Can employer change job description and demands?

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    I have been working with my present employer for numerous years. In the early days 80's, I recall a very concise job description. Through the years, the description has changed and recently the job description includes floating to different facilities and sometimes this involves extensive travel. My understanding is that it's legal for an employer to change a job description. However, I feel the travel is too extensive, and unreasonable. I have discussed this with my employer and I'm willing to work part time. However, they insist on the nurses doing extensive travel to compensate for shortages elsewhere. Other than leaving my job, is there anything I can do? Can I collect unemployment if I get fired for refusing to travel to accomodate my employers short staffing elsewhere. Some of the areas I must cover are 20-30 miles further than my usual work destination.
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    Quote from Marisette
    I have been working with my present employer for numerous years. In the early days 80's, I recall a very concise job description. Through the years, the description has changed and recently the job description includes floating to different facilities and sometimes this involves extensive travel. My understanding is that it's legal for an employer to change a job description. However, I feel the travel is too extensive, and unreasonable. I have discussed this with my employer and I'm willing to work part time. However, they insist on the nurses doing extensive travel to compensate for shortages elsewhere. Other than leaving my job, is there anything I can do? Can I collect unemployment if I get fired for refusing to travel to accomodate my employers short staffing elsewhere. Some of the areas I must cover are 20-30 miles further than my usual work destination.
    Generally speaking, yes, a job description can change. Often the job itself changes long before HR gets around to changing the official job description. Do you know how often you might float, how much notice you would have, if the employer takes into account where people live in determining what facility they could be sent to, etc? The answer is probably "no" but would they offer mileage reimbursement for longer commutes?

    Whether you can collect unemployment if you get fired depends on lots of things. You won't get a really knowledgeable answer here. An employment lawyer or your local unemployment office can provide better information on that.

    BTW, when I read "travel" I expected you to say that you would be away from home overnight, going to a different city, etc. Not going 20 or 30 miles further. That's more like a "commute." Not to say that's insignificant to you or anyone else. Personally, I find the time spent commuting is more important than the distance. Most days I would rather drive 30 miles in the opposite direction of rush hour commuters than 10 miles in the herd.

    Really, this is a personal decision only you can make. Does the increased travel/commute outweigh what you must find satisfying about the job, since you say you've been there for numerous years?
    netglow and GrnTea like this.
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    Yes, employers can change job descriptions and, apart from that, every nursing job description I've ever seen (in a few decades of nursing) has ended with a statement along the lines of "... and other duties as assigned by supervisor."

    So, yeah, as far as I know, your choices are basically to put up with it or voluntarily resign the position.
    KelRN215, netglow, and GrnTea like this.
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    Yes, I have been employed with them numerous years. Perhaps, commute is a better word for this, as overnight travel is not required. The communte can be two hours or longer in the winter, or rush hour, distance is usually 20-35 miles depending on the facility. Once arriving at the destination, a nurse may still be called to the home facility if needed anytime during the day. So basically, you keep your caseload of patients, while you help at the other facility. When I was first hired, there was no "commuting". I think it's time to leave, but not so easy to start as a new nurse elsewhere. I don't mind loosing some pay and benefits, but finding another nursing job in my state for someone who does not like "commuting" is not easy. Public transportation to the other facilities makes the commute longer,not to mention the waiting outdoors in winter weather.

    I realize I'm lucky to have a job, and after thinking it through further, realize my job description has changed numerous times. The travel/commute was not a requirement. Thanks, for you response.
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    In a right to work state your employer can do as they please.

    However, you also have the option to let them know how you feel about it by voting with your feet...and walking out the front door......
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    Wow. Commuting would take up far more time than working I would think. Are you a union hospital? I would most definetely speak to my union rep if you have one. Because you are perhaps more senior, I would think that there is some contract language pertaining to that. I would also think that I would apply for a management positon, if that were the case. Do they call you right prior to your shift to tell you where you will be? Because if you go in, clock in, and they have you driving all over creation--it is on the clock. And when you get to said facility, do you have to take an assignment? One that by the time you get there all of the assessing and med passing would have to have been done--I would be sure that the paperwork doesn't reflect you are giving meds and assessing "late" when in fact, you were called to the place at 8am and you didn't get there until after 9am......just doesn't sound fiscally smart, or for the good of the patient. If all of the facilities in your area are "commuting" then I would look for alternate RN positions--an MD office or school nursing, or something that did not require that.
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    I think job descriptions can change, new ones come out each year depending on what somebody did or didnt do that management felt were part of their job description

    For example smoking and flu shot policies are now incorportated into our job descriptions
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    For exempt employees (i. e., those exempt from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act), job descriptions can be modified at virtually any time for virtually any reason. In addition, employment for the non-exempt is generally considered to be "at will", meaning that you are free to leave your job at any time and your employer is also free to dismiss you at any time. Most salaried professionals earning over $23,600 annually are exempt employees; this would of course include nearly all RN's.

    Note that this has nothing to do with where you reside, so it makes no difference whether your are in a right to work state or not. Of course, if you are unionized, your contract specifies what can and can't be changed with respect to your job.
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    With the exception of a position covered by an employment contract which specifically precludes it, an employer is free to change the job description as they like. Likewise, the employee is free to refuse to perform the new duties... and the employer is free to terminate the employee for said refusal.

    If you resign or are terminated for cause (and yes, refusal to perform newly assigned duties would be cause), you are not entitled to unemployment insurance.
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    From looking at the above post, it appears that my employer can do pretty much what they please without consequence. There are almost no unions in my state, or with my present employer. Long time ago, there was a union effort by employees and after much lobbying and promises by my employers, the staff voted against it. I doubt the opportunity to vote will ever be provided again.

    Jadepn, My job does not involve med pass at specific hours. Mostly, I administer intravenous and subcutaneous medications given weekly in the outpatient setting and triaging calls or troubleshoot patient problems over the phone. I do clock in from one facilty to another so my employer can track how much time, I'm on the road, but travel time is paid. However, I can be paged with a problem from a patient while I"m on the expressway. If the issue can be resolved over the phone, all is well. But if more complex, I may be paging an MD or scheduling the pt. to meet me at their designated facility for assessment. It may not appear to be fiscally practical, but it is for my employer. They can hire less nursing staff and just make them float wherever they please. And if a nurse is too outspoken of my employer's request or assignment, they make it very difficult to continue employment. I spoke to my manager, and was informed that I can choose to resign. I was given documentation with an evaluation, stating that I would be willing to communte as needed if the need comes up. My evaluation was excellent, they just added a section about the requirement to commute. I signed it because I feared they would fire me. I don't mind floating or helping out as long as the communte is reasonable and 1.5-2 hrs, 32 miles is not reasonable, If I'm also responsible for my primary case load of patients. I have no problems when my commute is reasonable and I have honored their request. Basically, the nurses working my department are constantly quiting, with another nurse hired to replace the nurse shortly after. I have worked there numerous years, but I started long before these new requirements started.


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