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Job and life in Boston questions :)

Job and life in Boston questions :)

Old Jan 12th 2021, 9:39 pm
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Question Job and life in Boston questions :)

Hello everyone,

I'm in the final stages of recruitment for a job in MA. The position will be a engineering manager role. I have not got a good understanding of how employment works in the USA, but my impression is that employees have negligible rights compared to the UK so I'd like to make sure I've got my contract watertight (or as far as possible). I've also got lots of questions about medical insurance, where to live etc, so I would be grateful for help from anyone, especially anyone in the Boston area:
  • What are typical contract terms for an engineering manager in the USA/MA? What should I expect to see and what could be a warning sign?
  • Is it worth finding an attorney to look over the contract and suggest improvements? If so any recommendations?
  • I read that there is no obligation for the employer to put a minimum notice period in the contract, but is it normal to do so? What is a usual notice period?
  • In lieu of a notice period, do employers do payoffs and gardening leave instead? Or do people just get sacked with no notice?!
  • I know that Americans have a lot less paid leave than we consider normal in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. This company does "unlimited" leave but the recruiter said 2-3 weeks is normal. Do you think taking 4 weeks would be considered unacceptable? 5 weeks? (5 weeks being normal in UK).
  • What are typical weekly office hours in Boston? Start/finish times and hours per week?
  • Medical insurance cover seems poor, the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums make it seem like it could get quite expensive. Obviously the UK is free, and France where we are now is 90%, so I have quite high expectations on this so I know I need to adjust my expectations. What is reasonable amount of cover?
  • If emergency medical cover is needed in the USA outside of the insured area (in this case New England) then do I need separate insurance for that?
  • I presume we will still need travel insurance medical cover if we need emergency care in other countries? Or does medical insurance in the USA normally cover emergency medical support in other countries too?
  • The life, death and disability coverage the company provides is extremely poor, only up to one year's salary for life/accidental death and less than half salary for disability, is that normal? I think I will have to improve this somehow, either some expat coverage or something USA-specific.
  • I presume that for visas we will need to prove we've been vaccinated against various diseases. Will we be told what additional vaccinations we need as part of the visa application? And with how much notice?
  • The company will match 4% of contributions to a 401k plan. To me that's analogous to a defined contribution pension scheme, is that right? Is 4% good, average, poor?
  • We will need assistance from someone (or more than one person) who understands UK, French and USA tax systems in order to properly complete the USA tax returns, at least for the first year. Any recommendations?
  • My feeling is that importing our car from France will be pretty much impossible due to type approval differences, is that a good assumption?
  • Where in Greater Boston is a good place to live in order to have some fellow Brits around? Not to avoid integrating, but to help us understand some of the things which are obvious and taken for granted by Americans but are completely bewildering to us! Or if not a place to live, are there some well-known places we can meet up with some British people once in a while?
  • We'd like to live within 30 minutes commute of Cambridgeport by bike or public transport. Ideally a house with a garden. Any suggestions for areas?
  • If anyone knows a good pre-school or kindergarten where they speak French, or a French playgroup or similar that would be good to help our daughters continue practising French.
  • My wife will be on an H4 visa so will need to find a company to sponsor an H1B visa to work. She's a financial analyst. If anyone has any suggestions of which companies might be a good place to look for a job please share.
  • In case we have to quarantine when we move (probably April) then can anyone suggest a good place to stay for 2 weeks where we won't go mad?
  • Can anyone recommend an agency which can help with our relocation to Boston? E.g. find possible places to rent for us to look at, liaise with estate agents, help us set up utilities, get a car, enrol in school, get a bank account, credit card, register with the authorities, IRS/social security, etc - whatever we need to do when we arrive basically.
I know that's quite a list, but is there anything else you think I should bear in mind?

Thanks
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 10:01 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

I stopped reading at the 10th question .......
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 10:10 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Do you actually have a visa sorted? It sounds like you're going to get a H-1B, are you aware that they are subject to a lottery so you may not get selected and even if you are you won't be able to enter the USA until October at the earliest?

You probably can't import your car unless it's over 25 years old.
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 10:23 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Originally Posted by bostonwilly View Post
Hello everyone,

I'm in the final stages of recruitment for a job in MA. The position will be a engineering manager role. I have not got a good understanding of how employment works in the USA, but my impression is that employees have negligible rights compared to the UK so I'd like to make sure I've got my contract watertight (or as far as possible). I've also got lots of questions about medical insurance, where to live etc, so I would be grateful for help from anyone, especially anyone in the Boston area:
  • Medical insurance cover seems poor, the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums make it seem like it could get quite expensive. Obviously the UK is free, and France where we are now is 90%, so I have quite high expectations on this so I know I need to adjust my expectations. What is reasonable amount of cover?
Medical plans these days do not have limits on the amount of cover as per the Affordable Care Act
Monthly premiums, deductibles and co-pays mean that US medical insurance is expensive - even with a group scheme. Budget several hundred dollars a month to cover. From your postings you have wife and 2 children.
If you go out of network (emergency treatment out of your local area for example) then you can expect to pay more out of pocket for the treatment - one can't take out another policy just to cover out of network treatment.
Some plans cover overseas travel, some don't. You need to check this with your employer.
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 10:59 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Originally Posted by Olly_ View Post
Do you actually have a visa sorted? It sounds like you're going to get a H-1B, are you aware that they are subject to a lottery so you may not get selected and even if you are you won't be able to enter the USA until October at the earliest?

