Career Advice

What to Do if You Are Assigned a Forced Transfer at Work by Your Employer

So you’ve just got the news: you are assigned a forced transfer to a new position. Naturally, you’ll feel confused, pressured, nervous, anxious, or maybe even angry. 

Don’t let those emotions get to you. Instead, I’m going to give you some tips on what you should do if you are assigned a forced transfer at work. But before we get to that, let’s first get one thing straight…

Read More: What To Do If You Interviewed For One Position But HR Offered Another

Can an Employee Refuse to Be Transferred?

After all is said and done, what if you don’t want to transfer to another position, department, or location (depending on your situation)? Can an employee refuse to be transferred?

I’ll admit, it’s a bit complicated to answer that question. This is because it will solely depend on your situation. But to help you out, I’m going to individually focus on employee transfers related to a different position, a different department, and a different location. 

If your employer does an internal transfer from one position to the next, it may be harder to refuse. Let’s say, for example, they’re transferring employees because the current position is being ended but they still want to keep everyone. 

Well, it’s either you refuse the job transfer or end up having no job at all. Even if that’s not the reason, someone from Quora explains it best:

In most of the United States, employment is at will. So yes, they can transfer you. You also have the right to resign.

Of course, in this scenario, you can always talk to the HR representative about your concerns. Who knows, they may be able to keep you in your position. 

What if you’re asking, “Can I refuse to work in a different department?” If you’re forced to transfer departments in the workplace, you can always talk it over with HR. This conversation will depend on whether or not you can refuse. If you were promoted, there are good strategies to decline it. 

Read More: How to Decline a Promotion Due to Salary the Right Way (With Samples)

Still though, if the employer insists, then you will have to transfer to the new department. You can also choose to quit and find a new job (although one career advice is to avoid rash decisions about quitting. You may regret it). 

Read More: “I Quit My Job and Ruined My Life”: How to Avoid This Situation

Now, “Can my employer force me to work at a different location?” This makes it easier to counter an adverse action as it’s a bigger ask to move away. 

Also, your country may have employment laws allowing you to refuse relocation, especially if you’re being moved to another country. Here’s what Gayane Hakobyan from EPAM Anywhere says:

Your boss can’t force you to start working from another country, even if that country is next door. Moving between countries requires changing tax jurisdiction and (sometimes) citizenship.

Then again, your contract might have a mobility clause allowing employers to change an employee’s location. If so, no law can stand against it since you agreed beforehand. 

So you see? Refusing a forced transfer will depend on your particular situation. If you’re confused, always seek legal guidance from an employment lawyer. 

What to Do with a Forced Transfer at Work

So you’re told to transfer to a different facility, different job, or different location within the company. What should you do? Well, here are some tips to consider:

  • Control your emotions
  • Ask questions
  • Think about the pros and cons
  • Try to get out of it
  • Make your decision
  • Do your best

Control your emotions

As I said, you’ll probably go through all kinds of emotions when you’re assigned a forced transfer at work. The most common emotions are anxiety, stress, confusion, or anger. 

If you don’t control these overpowering emotions, you could do something you’ll regret later on. Let’s say you’re angry because you don’t like being forced into things. 

Well, you can easily lash out at your manager without even considering the move. This will put you in a bad light with your executives and the employer. 

So before you react, take a deep breath. Calm yourself. When you’ve controlled your emotions, you can move on to the next tip…

Read More: Understanding Emotional Mastery and How it Benefits Your Life

Ask questions

Who knows, you might love the new transfer. Or, maybe it will be better for your career growth or salary. You won’t know these things unless you ask. 

Even if you don’t like the idea of a forced transfer, it’s still a good idea to ask questions about the move to weigh in on your pros and cons. Here are some questions that you can ask your manager:

  • What is the reason for the transfer?
  • What are the expectations in the new role?
  • What are the transitional plans?
  • Will you provide the funds and papers if I move to a different country?
  • How will the transfer impact my compensation, benefits, and employment terms?
  • Are there opportunities for professional development and growth in the new role or within the organization?
  • Is there a possibility I can stay in my current role, department, or location?

Read More: 12 Tips on How To Ask Questions At Work Without Being Annoying

Think about the pros and cons

When you get the answers to your questions, you can make a list of pros and cons. Remember, a forced transfer can be a completely good thing. Some benefits can include higher pay, a better compensation package, more growth opportunities, your skills are needed in a certain role or department, etc…

The disadvantages might include feelings of discrimination or retaliation, you’ll have to move far away from home, the job title being something you’re not skilled at, etc…

Of course, this is just a general list. You’ll have to come up with your own pros and cons, depending on your situation. If you feel like the pros are fair enough, you can accept the transfer. If the cons are more prominent and it’s not worth it, you can try to get out of it or you’ll have to find a new job. 

Try to get out of it

Let’s say, after careful thought, you think the transfer is not the right move for you. Well, you can always try to talk your way out of it. 

For this, you need to have a strong argument (this is one reason why it’s crucial to know the reason for the forced transfer). Also, you should always remain calm and professional. 

To put out the best argument, here are some strategies to follow:

  • Express your concerns clearly. Highlight any potential negative impacts on your career, personal life, or job satisfaction.
  • Show your worth. Provide examples of your contributions, achievements, and success for the company. Let them know that, if you can keep your role, you’ll continue to push through with your top performance. Plus, showing that you’re an excellent employee will allow you to be heard more. 
  • Propose alternatives. If possible, propose alternatives to the transfer that could address the concerns or issues prompting the move.
  • Consider legal options. Depending on the circumstances and applicable employment laws, you may want to explore legal options or seek advice from an employment lawyer if you believe the transfer is unjust or discriminatory.

Make your decision

Finally, it’s time to make your decision. If you’re able to talk your way out of a forced transfer at work, there’s no need to make a decision. 

However, if you must follow with the transfer, you’ll have to make a hard decision. Will you go with the transfer and do your best to make things work for you? Or, will you quit your job and find a new one?

If you ask me, I’d say try out the new position, department, or location first (unless you really can’t move locations). This way, you can see if your concerns are genuine. If it is, then maybe it’s time to update your resume

Final Words

Forced transfer at work can be both a good and bad thing. If it’s good, then you should have no problem making the switch. 

If it’s not the best move for you (for whatever reason), you may want to try talking your way out of it. If not possible, then you’ll have to make a hard decision. Either way, the tips that I provided here are there to help you through this situation. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

No Comments

    Leave a Reply