Invoice Carefully – The Salary Might Be Higher Than They Say

Editor’s note: Jeff Allen has heard every employer excuse that you can imagine for not paying up — and dozens more that defy imagination. Over the last 18 months, he’s documented one a week. Because of the importance of collections, Fordyce will periodically reprise the most common situations he addressed. The complete collection is here.

What Client Says:

The candidate’s staring salary is lower.

How Client Pays:

Falsely stating the starting compensation is almost always done over the phone. Legally, you can be bound to the amount by invoicing based on it. This is because the employer can allege:

  • You orally agreed to accept less than the full fee.
  • You waived your right by not verifying the amount.
  • You weren’t sufficiently connected with the hire to know the offer.

There are two invoice protections you can use:

  1. State the annual compensation on the invoice (so a mistake will be apparent).
  2. Footnote the fee with:

To be adjusted pursuant to the enclosed fee schedule when verification of the candidate’s starting compensation is received.

But your best bet is to get something in writing like:

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  • A letter from the hiring authority.
  • A copy of the offer letter.
  • A copy of the payroll ledger.

Insist. You have an absolute right to this. If the client gives you some nonsense about the candidate’s “right to privacy,” or whatever, invoice immediately!

Do your homework, and a properly-worded invoice is all you’ll need to get paid.

More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at


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