You probably can't import your car unless it's over 25 years old.
I don’t think that true... my brother put his newer VW camper on a ROLO in the Netherlands, picked left it on past a Halifax and NYC/NJ and collected it in Baltimore for lower port fees, you need insurnace but can drive with a valid registration “at home” (You see super cars from the ME outside all the nice London hotels, they are even flown in). He ended up re-registering it in Canada as he decided to stay a few years and then drove back through the US and took it back to Europe and re-registered it there. I think it cost $2-3k each way, plus a few weeks wait. I think in Europe it’s even easier, they seek some sort of insurance at the borders for cars that come over land, I recall there is some international convention that covers it all.

Last edited by tht; Jan 12th 2021 at 11:02 pm.
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 11:06 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
I stopped reading at the 10th question .......
You lasted that long?
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 11:09 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

OP should get a book on Labor Law in the USA.
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 11:31 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Most of these questions you should be asking the recruiter; not here.

Workers in American can be fired at will, without notice and without any type of compensation, garden or otherwise.

2 to 3 weeks is normal vacation time as the recruiter advised and then you will have the mandatory public holidays and if lucky, sick/personal time. And, no, you cannot usually take all that time at once.

Sounds like you are being recruited for an H-B visa which isn't the best of visas that being reserved, IMHO, to the L visas. Is it a capped or uncapped position. If capped, then I believe your getting the visa is you accept is not guaranteed. There are only so many H visas available annually and it is a lottery system as to who is one of the lucky chosen.

Last edited by Rete; Jan 12th 2021 at 11:34 pm.
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 11:33 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

You know something? After reading through your many bullet points/questions, please do yourself and the American public a favor and do not take the job. I can only see frustration, anger and disappointment for you in my crystal ball.
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 11:45 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Originally Posted by tht View Post
I don’t think that true... my brother put his newer VW camper on a ROLO in the Netherlands, picked left it on past a Halifax and NYC/NJ and collected it in Baltimore for lower port fees, you need insurnace but can drive with a valid registration “at home” (You see super cars from the ME outside all the nice London hotels, they are even flown in). He ended up re-registering it in Canada as he decided to stay a few years and then drove back through the US and took it back to Europe and re-registered it there. I think it cost $2-3k each way, plus a few weeks wait. I think in Europe it’s even easier, they seek some sort of insurance at the borders for cars that come over land, I recall there is some international convention that covers it all.
Temporary imports are easy if you're a tourist, getting it registered locally is more of a problem when you're planning on staying in the USA.
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Old Jan 12th 2021, 11:50 pm
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Originally Posted by Olly_ View Post
Temporary imports are easy if you're a tourist, getting it registered locally is more of a problem when you're planning on staying in the USA.
maybe Canada is easier... either way this should be pretty low on the ops priorities... not sure if MA employment at will, that may be a place for him to start googling...
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Old Jan 13th 2021, 12:01 am
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

I think the visa is the biggest issue by far!
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Old Jan 13th 2021, 12:21 am
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Originally Posted by bostonwilly View Post
Hello everyone,

