Can they make me repay my relocation bonus?


I was offered a job with a relocation bonus. It was on a psychiatric unit at a community hospital. This was in August. My agreement stated I had to stay for 2 years or I had to repay it. It is now December and they are closing my unit. They can't keep the census up enough to make it profitable to have open. So they have advised that all of our nurses and cnas can apply within the company and work in a different area. However, there aren't any more psych units within the company and I don't want to go back to med surg. My question is, if I decline to transfer within the company to another position, can they make me repay my relocation bonus? I would have never moved for it if it wasn't psych. I would think since they are technically eliminating my position, even if they say I can apply within the company, it should get me off the hook so I can apply somewhere else and stay in psych instead of having to work med-surg until my 2 years is up just to fufill my contract. I called HR and she danced around my question. She said, "we value all of the #### unit employees and would like for them to stay within the company". So I left it at that until I can learn more about this. Thanks ahead for any advice!

Specializes in orthopedic/trauma, Informatics, diabetes. Has 11 years experience.

that's a tricky one. I wold say that if they cant offer you the same position, you shouldn't have to, but if they have a spot in med/surg, they might force you to take it or repay it. I'd try to negotiate a way out. That's not fair to you.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 7,907 Posts

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

It depends on what is in the terms of the agreement. If they can place you elsewhere in the company, then they may have you on the hook for those expenses should you leave before the 2 years is up.

Since HR is skirting your question, you may want to consider consulting a lawyer (most offer free or reduced-fee consultations) to look over the agreement and see what you're obligated to, as well as to see if they can find you an "out" to get out of repaying.

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

2,776 Posts

Specializes in school nurse. Has 31 years experience.

Interesting that they can't keep census up. I've heard that many areas have a big shortage of psychiatric beds...


359 Posts

Most likely they can require you to repay if you leave. You probably agreed to remain employed by the hospital for 2 years not the psych unit. It is highly unlikely you were contracted to a psych position for 2 years since virtually all employment paperwork includes a provision that either party care terminate the employment at any time for any reason. New hires cost an organization a lot even without relocation and they are very careful to make sure they get some return on that investment. Get an attorney to look over your new hire paperwork if you really want to be sure (what I told you before is probably the most you'll get out of them during a free consultation so you'll need to shell out a couple hundred dollars) but unfortunately you're choices are probably limited to repaying or having to suck it up and take another position in a different area.