When the hospital cancels you for a shift...

Nurses General Nursing


  • by NanikRN
    Specializes in Oncology, Rehab, Public Health, Med Surg.

You are reading page 4 of When the hospital cancels you for a shift...


4,124 Posts

We've recently switched to that being policy. We used to be "on call" and had to be available all shift for them for the high price to them of $2/hr. They decided that was too much money for them to spend, so now we're on "stand by" and have to be available all shift for them for no money at all. It gives them absolutely NO INCENTIVE to plan responsibly. And apparently since they changed the name from "on call" to "stand by" they seem to think their staff is stupid enough to think this is completely different. But nurses are a dime a dozen these days, so we pretty much have to put up with whatever policy they come up with.

According to employment laws, it's iffy as to legality, but who wants to be the one that pushes the issue and all of the sudden have a ton of written warnings in their file and get fired?

Airline hostesses, certain physicans and others in various careers/professions have been put "on call" or "reserve" by their employers as part of standard practice for years. Therefore it is no unreasonable to assume there are some sort of laws or rules in place regarding the policy.


43 Posts

In my experience, that is how call is done: You are cancelled for the first 8 and on call for the last 4 hours of what was your scheduled shift. There is no financial compensation unless you use your ETO. You are also given a choice as well: you do not have to accept the cancellation. If you answer no, the charge nurse calls another nurse on a list that they go by. The nurses that I used to work with called the charge nurse the Cancel Fairy, a warm term of endearment. Many people, including myself, enjoyed getting those calls. I had ETO to burn so I would just substitute those for my hours. Sad to say: with two little ones, I have not been out of town on a real vacay in like 6 years! I am overdue, I know! Anyway, I hope that this helps!


1,530 Posts

At my last hospital, this was a weekly/bi-weekly occurrance. We would be paid $2/hr for being placed on stand-by. Once on stand-by, you could be called in at ANY point during the shift. This seriously sucked because I worked nights. When you didn't end up going in (which was most of the time), you either went for the $2/hr or used PTO.

At my current hospital, census is NEVER low! :) Sometimes a "bid-shifter" might be sent home @ 11P and his/her patients split among the rest of the staff, but I have never seen a regularly scheduled nurse called off. There have been times where our "extra nurse" (the bid-shifter) is floated to another floor.

I am looking forward to being able to bid shift off my floor (you have to be with the hospital 6 mo to do this). Many of our nurses get 48 - 60/hr per week. In doing so, (like one nurse I chatted with) they have paid off all consumer debt! This same nurse, after paying off her consumer debt is now paying off her mortgage early so that she is completely debt free when she retires!

BTW, this is at a not-for-profit religious hospital in a major city. We also have a 1-4 or 5 ratio on nights! (once in a blue moon, it might be 1:6 if a nurse called out and we couldn't replace the nurse...)

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 7,907 Posts

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

Thankfully, neither of my facilities does "on call": I'm cancelled or I'm not cancelled, there is no "you're cancelled but we may call you later, so you have to stand by". Sometimes after canceling, they may call me later to ask if I can still come in since they ended up too short, but I'm not obligated in any way.

Also, in both facilities if I'm cancelled less than two hours before the shift start time, they owe me at least 2 hours' pay. So if they want to cancel me for 7a, they have to contact me by 5a the latest or they have to pay me for two hours. They can have me come in to work for those two hours if they want, but they have to pay it to me regardless.


153 Posts

So far, we've avoided serious low census this year, but last year, during the slump, if 9 nurses would be scheduled, 5 or sometimes 6 would be on call. Short of a mass casualty

situation... really? You are really going to keep 6 of us on the hook all night? Really? Our policy has no limit on how many on-call shifts we might have per pay period. We're on call for the first eight hours of the shift. After that, we don't have to answer the phone.

As I said, it hasn't been an issue lately. But it reeks to have your PTO sucked up that way. Some of us would have had a shot at picking up some agency work if they hadn't been on call.

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

2,066 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC.

When I worked per diem this was sometimes an issue. The hospital would call me off for low census, then if they suddenly started getting slammed with admissions they would want me to come in on short notice. I was not on call and they weren't paying me to hang by the phone. I always told them that since they called me off, I had made another commitment. I never had any pushback from it, and they never reduced my hours.


277 Posts

Specializes in Emergency.

My hospital has either a stand-by or cancel option for when census is low.

Being cancelled means you're totally off. Stand-by means they can call you at any time up until 3 am/pm (depending on your shift) if they need you... even 30 minutes after they put you on stand-by. If called in, you have to be given at least 4 hours of work. And we get on-call pay... I think it's something like $4.50/hr.

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

2,066 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC.

One good thing came of a call-off once. I was called off for my hospital shift, so I went to dinner with my family. While we were waiting for a table I sat down with $5 in front of a slot machine (since that is an option here) and played a little to kill time. I won $250, which was more than I would have made for my shift at the hospital - and since it was below the $1,200 threshhold for filling out an IRS form for winnings, it was also tax free. My nurse manager called to apologize, saying that I should not have been called off. I told her it was fine, because I came out ahead anyway.


11 Posts

At our hospital, they use the term "flex" when they cancel someone. You are "flexed off" for the first 4 hours if they think they may need you later, the whole shift if several people are being cancelled. So, if you start at 7 and they do not call you by 11, you are free for the rest of the day. You do not receive any compensation, unless you use your PTO. It rarely happens, they are much more likely to call you every morning to see if you can come in extra than they are to cancel your shift.

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