I'm in the final stages of recruitment for a job in MA. The position will be a engineering manager role. I have not got a good understanding of how employment works in the USA, but my impression is that employees have negligible rights compared to the UK so I'd like to make sure I've got my contract watertight (or as far as possible). I've also got lots of questions about medical insurance, where to live etc, so I would be grateful for help from anyone, especially anyone in the Boston area:
  • What are typical contract terms for an engineering manager in the USA/MA? What should I expect to see and what could be a warning sign?
  • Is it worth finding an attorney to look over the contract and suggest improvements? If so any recommendations?
  • I read that there is no obligation for the employer to put a minimum notice period in the contract, but is it normal to do so? What is a usual notice period?
  • In lieu of a notice period, do employers do payoffs and gardening leave instead? Or do people just get sacked with no notice?!
  • I know that Americans have a lot less paid leave than we consider normal in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. This company does "unlimited" leave but the recruiter said 2-3 weeks is normal. Do you think taking 4 weeks would be considered unacceptable? 5 weeks? (5 weeks being normal in UK).
  • What are typical weekly office hours in Boston? Start/finish times and hours per week?
  • Medical insurance cover seems poor, the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums make it seem like it could get quite expensive. Obviously the UK is free, and France where we are now is 90%, so I have quite high expectations on this so I know I need to adjust my expectations. What is reasonable amount of cover?
  • If emergency medical cover is needed in the USA outside of the insured area (in this case New England) then do I need separate insurance for that?
  • I presume we will still need travel insurance medical cover if we need emergency care in other countries? Or does medical insurance in the USA normally cover emergency medical support in other countries too?
  • The life, death and disability coverage the company provides is extremely poor, only up to one year's salary for life/accidental death and less than half salary for disability, is that normal? I think I will have to improve this somehow, either some expat coverage or something USA-specific.
  • I presume that for visas we will need to prove we've been vaccinated against various diseases. Will we be told what additional vaccinations we need as part of the visa application? And with how much notice?
  • The company will match 4% of contributions to a 401k plan. To me that's analogous to a defined contribution pension scheme, is that right? Is 4% good, average, poor?
  • We will need assistance from someone (or more than one person) who understands UK, French and USA tax systems in order to properly complete the USA tax returns, at least for the first year. Any recommendations?
  • My feeling is that importing our car from France will be pretty much impossible due to type approval differences, is that a good assumption?
  • Where in Greater Boston is a good place to live in order to have some fellow Brits around? Not to avoid integrating, but to help us understand some of the things which are obvious and taken for granted by Americans but are completely bewildering to us! Or if not a place to live, are there some well-known places we can meet up with some British people once in a while?
  • We'd like to live within 30 minutes commute of Cambridgeport by bike or public transport. Ideally a house with a garden. Any suggestions for areas?
  • If anyone knows a good pre-school or kindergarten where they speak French, or a French playgroup or similar that would be good to help our daughters continue practising French.
  • My wife will be on an H4 visa so will need to find a company to sponsor an H1B visa to work. She's a financial analyst. If anyone has any suggestions of which companies might be a good place to look for a job please share.
  • In case we have to quarantine when we move (probably April) then can anyone suggest a good place to stay for 2 weeks where we won't go mad?
  • Can anyone recommend an agency which can help with our relocation to Boston? E.g. find possible places to rent for us to look at, liaise with estate agents, help us set up utilities, get a car, enrol in school, get a bank account, credit card, register with the authorities, IRS/social security, etc - whatever we need to do when we arrive basically.
I know that's quite a list, but is there anything else you think I should bear in mind?

Thanks
MA is employment at will so your employer can fire you the same day without a reason.
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/ma...nt-termination
Unless you negotiate a severance you may not get anything. Gardening leave is normally related to a paid non-compete, they are questionable in MA after changes in the law there so less likely, but even if you have one, you will be terminated so your H1b status would not be valid unless you find a new employer and you would have to settle up your affairs and leave.

Health insurance is complicated. At one end of the spectrum a family plan with low deductible / co-insurance /max out of pocket will cost your employer and you about $5-6k a month for a family (expect to maybe have a 80/20 split in premiums between you employer and a pre tax deduction from your salary, but the split can vary a lot)... then you pay all the out of pocket costs which could be up to $2-3k for a year maximum. At the other end of the spectrum a HDHP will run about $1700 a month for a family, but aside from some preventative care basics the plan won’t pay anything till you meet your deductible/out of pocket maximum that will be in the $12-16k a year for the family (individuals will be lower), this can be offset with a Pretax HSA. Some larger employers will offer multiple plans and others may only offer 1.

a 4% 401k match is somewhere in the middle, I have seen lower and higher... note if your only there a few years your match may never “vest” as some employers put in a wait time if a year or 2 i.e. if you leave they keep their match contributions and you keep yours.

If your coming from France you may be used to 30+ vacation days plus public holidays... you may be offered a lot less in the US... or they may match your current allowance... as with most private industry jobs here... it’s mostly down to negotiation.

The biggest issue you may want to consider is making sure a move back home is included if things don’t work out... it would suck to move and take a lease and buy/lease a car and then be fired and have lots of financial commitments to settle before you have to depart in a couple of weeks after being fired. The US is not like France when it comes to employee protection...

