the other companies offer if it is still open.

Comments are closed.