Jump to content

Guaranteed Hours

Posted

Specializes in Medical-Surgical- Psych. Has 2 years experience.

Is it true that guaranteed hours are not offered very often?

Two recruiters I talked to said hospitals are not commonly offering guaranteed hours.

I wanted my recruiters to be able to guarantee that I get 36hours a week or at least 60hours in two weeks.

(They can call me off one in two weeks). One hospital contract with the agency states they can call me off one 12hr a week... My recruiter keeps telling me I shouldn't be worried but I am cause I've read these forums about shortened hours. And I want my full pay.

Am I expecting too much out of the contract and should I just take 1 call out a week?

Thanks!!

It is Banner hospitals in Arizona whose contract allows one call off per week. That is buyer beware for sure! That is not the case with most hospitals. In my experience, staff nurses get called off before travelers because we have a contract. That said, there are some bad hospitals here and there who do not honor their contract, and the agencies who place travelers there are bad actors too as they do not enforce the contract. Your contract states hours and shifts and that is what you can enforce ultimately in court, absent any call off language or "at-will" language in your contract or termination for cause.

It sounds like the major issue here is that you need to expand your agency choices until you find better ones.

Michi66

Has 2 years experience.

TNAA (Travel Nurse Across America) automatically offers low census pay (and probably other agencies as well). However, a nurse getting low censused is unheard of at my unit. Another agency I was talking to was willing to offer low census pay since I brought this point up about TNAA.

shortstuff52

Specializes in Medical-Surgical- Psych. Has 2 years experience.

Thanks for all the input!!

emb92250

Has 4 years experience.

I work for CC and all of my contracts (working on my third 13 week contract with them) have been guaranteed hours. I miss low census, lol. If you can't negotiate a guaranteed hours contract, maybe try asking the recruiter to move money around. Ask for a lower hourly wage, and a higher stipend. If you are called off, you still get your stipend for housing and food, but not the hourly wage. I had one contract where I was called off a lot of my shifts, but I still made $800/wk in stipends!

BigT

Specializes in ICU, Dialysis. Has 5+ years experience.

I work for CC and all of my contracts (working on my third 13 week contract with them) have been guaranteed hours. I miss low census, lol. If you can't negotiate a guaranteed hours contract, maybe try asking the recruiter to move money around. Ask for a lower hourly wage, and a higher stipend. If you are called off, you still get your stipend for housing and food, but not the hourly wage. I had one contract where I was called off a lot of my shifts, but I still made $800/wk in stipends!

Be careful about your stipends as a lot of contracts do prorate your stipend depending on hours worked. So if you are called off, with the proration in the contract, you will have your stipend lowered as well. Point is--read your contract carefully because no two are the same and you do not want to assume anything just because it was in your last contract. I got burned real bad on my first contract without any clause of guaranteed hours or call off clause- a couple of weeks in I was called off one whole week, 2 of 3 days another week and 2 of 3 the next week. After that and the last minute calls of asking me to pick up nights when I was working days, the day after working a day shift--I told them I was done. That lesson was costly in time and money but in the end I now learned what to ask and what was important to me.

I would say, before you sign on the dotted line, do the best you can to research that hospital and see how they treat their agency nurses and if you see an patterns of calling people off. I an relatively new to travel and I am on assignment # 6. I do see that it says I can be called off one shift per week, but I have yet to be called off. If their is low census, usually staff gets a call off first. I am not sure if you can negotiate no call offs in your contract, but you can certainly ask your recruiter about putting a clause in if you have X amount of call-offs in a certain time period, they will allow you out of the contract without penalty and help you find another job elsewhere. I am not sure if they would do that, but perhaps it will push your recruiter from placing you at a hospital where they have a high call-off pattern. You would hope your recruiter has your best interest at heart. If not, find another company. Best of luck.

shortstuff52

Specializes in Medical-Surgical- Psych. Has 2 years experience.

