Sign-on Bonus Question

  1. Hi All!

    I am a student nurse at the beginning of a two year program. My question is about sign-on bonus'. I have heard them called "sucker bonus' " and am wondering why? I know that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, but what is the "short end of the stick" behind the sign-on bonus?

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    About chiefswife, BSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '03; Posts: 554; Likes: 331


  3. by   Ahhphoey
    From what I understand, thoses sign-on bonuses, although very attractive, kind of sucker someone into a postion that they must stay in for a certain period of time or risk having to pay the bonus back. A lot of the time, you must sign on for a year or two at the facility. The problem with this is if you realize you despise that facility or just are not comfortable working there, you're bound by contract to stay.
  4. by   llg
    You have to ask yourself, "What's so bad about this job that no one will take it without being offered a bonus?" If it were really a good job, they wouldn't have to pay a sign-on bonus.

  5. by   Noney
    A sign on bonus isn't always a bad thing. I took a two year sign on bonus, and I'm just finishing up. I ended up with 3 nights in Orlando with $2000. I also recieved a separate $5000.

    I had already planned on working at this facility before I knew about the bonus. Before you take a bonus do alot of thinking. I do know a few people who have paid back bonuses. If you decide to take one ask about pay backs (just in case).

    It seems to me that if one hospital in the area offers a bonus the others usually follow with bonuses. Most people stay in the same job for more than two years anyway, so why not take the bonus.

    On the other hand, you give alot of the bonus back in taxes!
  6. by   NurseStacey143
    Ive heard that sometimes sign on bonuses are given, but 401 K's, insurance, benifits, etc...fall behind.
  7. by   MishlB
    I have to disagree with some of the previous posts. The hospital I am currently employed with offers bonuses to nurses, and the working conditions are great. It is not paid in a lump sum, but over two years...fine with me. The bonus is given to entice new nurses...sure...but most of the employees here have stayed for over 15 to 20 years. It's not always bad, just make sure you check out your prospective facilities before you sign. If you are taking a job just for the money, you will suffer for sure.
  8. by   live4today
    Originally posted by MishlB
    ..............If you are taking a job just for the money, you will suffer for sure.
    AMEN TO THAT! Be careful what you agree to and sign on for, you just might get something that will end up being a nightmare to live with. A year or two can seem like an eternity if the job turns out to be a "living hell" for ya.
  9. by   sjoe
    "If you are taking a job just for the money, you will suffer for sure. "

    I agree, however, you will also suffer for sure if you take a job that doesn't pay you enough to support yourself and whatever your needs are (family, etc.), with some left over to take vacations, etc. Martyrdom isn't enough in the long run.
  10. by   -jt
    <I have heard them called "sucker bonus' " and am wondering why? >

    One place I know of that is trying to start a sign-on bonus program makes it sound great for the unsuspecting nurse. But its not "free money" by any means. Those nurses aint getting nothin for nothin. This particular facility wants to give sign-on bonuses to new hires BUT in exchange for that money, it also wants to cut the contributions it makes to these nurses pensions by 1/2, not let them vest into it for 5 yrs, cut their medical benefits and make them pay for it too. And while the other nurses working there get 5 weeks vacation, these new hires would get only 4 weeks. The other nurses are able to cash out up to 150 hrs (about $4000) of accumulated unused sick time when they resign & get paid for those hrs. These new hires would not have that option and when they leave the facility, the pay for their accumulated unused sick time would be forfeited.

    So the sign-on "bonus" of a couple of thousand $$$ at this one facility would be no real bonus at all. In fact, at this place, the RN would be losing money in the long run. But she wont know it. She'll think shes getting all this "extra" money --- until she takes the job, starts talking to the other staff nurses & finds out about what they already have that she doesnt. By then she would have already accepted the deal and be stuck with it.

    Also, while those newly hired nurses would not be getting full pension contributions, or full vacation time, or any sick time cash-out, and would be paying the costs for their medical benefits themselves out of their own pocket the whole time, their sign-on bonuses would not be paid to them until the end of the term and only if the Rn has met a whole host of conditions that she must have maintained for the entire length of time she was working. If she messed up on any little thing, she would lose the right to the bonus and get nothing at the end of the term.

