I am working for a German company. This company sent me to the USA for several years, unluckily there has been a leadership change, and the new leader decided not to renew my expat assignment.

In two months I will be back to Germany, and I am not sure of my rights. Can someone give me guidance?

  • In my last two salary reviews, I got a good salary increase. Do I have the right to keep that salary increase? Or can they force me to take the salary I got before the expat assignment?

  • During my expat assignment, my role has changed. My current role can be done with any issues from Europe, and that´s one of the reasons for not extending my expat assignment. Are they obliged to let me do my current role in Europe? Or can they force me to take my old role? What happens if the old role doesn't exist?

  • 2
    This looks like legal questions, and quite complex ones (because nobody knows if US or German law would apply). I'd see what they suggest that should happen, and if they proceed in a way you don't like, ask about how to change their mind, not what your legal rights are. And often, what they have to pay, and what role they have to give you, are different. It is not uncommon that an employee has to accept a lower role, but at the salary for a much higher role.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 9:13
  • I'm not sure we can help with this. This has to do with German law and might even be an issue a German would face. Hopefully somebody with deep experience will pick this up.
    – ouflak
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 16:25
  • Consider if you even want to go back. If your current local manager likes your work, he probably would be willing to take you on permanently. That's a life-changing decision for sure, but make it consciously, not accidentially.
    – Aganju
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 16:54
  • Do you have a permanent contract with the German company?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


This completely depends on the details in your contract. You should check the fine print of what you signed when starting the expat.

For example, I had in my contract (I would assume this is typical, but I have no real data base to say so):

  • You are guaranteed a position equivalent to the one you had when you left
  • you are guaranteed a salary equivalent to the one you had when you left, plus the customary increases.
  • you are not guaranteed the salary, salary increases, or position you reached in the foreign country.

That doesn't sound too great, but in reality, most companies value the experience of the expat time high, and move homecoming people in a higher position (managerial, or if you were a manager when starting, senior management). There is no such promise or guarantee, of course. You are a valuable asset for the company, and they should be interested in putting you in a position of responsibility.

However, what really happens, depends a lot on your respective home-country manager / mentor and his intentions. If he doesn't care (or doesn't like you), it can end ugly. If you are afraid of that, I recommend to get in contact with as many senior management members in the home country as you can - anyone that knows you personally - and ask if they have a position to offer you. Most of them probably value what you bring, and would try to find a nice spot for you if they can. Don't rely exclusively on the manager whos job it should be to care about you.

Note that the previous paragraph assumes that you are a good performer. If you are a low performer (or if people think so), you might end up with the guaranteed minimum and nothing else.

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