Signing a contract for a length of employment commitment?

  1. hi friends!

    I just finished school, passed my boards, and got my first job offer. Yay! The only thing is they want me to sign a "contract" that says I promise to work for the facility for 2 years. All it says is pretty much that. I wanted to know if anyone had experience with this? what happens if I found a better job and broke the contract? 2 years is a long time for a new graduate just learning what they enjoy.

    Thank you!
  2. Visit cherubhipster profile page

    About cherubhipster

    Joined: Nov '07; Posts: 197; Likes: 56
    from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in psych, ltc, case management


  3. by   MJB2010
    Before accepting the position, you need to find out what the penalty is for breaking the contract and how many hours it takes to fulfill the contract. Some let you go part time but it extends the contract. Usually it is costly, a few thousand dollars if you wish to break it and it would also be burning bridges and leaving you with a bad reference. I would also suggest making sure you actually want to work there for the full two years, if it seems like something you cannot commit to, you might want to look elsewhere. Training new grads is expensive, so they make you sign a contract to ensure their training money will be well spent. But HR should be able to answer all of the questions for you. Make sure they are answered and you FULLY understand before you sign that contract.
  4. by   himilayaneyes
    i actually had to sign a two year work contract to a facility for the cardiac telemetry program to which i have one month left. this particular hospital won't let you go part time and extend the contract. the penalty for breaking the contract is $5000. however, the staff are great and i don't regret my decision to sign the contract. i would suggest talking to the some of the staff to see how they like the hospital, find out the penalty for breaking the contract, and how long you would be required to work for whatever unit you're signing the contact for. at my hospital, it was a two year contract to the hospital, but only one of those years had to be on tele. just keep in mind, seems like in this economy with it being harder for nurses to find might not be such a bad idea to sign a's still experience. good luck to you.
  5. by   cherubhipster
    thank you! I'll give some more info too.. the facility is a ltc/sub acute place. Also, the job is union, I don't know if that matters. It literally just says "I agree to work for 2 years". I am apprehensive about asking what happens if I break it because the HR told me they are only hiring me because they like me and see potential, and they dont really -need- extra nurses right now. They only want me to take the job if I am "really sure" I can commit. Said they had too many new grads work there for a years experience and go to a hospital for the money, that's why they made the contract. I am afraid if I ask what happens they will take that as I am indeed NOT committed to the full 2 years, and will withdraw their offer.
    The economy is awful, thus why I am considering taking the job despite a few things going against it... and new grads have a really hard time. I know people who have been otu of school for months and months with nothing...
  6. by   netglow
    IMHO, if they are willing to offer the same salary and benefits and opportunity for career advancement as the hospitals do, only then would I consider signing a contract.

    Remember, if your real goal is to work in a hospital, signing a LTC contract is ridiculous. This LTC most likely will not bring you an instant WOW from nurse recruiters once you put it on your resume and start looking for that hospital job in 2 years. Gotta get something for indentured servitude, at least something good to put on your resume.
  7. by   JB2007
    Do not let them bully you into signing anything!! You have to know exactly what you are getting into when you sign a contract period end of story. Things change in a person's life and there are times when you have to move on whether you want to or not. If that happens you have to know what will happen if you break the contract. LTC facilities typically do not have as much money invested in a new nurse as a hospital does, so they have no reason to have you sign your life away.

    Something tells me that they are taking advantage of the poor economy and the poor new nurses who will do most anything to land a job. Speeking as a nurse who landed in a not so good situation 3 years ago and I am just now getting a chance to get out of it be careful about signing anything. They do not hire someone "just because they like you". They hire you because they have a position to fill and you are a warm lincensed body to fill that slot.

    Good luck and be careful.
  8. by   mikeicurn
    That doesn't sound like a real employment contract to me. In my experience when a company hires you, and trains you, and you agree to work for a certain amount of time, that is all spelled out in the contract. Basically what the contract says is "we are providing you this training that costs X amount of dollars, if you work for us for a specified time period, we will absorb the cost of the training, if you leave before the time period is up, then you owe us the X amount of dollars we spent in training you". This is done all the time in the trucking industry. Companies hire people with no experience driving trucks, train them, and they agree to work for a certain period of time, but all that is laid out in the contract. If you really want the job, ask them for a copy of the contract so you can have an attorney review it, then you will know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
  9. by   dthfytr
    I'm always cynical of contracts and bonuses. You're promising them 2 years. What are they promising you in return? Jobs and contracts are 2 seperate issues. If they want you to sign a contract, they should be giving you something in return.
  10. by   elkpark
    Quote from dthfytr
    I'm always cynical of contracts and bonuses. You're promising them 2 years. What are they promising you in return? Jobs and contracts are 2 seperate issues. If they want you to sign a contract, they should be giving you something in return.
    Jobs and contracts are not necessarily "separate issues." Lots of types of employment involve contracts (lots of teaching jobs, including many nursing faculty positions, typically involve contracts), and don't offer anything special/additional beyond the employment.