Thanks! I understand. My current contract states I can be called off one shift per two weeks. I just ended my contact and they cancelled me my last shift without letting me know- supposedly the night supervisor said I should get paid 4 hrs because I came into work and then cancelled me. So hopefully I'll get paid. But is states in my contract that first and last week are prorated. So I'm a bit screwed in a sense I only worked 12+12+4=28hrs- so my housing and m&i will probably be deducted as well. Sucks! Stupid. But whatever.

I am definitely looking for guaranteed hours and at least a 60hr work week for two weeks. Hope my recruiter can find that and write it on the contract!

I have never had my stipend or per diems lowered for being cancelled. As long as the hospital states it was low census you should only lose the hourly (unless you have guaranteed hours). Once, I was called off an entire week, No joke. I still received all my stipend and per diems because I upheld MY end of the contract.

Your recruiter should give you some type of cancellation form. Bring it to your charge nurse and have her fill it out, and send it in yourself. Then you should be covered.

This thread brings up a number of contract issues. The first is that if your contract states your contracted hours without a call off policy, those hours are guaranteed. A contract is an agreement (the two words are synonyms) and that is what both parties, the agency and traveler have agreed to in writing and signed (the work "guarantee" is superfluous in a contract). If you do not get your hours through no fault of your own, you can sue your agency to get paid for the balance of your contract.

If there is a call off policy, you are bound to those terms as well. Banner is the classic case with one call off allowed per pay period. This has evolved from one call off every two weeks which used to be the standard pay period (and still is for Banner employees) to an understanding that a pay period is weekly. This can result for 12 hour travelers (which are most travelers) getting only 24 hours a week. In the past, certain Banner hospitals called off travelers every pay period like clockwork. This allowed them to have a pool of travelers available for high census swings, yet not pay them in full unless that happened. Egregious strategy to be sure.

Call off policies should be examined by travelers and recruiters and interviewing managers questioned carefully for actual practices by the hospital or the unit. The plus to such policies is that it indicates the hospital will abide by them, versus the unknown if a call off policy is not specified. I love it when I see a 30 day notice required for termination. Some hospitals fire travelers without regard to their own contract and agencies seldom enforce hospital contracts for fear of losing their client - which is why they include "at-will" language in traveler contracts to protect themselves from bad hospitals - see more below.

Most travel contracts have either specific missed hour penalties which are fair (if based on real costs such as housing), or unspecified damages (such contracts should be modified or the agency involved should be avoided). Per diems and housing may will pay through, but those amounts paid to a traveler that do not have associated billable hours are "clawed back" through these penalties. No free lunch!

There is a poison pill in a lot of agency contracts. "At will" employment means both the traveler and the agency are free to terminate a relationship at any time without notice. For ordinary employees, this is the law of the land in every state. But for contract employees such as travelers, that is not true unless the contract contains such language. It is very dangerous to accept such contracts as it is likely that the missed hour penalties are still enforceable ("liquidated damages") and yet the traveler is terminated without recourse to enforcing payment of the remaining contracted hours.

It is important to know what is in the contract and what can happen in the worst case scenario. This is how the worst case scenario goes: You arrive at an assignment and work two weeks. You are terminated for low census and to recover costs per your contract, the agency doesn't pay you the last week of work, and reverses the direct deposit for the first week. They give you 24 hours to move out of your apartment. You are homeless and your credit cards are cancelled because the payments bounced. No gas to get anywhere, and you started traveling without savings.

This actually does happen but it is a rare perfect storm. About one out of ten assignments fail to complete (industrywide average). You can take positive steps to increase your own completion rate, but the risk is there. Reducing contractual risks and asking appropriate questions about hospital and agency behavior is easy to do before assignments start.

OK, so that is a lot of scary talk. Sorry about that. The upside is that the large percentage of contracts finish successfully, no matter how bad the contract language is. Also, if the worst happens, agencies can bluster and threaten, but court cases are very rare. Just too costly with too little return - travelers are hard to track down to appear in court. State labor boards can offer some protection, especially to helping get your last check, if both a contract terminates and an agency acts badly.

jodyangel, RN

Specializes in L&D.

