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Required to work for free?


Specializes in Pediatric Private Duty; Camp Nursing. Has 6 years experience.

I recently started at a peds home health agency (ATC) where I was told to report 15 min early to my assignment to allow time for report. Well, I did this, and when I submitted my hours, I submitted the time I arrived, of course. Now they are telling me they don't pay for this extra time, the hours are just the specific shift hours only. So I called, asking them to help me understand why I'm required to come in early, but not be paid for it. The office girl had no answer for me, so she put me on hold and the DON came on. She explained that it's just for report, I wouldn't be really working yet. I reminded her that if I was to give up an extra 15 minutes of my own personal time for the job, and required to be there in a professional capacity, I should be compensated for that time. She told me that it's the policy of their agency, but many nurses choose not to do it anyway. So I asked, "If I had to stay late to give report because a nurse does not come in early as she's required, does that mean I get paid for the extra time I stay?" Of course, that answer was "no". She even admitted it was not right, it was just their policy.

So my question to all of you is, is this the industry standard and I should suck it up, or am I getting shafted and should search out another agency?


Specializes in Home health. Has 22 years experience.

I think you should pose that question to your states labor board to see if your agency is in compliance. It's important for you to keep a log of all of your time for future reference. In my opinion, you should be paid for those 15 minutes.

This is an industry standard, but it is usually ten minutes, not fifteen and almost no nurses follow it. Most come on time or five or ten minutes late, causing their relief to leave late if the family isn't there to leave the patient in the care of.

tothepointeLVN, LVN

Specializes in Hospice / Ambulatory Clinic. Has 3 years experience.

I'm always 10-15 minutes early for report. I want a complete report not a pt is fine dash out the door situation. Often it means the outgoing nurse can leave on time or a little early. If I'm relieved by a member from my agency the favor is returned and I get to leave on time or early.

Usually the staff nurses are the ones that swan int at 10 minutes past.


Specializes in Home health. Has 22 years experience.

Cloudy Sue,

Here's a thread I found that's similar to what you're asking. I haven't read all responses , but many feel the same way as you do.

I know your DOL would be able to answer your question.

Arriving early and not clocking in - Nursing for Nurses

When I did private duty for an agency, I was only required to come in 5 min. early for report. And with only one patient, that really is all that is needed. The agency is only reimbursed for the time the nurse actually gives care so I can't imagine any agency paying for 15 min of report time several times a day.

I had a nurse who relieved me regularly for a 24/7 case I was on. She always came 10 to 15 min late. Since I worked 4 to 5 x/week, I was giving her an hour or more of my pay each week. So I talked to her and told her I was not going to tolerate it any longer and that I would sign out at the time I actually left. They meant if I signed out 15 min late, she had to sign in 15 min. late and she was the one who lost the pay, not me. It was amazing how quickly she was able to get there on time when I started doing that.



Specializes in LTC, Memory loss, PDN. Has 23 years experience.

I've worked for six different agencies in three different states and have never heard of such a thing (I guess I've had a sheltered life) :D. Report is an important part of continuity of care. It's part of the job. No agency wants to pay for the extra time, so prepare written reports and read the nurse notes. In actuality, most people get to work a few minutes early anyway (sheltered life again?) and the patients status is discussed.


Has 10 years experience.

The trend overall not to pay minimum wage for orientation, no evening or night shift differential, subnormal wages as in paying RNs LPN or tech wages, and the list is growing as the day rolls on are all things that I have been forced to endure. The hospital hiring freeze and outsourcing has forced me to take incredible abuse. Not only are we not paid for such things as you mention but not even paid when we have to stay longer to meet the unexpected needs of the client from an ethical point of view. The alternative is to be there for a paycheck and leave on the dot. My conscience can't deal with that type of nursing. I am in Christian missions, if you ask me, laying down my life for the sick as opposed to having a job. :nurse:


Specializes in Home health. Has 22 years experience.

I can't stress enough how important it is for us to make certain that these practices are legal rather than just blindly accepting them.

I worked for a home health agency in California where in many instances we did not get breaks or lunch due to extremely heavy work schedules even though that goes against the DOL requirements. It went on for a number of years until someone reported the practice to the DOL. After that, the DOL investigated the agencies records and found them in violation of California labor law and proceeded to give them a hefty fine. In addition, the agency had to give us back pay for all of the break and lunch times we didn't receive. It was a very expensive lesson for the agency and afterwards, they were extremely careful in making certain we had time for breaks/lunch.

Look to the dept of labor, fair labor standards act, fact sheet #22: (here's a portion of what it says)....

"Definition of "Employ"

By statutory definition the term "employ" includes "to suffer or permit to work." The workweek ordinarily includes all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place. "Workday", in general, means the period between the time on any particular day when such employee commences his/her "principal activity" and the time on that day at which he/she ceases such principal activity or activities. The workday may therefore be longer than the employee's scheduled shift, hours, tour of duty, or production line time.

Application of Principles

Employees "Suffered or Permitted" to work: Work not requested but suffered or permitted to be performed is work time that must be paid for by the employer. For example, an employee may voluntarily continue to work at the end of the shift to finish an assigned task or to correct errors. The reason is immaterial. The hours are work time and are compensable."


Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 34 years experience.

My current agency has no specific requirements regarding report, and most of the nurses arrive either on time or 5 minutes late. I don't mind staying over ten or 15 minutes if the nurse following me doesn't know the patient very well. We don't take specified meal breaks, although I probably could if I wanted to make an issue out of it. There's enough down time with one patient I really don't feel I'm being cheated out of anything.

One company had all of us sign a meal waiver, which I suspect is the company that was fined. When I first started I also had a nurse who was 15 minutes late every night. Since I was new I didn't make a big deal out of it. Now I wish I had, because all those 15 minutes added to a pretty large chunk of time I was working for this person in effect. Never again would I put up with it.

We have a spiral notebook for "report" if we're coming in following a caregiver or a caregiver is relieving us, but it's not used for that purpose very often.