    While I agree that I would be v. reluctant to sign a contract committing me to a particular facility for a specific minimum amount of time, I can also sympathize with employers who feel that they are tired of getting screwed over by people who take a job and then leave after a short period of time. And, reportedly, new grads have been doing more of this in recent years than ever before. I can recall when the standard length of time with a single employer to avoid the "jobhopper" label was at least two years -- now, people think a single year is plenty and a surprising (to me, at least ) number of people post here about going through three or four jobs in their first year or so of nursing. (My current employer has hired four new grads within the last year, and three of them are already gone ...) Employers are tired of paying the extra expense of orienting new grads just to have them leave, and more and more healthcare facilities are either asking new grads to sign contracts or simply declining to hire new grads. Which do you prefer?? (Being asked to sign a contract, or just not being considered for employment, period, because you're a new grad?) This was starting to happen even before the economy tanked, although the bad economy has made the situation worse. These days, it's definitely a "buyer's market" in nursing employment and employers can pretty much set whatever conditions and requirements they like (as long as they're not violating federal or state employment law) -- and I doubt things are going to get better any time soon.

    I do agree that it's perfectly reasonable to inquire about the specific consequences/penalties of breaking the contract and getting all the details in writing before making a decision about signing. That is just basic common sense.
  11. by   Sun0408
    I would be very cautious about signing a contract with a LTC facility without knowing the details FIRST. I would ask what is expected of me, my duties, the number of pts I will be responsible for etc.. I know LTC is not for everyone and the work load can be too much for a new grad to handle. They may expect more than you can handle at this time. If nothing is spelled out I would be leery. 2 years is a long time if you find the place below standards and you at risk.. Just my thoughts.. Can you shadow someone for a week before signing?
  12. by   casper1
    Did you recieve a sign on bonus or did the facility pay for your education. I don't understand why they feel they have the right to ask you to remain employed at their facility two years.

    Does this contract also state that you can not be layed off. Does it guarantee you a job for two years. If they break the terms of the contract are they obligated to pay you
  13. by   shiccy
    I'm going to be brutally honest I would literally sit in that chair and go over the rest of the paperwork they're having you sign and read it until you understand what it's saying. Saying, "You agree to work for two years" is *not* an iron clad agreement. Honestly, if this were taken up in court, it most likely would be thrown out on basis that it is not a finite clause. There's nothing that says what would happen if this agreement were not fulfilled.

    I do have two things to add to the situation, however. The first is that in all honesty, two years is NOT a ton of time. That's child's play in terms of commitment. If you're having trouble elsewhere finding a job TAKE it. I don't know about your market, but mine isn't the greatest. Take the job and run with it!

    That said, you ALWAYS have the ability to negotiate this requirement. When I signed up recently to transfer to one of our ICU's I was asked, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" I answered honestly, "Living in (city) and working in SICU, hopefully!" It's not a lie, but if something stupendous comes up later down the road in a year or three, I'll not think twice about jumping ship. This being said, you cannot plan for things that far in advance. That's like looking into your crystal ball and telling the future. I suggest putting it to them in this way, "I love LTC / Rehab, and this is where I want to stay for the long haul. I really love (insert place) and I really want to work for this company. The only thing holding me back from sitting down here and signing anything you put in front of me is that I am concerned about the "contract" that you're having me sign. I'm more than likely going to be here for 5+ years, but as far as putting that in writing, I'm going to have to decline signing that paper." Please note that this can mean that they'll rip the position out from under your feet. That said, though, there's also the possibility they will say, "We understand, we want you anyways," and rip the paper up right in front of you.

    To say "they don't need you, but they're hiring you b/c they see potential" is a load of crock, btw. LTC is looked down upon by many nurses when they get out of school b/c of the stigma. New nurses will avoid LTC's at all costs.

    This company is just trying to butter you up by making it sound like they are giving you a break out of the kindness of their hearts ... They're definitely not. LTC and hospitals alike don't hire people unless they need them, plain and simple. LTC is exceptionally important in the grand scheme of things, and you guys have a ton of hard work that you do.
    Last edit by shiccy on Jul 29, '10 : Reason: Clarification
  14. by   Leelee2
    If you break this contract after signing it, you would be in "breach of contract" Not good. I would be wondering why this facility is asking for a signed commitment in the first place? Have they experienced a high turn-over rate with nurses? If so, Why? Personally, as a new grad, I wouldn't be signing a 2 year commitment letter. Lots of things can change in two years, I'd want to keep my options open. Maybe you could ask to shadow a nurse currently working there, for a day or two, that should give you a good vibe on how the overall work environment is.