    So she has to spend a year or 2 walking on eggshells cause if her employee evaluation is not perfect, the bonus would not be paid. If she calls in sick more than twice in a year, she forfeits the bonus. So, if you use your sick time, you lose your bonus. If you dont use your sick time, you might get your bonus but lose the unused sick time cash out (which can be worth more than what the bonus would have been). If she gets any type of disciplinary action, the bonus would be cancelled then too. And with the current big focus on "customer satisfaction", a dissatisfied "customer" complaining that her call-bell wasnt answered by you "in a timely fashion", (never mind that you had 8 other pts requiring your attention at the same time & you only have 2 hands), or a doctor complaining about something she doesnt like about you could earn you a disciplinary action & cost you your bonus.

    A sign-on bonus like this one is a marketing scheme for the hospital but it would be a no-win for the nurse. Sign-on bonuses like this one seem to be used as bait to get you in, use you up, and then look for any reason to get out of having to pay you that money.

    In addition, there must be a reason why the place cant fill its vacant positions or keep its nurses. Usually its their working conditions. If youre considering a job offering a sign-on bonus, do your homework. There are some places that do the right thing and then there are a lot of places like the one I mentioned.

    Read the fine print before accepting.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 29, '03
  11. by   caroladybelle
    There are hospitals in certain states that hire you for the busy season, but your hours get cut in off season. You finally decide you cannot work with hours cut all the time - you leave, and there goes your bonus.

    Or your hours get cut and you don't fulfill the hourly obligations of the bonus contract.
  12. by   -jt
    <Or your hours get cut and you don't fulfill the hourly obligations of the bonus contract.>

    Is that one of the ways used to avoid paying the bonus? Are they purposely cutting those nurses hours, intentionally making it impossible for them to meet the hourly obligations? I think that if you agreed to work a certain number of hours and they agreed to pay you a bonus for that, they should live up to their end of the deal and make those hours available. If you are ready, willing, and able to work, but they choose to send you home, its not your fault and they should have to pay you anyway.
  13. by   caroladybelle
    No jt they do not "purposefully" cut hours, but if trends demonstrate that it typically slows in the summer and people get low censused, it is what happens.

    Just like several major retail chains hire whole gobs of employees while a new store is being set up, usually around a major holiday time. They get all these employees on full time (since benefits don't kick in for several monthes) to set up the store and work the busy holiday season. Then when the store is fully set up, and business is slow after the holidays, everyone's hours get cut back. After a while, many quit because they cannot afford to stay on at cut hours. So the company had the use of alot of employees, without having to ever pay benefits (which never kicked in) or the fees for temp agencies to supply the workers for setup.

    It is a rather common practice, unfortunately. And now, that medicine is being handled like retail, well I figure that it may happen more often.

    The other thing that I have seen, is deliberate overhiring of staff in units that are "attractive" and innovative, with good ratios and an excellent reputation. On shifts that are "overstaffed" on the good unit, nurses will keep getting floated to the "unit from hell" that can't acquire staff to save its life. When the choice is to get floated all the time to the Hell Unit and cut hours, many will choose cut hours. And since they "chose" the cut hours, they are no longer entitled to the bonus.

    There is a lot of "false advertising" out there in Nurseville.
  14. by   ainz
    I have found that many, many things in this life are negotiable. There is a company that offers courses in negotiating, his slogan is "you don't get what you deserve, you get what you can negotiate."

    In my experiences in interviewing and hiring people, some are excellent negotiators and ask for things like sign-on bonuses when they aren't being offered, ask for extra vacation time, continuing ed benefits, etc. Successful people will "sell" themselves and their skills and ask for something extra in return. They do not approach with the attitude of "please give me a job," they come in with the attitude of "I have some highly sought after skills and knowledge, I can bring things to your organization, here's what I want and here's what you will get in return." You will be surprised what you can get by taking this approach in a professional, confident, non-arrogant manner and by simply asking for things.

    What does this have to do with your initial post? Sign-on bonuses are just that. They are highly negotiable. Each person can and does negotiate their own package, there is no cutter-cutter deal most of the time unless the company/organization is very rigid or locked into something because of a bargaining or union arrangement.

    I think sign-on bonuses are nice. I always ask for one even if they aren't advertising them. I always ask for lots of stuff and get most of it. You get nothing if you don't ask. If you want a sign-on bonus, think of how you want it on your terms, ask for that, then negotiate from there until you get what you can live with. If you don't like the "strings" attached to a bonus, then don't take it, they will hire you without the bonus.

    Good luck with it.