Last edited by tht; Jan 13th 2021 at 12:25 am.
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Old Jan 13th 2021, 12:27 am
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

Originally Posted by bostonwilly View Post
Hello everyone,

I'm in the final stages of recruitment for a job in MA. The position will be a engineering manager role. I have not got a good understanding of how employment works in the USA, but my impression is that employees have negligible rights compared to the UK so I'd like to make sure I've got my contract watertight (or as far as possible). I've also got lots of questions about medical insurance, where to live etc, so I would be grateful for help from anyone, especially anyone in the Boston area:
  • What are typical contract terms for an engineering manager in the USA/MA? What should I expect to see and what could be a warning sign?
    • Probably none, other than a non disclosure agreement.
  • Is it worth finding an attorney to look over the contract and suggest improvements? If so any recommendations?
    • You keep saying contract. Unless you're self employed and billing them there is no contract.
  • I read that there is no obligation for the employer to put a minimum notice period in the contract, but is it normal to do so? What is a usual notice period?
    • Unless MA has some state law on this, there isn't. And there is no contract.
  • In lieu of a notice period, do employers do payoffs and gardening leave instead? Or do people just get sacked with no notice?!
    • Depends on why you're being let go. If it's a planned redundancy then probably come to some terms. You may be paid out for unused and accrued time off. Otherwise nothing.
  • I know that Americans have a lot less paid leave than we consider normal in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. This company does "unlimited" leave but the recruiter said 2-3 weeks is normal. Do you think taking 4 weeks would be considered unacceptable? 5 weeks? (5 weeks being normal in UK).
    • Unlimited PTO (annual leave) is a pile of crap and is in place to stop employers from paying out if employees leave. If 2-3 weeks is normal then taking more is probably a quick way to get yourself in the bad books of whoever is picking up your work.
  • What are typical weekly office hours in Boston? Start/finish times and hours per week?
    • Ask your recruiter.
  • Medical insurance cover seems poor, the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums make it seem like it could get quite expensive. Obviously the UK is free, and France where we are now is 90%, so I have quite high expectations on this so I know I need to adjust my expectations. What is reasonable amount of cover?
    • It isn't free in the UK. I get what you're saying though. Depends on your proneness to medical intervention and your family size.
  • If emergency medical cover is needed in the USA outside of the insured area (in this case New England) then do I need separate insurance for that?
    • No. It's called out of network. Though their network may include facilities in other states.
  • I presume we will still need travel insurance medical cover if we need emergency care in other countries? Or does medical insurance in the USA normally cover emergency medical support in other countries too?
    • Ask the insurer. Probably is covered, but probably still good to get it via a travel policy that covers more and has lower deductibles.
  • The life, death and disability coverage the company provides is extremely poor, only up to one year's salary for life/accidental death and less than half salary for disability, is that normal? I think I will have to improve this somehow, either some expat coverage or something USA-specific.
    • Search term life insurance. Cheap.
  • I presume that for visas we will need to prove we've been vaccinated against various diseases. Will we be told what additional vaccinations we need as part of the visa application? And with how much notice?
    • Not sure. I expect so.
  • The company will match 4% of contributions to a 401k plan. To me that's analogous to a defined contribution pension scheme, is that right? Is 4% good, average, poor?
    • A 401k is not a pension scheme in the slightest. From limited experience 4% is average.
  • We will need assistance from someone (or more than one person) who understands UK, French and USA tax systems in order to properly complete the USA tax returns, at least for the first year. Any recommendations?
    • Plenty of expat accountants.
  • My feeling is that importing our car from France will be pretty much impossible due to type approval differences, is that a good assumption?
    • Yes.
  • Where in Greater Boston is a good place to live in order to have some fellow Brits around? Not to avoid integrating, but to help us understand some of the things which are obvious and taken for granted by Americans but are completely bewildering to us! Or if not a place to live, are there some well-known places we can meet up with some British people once in a while?
    • No clue.
  • We'd like to live within 30 minutes commute of Cambridgeport by bike or public transport. Ideally a house with a garden. Any suggestions for areas?
    • No clue.
  • If anyone knows a good pre-school or kindergarten where they speak French, or a French playgroup or similar that would be good to help our daughters continue practising French.
    • Nope. Probably won't find one.
  • My wife will be on an H4 visa so will need to find a company to sponsor an H1B visa to work. She's a financial analyst. If anyone has any suggestions of which companies might be a good place to look for a job please share.
    • Good luck. Seems you need to get yours sorted too.
  • In case we have to quarantine when we move (probably April) then can anyone suggest a good place to stay for 2 weeks where we won't go mad?
    • Ask the recruiter if the company has a relationship with a specific chain.
  • Can anyone recommend an agency which can help with our relocation to Boston? E.g. find possible places to rent for us to look at, liaise with estate agents, help us set up utilities, get a car, enrol in school, get a bank account, credit card, register with the authorities, IRS/social security, etc - whatever we need to do when we arrive basically.
    • No
I know that's quite a list, but is there anything else you think I should bear in mind?

Thanks
My 2 cents are in line.
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Old Jan 13th 2021, 1:12 am
  #15  
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Default Re: Job and life in Boston questions :)

How important is it for your wife to get a work visa?

How long are you looking at staying?

Just wondering how practical it is with 2 small children.
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