Congratulations! You’ve been offered your next (or first!) assignment as a travel nurse. You know what that means – time to sign the contract. Typically, you will receive the contract from your recruiter within 24 hours of accepting the position.
Unfortunately, many nurses do not read their contract prior to signing it. While you might be starry-eyed in anticipation of your exciting new assignment, you’ve still got to take care of business by carefully reviewing your contract terms.
Not sure what to look for? Based on our experience, we’ve compiled a list of five major items you should know about your contract. This ensures you’re on the same page as the facility you’re joining, and confirms or refutes any assumptions you have. When in doubt, ask your recruiter!
- Guaranteed hours
All facilities have different verbiage in their contracts regarding how many hours they guarantee you. For example: You might assume you will be paid 36 hours per week (worked or not), but find in the contract that the facility is allowed to call you off three times per 13 week contract, and not pay you for those days. Be very clear on what they guarantee on hours.
- Pay breakdown
Pay breakdown includes several things to look for in your contract:
Receipt of first paycheck
You don’t want to be caught blindsided, and realize your paycheck is coming a week later than expected. Ask your recruiter for the exact date of your first paycheck.
The contract will also specify when you receive any reimbursements – things like state license reimbursement, travel money, etc. You could be in trouble if you expect these reimbursements on your first paycheck, only to find that your contract notes it will be on your last paycheck. Always know when reimbursement will be added to your paycheck.
Terms of bonus
If you are receiving any type of bonus, whether from Cirrus Medical Staffing or directly from the facility, the terms and conditions will be spelled out in your contract. CMS will make our bonus terms very clear to you throughout the process, but we have no control over bonuses offered directly by a facility. Therefore, if a facility bonus is declined for some reason, then CMS can do nothing about it. Know your bonus terms and conditions so that doesn’t happen.
Net pay vs. gross pay
When you’re quoted an hourly rate (gross pay), understand what your pay will truly be (net pay) come payday. This includes tax, insurance, child support or any other deductions you may have. You are the only person who can determine this, as your recruiter will have no knowledge of your government deduction amounts. It is very important that you know what to expect on your paycheck every week.
There is very little information in your actual contract about insurance – you are only asked to “accept” or “decline” it here. If you want the details, ask your recruiter to provide the breakdown on insurance.
It is very important that you understand how scheduling works under your new assignment. This information is not necessarily in the contract, and may not even be provided to your recruiter. Therefore, it is important to always ask how scheduling is handled at each new facility you work with.
- Time off
If you have accepted a travel assignment during the holiday season, make sure you know whether or not the facility pays travelers for holiday time. Remember, just because they offer paid holidays to their staff, does not mean they offer the same benefits to travelers.
As much as the contract is a legal document, it’s also about setting your expectations. Reading it guarantees you aren’t disappointed later in the assignment, and remain on the same page with your recruiter and the facility. And like we said: when in doubt, ask your recruiter!