Should A Physician Receive Relocation Reimbursement When Moving for a New Job?

Relocation assistance is customarily provided to a physician when the employer assists new hires with relocating from one location to another.  Relocation assistance for a physician can range from $5000-$15000.  It is a benefit designed to help ease the financial burden of moving and get the employee started in their new position as quickly as possible.

New Job Relocation

Relocation associated costs can include:

  • House-hunting trip: Relocation assistance can include house hunting trips of short duration to give the transferee and family opportunities to find new homes. 
  • Transportation:  Relocation assistance can include repayment for transporting the doctor and their family to the new location. If the doctor can travel by automobile, mileage reimbursement is common. Plane flights and vehicle transfer can also be included.
  • Temporary housing:  Some employers allow to reimburse the costs of up to 30 days of temporary housing for transferees after moving to the new job.
  • Packing/Unpacking: Household goods are packed by a moving company, saving the doctor time and stress.  Additionally, the company, after arriving at the new destination, can unpack the household goods too after moving is complete.

Are Relocation Reimbursement Expenses Taxable?

It’s no secret that relocating to a new city is often stressful. But have you ever wondered what, if any, tax implications come with it? Well the short answer is “yes”. The IRS and state authorities all consider relocation expenses paid by an employer as taxable income for employees – including household goods transportation, temporary living expenses, miscellaneous allowances lump sum payments and more.

These days, most people don’t have the time to pack up their entire lives and move across town. Fortunately, there are ways for them to get reimbursed by their employer – or even pay less in taxes! Just remember that moving expense deductions were eliminated as of January 1st 2018 so if you’re looking at a big change soon it’s worth getting out ahead of the game with your tax planning today.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took effect on Jan 1st 2018 which means all those who want to take advantage of any potential deductions need act quickly before they expire.

When a company’s employees move to new locations, the tax impact on their wallets can be significant. The specific tax implications depend largely on an income and place of residence before they moved; but in general, employers will pay for relocation expenses such as moving costs or temporary housing while waiting for permanent arrangements after arriving at destination—and these are taxed like any other earnings each year through Form W-2. Employers may also offer additional benefits that help persuade you to relocate!

Physician Employment Agreement Review

Contracts are a pervasive and obligatory part of nearly all company and legal transactions. Well-drafted contracts help to enumerate the responsibilities of the involved parties, divide liabilities, protect legal rights, and insure future relationship statuses. These touchstones are even more crucial when applying their roles to the case of a provider employed by a hospital, medical group, or other health care provider. While contract drafting and negotiation can be a long and arduous process, legal representation is a must in order to ensure that your rights are being protected.

The present-day conclusion is simple: A doctor should not enter into any contract without having the agreement reviewed by legal counsel.

There is simply too much at risk for a doctor to take contract matters into their own hands. In addition to the specific professional implications, contract terms can significantly impact a provider’s family, lifestyle, and future. There are many important contract terms and clauses which can present complex and diverse issues for any provider, including:

  • Non-compete clauses
  • Damages
  • Indemnification
  • Verbal guarantees
  • Insurance statements

Additionally, often times the most influential terms and clauses in any employment contract are the ones that are not present. With the advent of productivity based employment agreements it is imperative that any doctor have an employment agreement reviewed before it is executed. Attorney Robert Chelle has practical experience drafting and reviewing provider contracts for nearly every specialty.

New residents, attending physicians, doctors entering into their first employment contract or established physicians looking for new employment can all benefit from a thorough contract review. By employing an experienced attorney for your representation, you can insure that you will be able to fully understand the extensive and complex wording included in your contract. By having a full and complete understanding of the contract, you will be in a better position to make your own decision on whether or not you want to enter into the agreement which will affect your career life for years to come.

The financial benefits gained from having your contract reviewed and negotiated by an experienced healthcare attorney far outweigh the costs associated with a review. You are a valuable resource, and you should be treated and respected as such. Attorney Robert Chelle will personally dedicate his time to make sure that your are fully protected and will assist you in the contract process so that your interests are fairly represented.

Every physician contract is unique.  However, nearly all contracts for health care providers should contain several essential terms.  If these essential terms in the contract are not spelled out in contracts, disputes can arise when there is a disagreement between the parties as to the details of the specific term.  For instance, if the doctor is expecting to work  Monday through Thursday and the employer is expecting the provider to work Monday through Friday, but the specific workdays are absent from the Agreement; who prevails?

Physician Contract Checklist Including Employee Relocation

Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid contract conflicts during the term of your employment.  Below is a checklist of essential terms that contracts should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):

  1. Practice Services Offered: What are the clinical patient care duties? Are you given time for review of administrative tasks? How many patients are you expected to see (like in pediatrics)?
  2. Patient Care Schedule: What days and hours per week are you expected to provide patient care?  What is the surgery schedule? Are you involved in the planning of your schedule?
  3. Locations: Which facilities will you be scheduled to provide care at (outpatient clinic, surgical sites, in-patient services, etc.)?
  4. Outside Activities: Are you permitted to pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you accept those practice of medicine related positions?
  5. Disability Insurance: Is disability insurance provided (short-term and long-term)?
  6. Medical License:  Will the practice offer expense repayment for your license? Will an advisor be provided?
  7. Practice Call Schedule: How often are you on call (after hours office call, hospital call (if applicable))?
  8. Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What EMR system is used in the practice of medicine? Will you receive training or time to review the system prior to providing care?
  9. Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency?  Does the base compensation increase over the term of the Agreement? Is there an annual review or quarterly review of compensation?
  10. Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation; how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)? Is there an annual review?
  11. Practice Benefits Summary: Are standard benefits offered: health, vision, dental, life, retirement, etc.?  Who is the advisor of human resource benefits?
  12. Paid Time Off: How much time off does the job offer? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance and holidays?  Is there a HR guide?
  13. Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses and how much time off is offered?
  14. Dues and Fees: Which financial expenses are covered (board licensing, DEA registration, privileging, AMA membership, Board review)?
  15. Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if the Agreement is terminated prior to the expiration of the initial term?
  16. Signing Bonus: Is an employee signing bonus offered? When is it paid?  Do you have to pay it back if you leave before the initial term is completed? Are student loans paid back?  Is there a forgiveness period for student loans?
  17. Professional Liability Insurance: What type of liability insurance (malpractice) is offered: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
  18. Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary, who is responsible to pay for it when the Agreement is terminated?
  19. Term: What is the length of the initial term? Does the Agreement automatically renew after the initial term?
  20. For Cause Termination: What are the grounds for immediate termination for cause?  Is a review provided to dispute the termination?
  21. Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the Agreement without case?
  22. Practice Post Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the Agreement is terminated?
  23. Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
  24. Financial Retirement:  Is a financial retirement plan offered?
  25. Non-Solicitation: How long does it last and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
  26. Notice: How is notice given? Via hand delivery, email, US mail, etc.?  Does it have to be provided to the employer’s attorney?
  27. Practice Assignment: Can the Agreement be assigned by the employer?
  28. Alternative Dispute Resolution: If there is a conflict regarding the contract, will mediation or arbitration process be utilized?  What is the standard attorney review process for conflict?  Who decides which attorney oversees the process?

If you have questions about claims-made or occurrence coverage and your current malpractice insurance or are interested in having your employment agreement reviewed contact Chelle Law today.

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