I'm a charge nurse and it varies. Our budget is that the charge nurse is free on all shifts. A lot of times this doesn't happen at night if we are short, or if another unit is short, I'll take an assignment and let them pull a nurse. Quite often I'll start out free and then take admits.
We just went through a crunch where I had patients every night for several weeks and my boss was on my case out some chart reviews that I had to have done by the end of the month. I didn't do them. I can either take patients, which I prerfer, or I can do management paperwork, which I hate, but I'm not doing both. Patients first.
Once several years ago we were going to change the system. Have the charge take patients, and everyone do their own thing without a charge, but maybe a patient or two less in your assignment. We took a vote and everyone said they like the old way with a free charge, even if it meant having one or two more patients. Of course, you have to have a good hardworking charge nurse to have the staff feel that way.
Depends on the institution. If the expectations of the charge nurse take a lot of time time, then that charge should be free or have a lesser assignment.