Why am I being singled out and not offered extra shifts?

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Why am I being singled out and not offered extra shifts?

I work as a per diem in a department that I formerly worked full time and had been promoted to lead RN. I changed my status to per diem and had worked countless shifts without incident.

However, I choose to keep to myself and just work instead of socializing (I take my work seriously and it requires my full concentration). I've noticed for the last nearly 3 months I've not been asked to take a shift, but just noticed the other 3 per diems have worked several shifts over the last several months. I'd been told back when I was lead RN that every per diem has to be offered shifts if there is work available. Is this true, and if so, do I have legal recourse?

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,211 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Per Diem,

I am not a lawyer, but I can offer general information to help you understand the situation. 

In general, here are a few points to consider:

Per diem employees typically have a more flexible work arrangement than full-time or part-time employees.

The specifics of your employment agreement, including any terms related to the frequency of shift offers, should be outlined in your employment contract or the organization's policies- but it probably isn't.

Chances are that any additional work shifts are not included in your employment contract. However, if you are employed by a well-established company with clear policies, it may be included in their policy. Research the policies regarding extra shifts. 

It may be that informal guidance is given to charge nurses when it comes to both calling staff off or calling staff in. This should be followed.

Without a breach of contract or written policy, there may be no legal basis for making a complaint or lodging a violation.

I believe legal action should be considered as a last option due to the significant energy and effort required. There is also no guarantee that the desired outcome will be achieved.

However, employers need to treat all employees fairly and equally. If a charge nurse or scheduler gives extra shifts to some per diem nurses who are their friends, it is unfair and needs to be addressed promptly. Such actions can put the hospital at risk.

Talk to Your Supervisor

Schedule a talk with your supervisor if you believe you are being treated differently from other per diem employees without a valid reason.

"I am interested in picking up extra shifts" is a good start. The goal of the conversation with your supervisor is to find out why you are not being offered extra shifts like the other per diem nurses. 

Anti-Discrimination Laws. If the reason for not offering you shifts is related to a protected characteristic, such as race, gender, religion, or other factors covered by anti-discrimination laws, this could violate your rights.

Retaliation. If your change in shift offerings is a result of your decision to keep to yourself and not socialize, it could potentially raise concerns of retaliation or a hostile work environment, significantly if your work performance has not been affected.

Hopefully, simply talking to your supervisor will settle the problem. 

Consult an Attorney

As a last resort, and if you believe your rights are being violated,  consult an employment attorney specializing in your jurisdiction's employment laws. They can review your situation and guide you on whether you have legal recourse.

You need to gather relevant documentation, such as your employment contract, communication regarding shift offers, and performance evaluations, to support your case.

You can then determine the best course of action based on your circumstances and the laws in your jurisdiction.

It's also important to try to be more friendly with your coworkers, even if it is outside of your comfort zone. Remember that nursing is a team job; building solid relationships with your colleagues can significantly benefit everyone involved. 

Very best wishes,

Nurse Beth



6,656 Posts

Seems like the first step is to go to your manager and/or scheduler and ask what's up...

Generally per diems know a sort of routine for when new available shifts are going to be posted and are right on top of it. You have to get in there and make it known that you're hoping to pick up shifts. If any little thing has changed in the past 3 months (likely having nothing to do with you--example: the units base/core staffing has improved in the past 3 months so there are fewer shifts available for per diems) and you are the type of person who isn't a squeaky wheel asking where the open shifts are or asking to sign up for shifts, that's one way this situation happens. Undoubtedly some of those other per diems are squeaky wheels (cause that's often what getting shifts entails) and so....they got the shifts.

It's unclear why your first thought would be that you are being singled out. Maybe there is more info you didn't share.

Beyond that....making sure admin remembers/knows that you are expecting to work is part and parcel of working per diem....

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