Negotiating your Contract
An experienced travel nurse never assumes every contract is “standard.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A good contract lays it all out: Terms, bonuses, living arrangements, sick days…the things that will define your work and life for the next few months.
An experienced recruiter will help you hammer out the details, but never be afraid to speak up and try to amend the contract to get a better deal. Before you sign off on the changes, though, make sure the recruiter or company representative has the authority to make changes. Some potential changes and amendments may be part of the original contract; adjustments the company allows without question. Other things may not be clear, and this is where you need to ask the right questions and advocate on your own behalf.
Ask questions, lots of them.
- Some contracts mention tax advantages, and you need to know exactly what that means.
- Ask about the hourly obligation. How many hours/shifts are you expected to perform. If you get sick, what happens? Will you be allowed to work extra hours or off days to make up the hours? If not, will the missed days be added to the end of the contract? How will a missed day impact your bonus?
- What happens if the facility itself cancels a shift? Hospitals in a financial crunch may try to save money by reducing personnel. Make sure you know how many hours you are guaranteed.
- Make sure the start and end dates of the contract are clearly spelled out.
- What if the assignment is canceled after you arrive and settle in, but before you start work? Are your expenses reimbursed?
- The rate of pay should be clearly spelled out in the contract, including overtime, on-call rates, and bonuses (and bonus requirements).
- Determine the method of payment. Is it weekly? Direct deposit or payroll check?
- How will you track your hours? Does the facility have a time tracking system, or will you keep a time sheet? If so, does it need to be signed?
- If something is wrong with your pay, who do you contact to fix it?
Each contract may be vastly different. Before you sign:
- Make sure you know where you’re going to live. Google the neighborhood. Find out what the area is like, including available transportation, crime rate, amenities, weather, restaurants, and entertainment.
- How many bedrooms will your apartment have?
- Will you have to share?
- Can you bring your pet (if you have one)? If so, is there a pet deposit?
- How far is the hospital?
- What if you hate it? What are the relocation options?
This is a short list of questions…but you get the idea. You need to know where you’re going and what you’ll find when you get there. The travel nursing contract is the most important thing in your life. Make sure you know exactly what’s in it before signing on the dotted line, and keep a copy handy to