So...if there is No "we can call you off this much " in MY contract....am I held to the contract between the hospital and the travel company? I mean I didn't sign that contract so I'm not sure how I could be?

jodyangel, RN

Specializes in L&D.

NedRN...so when you say this....

"...The first is that if your contract states your contracted hours without a call off policy, those hours are guaranteed. A contract is an agreement (the two words are synonyms) and that is what both parties, the agency and traveler have agreed to in writing and signed (the work "guarantee" is superfluous in a contract). If you do not get your hours through no fault of your own, you can sue your agency to get paid for the balance of your contract."

So...if lets say your contract does Not state any allowance for calling off...and you are called off often, you would have to sue your company to receive the pay for hours missed?

oh and what is the difference between the wording of "calling off" and "on call". I aske because when they put you on call you get paid $2/ hr. That's a far cry from your full wages and unacceptable. Why bother paying this small payment?

You probably would have to sue for shifts called off. But it costs nothing to ask the agency to pay you per the contract. It wasn't your fault that the hours were not billed, that is up to the agency. If they didn't reflect the hospital contract language in your contract, that is their bad, not yours.

Getting called off means you don't work scheduled hours. Going home on call means you have to come in if called. Often that is an option for staff (and travelers) to do on a voluntary basis, and happens involuntarily as well. You get paid call pay for those hours at whatever rate, but usually that pay stops if you get called back in. You should get time and a half if you are called back in for those hours you work.

You are best off working for honest recruiters who can tell you how it works, honest agencies that put stuff in writing, honest hospitals that hire travelers to work, not just hang around for free in case the census goes up. No point in working with a recruiter or agency who is dishonest again, but not much you can do about the hospital. If getting hours is important to you, discuss it in the interview with the manager and hope she is being straight with you. You might want to consider rapid response assignments, especially if you like overtime. You shouldn't miss hours on those, and be glad for time off instead!

jodyangel, RN

Specializes in L&D.

Ned I'm not shooting myself in the foot to be put on call vs called off am I? They want me On call in case things pick up. I work OB which is typically very busy or very slow lol.

I'm not sure. I have heard of agencies claiming that you didn't miss any hours because you were on call. That is quite a load! But if you are talking about personal time, yes, you can't go out drinking on call, or get farther than 30 minutes away (whatever their policy is). For OR nurses who spend quite a bit of their life on call, it is not worth it. That even applies in the San Francisco Bay area where staff call pay is half regular pay. Can you imagine getting paid $30 an hour to carry the pager? Well, it gets old after 20 years or so.

Bluebolt

Has 6 years experience.

I only sign contracts with a guarantee of 48 hours a week. Although I did run into one company that had a loophole I wasn't aware of where they could call you off twice during your 13 week contract. This was hidden in fine print and not openly discussed with the recruiter. Although when you work 48 hours weekly even if they call you off twice you will just have two weeks of your contract that don't have overtime pay. Because you still meet your full time hour requirements you get the same stipend amount. Problem solved.

jodyangel, RN

Specializes in L&D.

Well My on call rate is $2/hr.

That would be quite deceptive if they called those "working hours"

Jensmom7, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 36 years experience.

I only sign contracts with a guarantee of 48 hours a week. Although I did run into one company that had a loophole I wasn't aware of where they could call you off twice during your 13 week contract. This was hidden in fine print and not openly discussed with the recruiter. Although when you work 48 hours weekly even if they call you off twice you will just have two weeks of your contract that don't have overtime pay. Because you still meet your full time hour requirements you get the same stipend amount. Problem solved.

And this is one reason, when I still worked in a hospital, that we loathed contracted agency nurses. They got their hours at the expense of the nurses who were hourly employees of the hospital and lost pay due to being called off for low census.