Your travel nursing contract is a very important document. It establishes the contractual obligations between you and the travel nursing agency. It also serves as an important tax document that verifies the temporary nature of your employment and tax-free reimbursements. In this article, we’ll provide a checklist of everything that should, or could, be in your travel nursing contract so you can approach the document with confidence.
What’s Included On The Travel Nursing Contract Checklist?
It’s important to provide a little background before we dive into the list. To begin with, this is a list of items that should or could be in a contract. To clarify, some of the items on the list should be included in every contract. The presence of other items on the list will depend on the travel nurse, the agency and the particular circumstances of each contract.
That said, some agencies may disagree with our assessment here. This means that some agencies may not include some of the items on this checklist in their contracts. This does not mean they are bad agencies. They may have legitimate reasons. Ultimately, it’s up to the travel nurse to decide whether or not they are comfortable with a contract’s terms.
Additionally, it’s important to note that we’re not recommending or advocating that travel nursing contracts include all of these items. Instead, our goal is to provide a comprehensive list of items that can make their way onto a travel nursing contract. Therefore, the list includes common items designed to protect the agency’s interests as well as the travel nurse’s interests.
Experienced travel nurses frown upon some of these items. You may attempt to negotiate such items out of your travel nursing contract. Either way, we are including such items on the list so that travel nurses can prepare in advance. We’ll do our best to identify the different types of items throughout the list.
Know How To Evaluate Travel Nursing Pay Packages
Next, it’s imperative to understand how to evaluate and compare travel nursing pay packages. Specifically, you must tally the value of every compensation related variable in order to accurately compare pay packages.
Why is this important to remember when we’re discussing a checklist for travel nursing contracts? Well, the checklist includes many compensation and reimbursement variables. Therefore, it’s important to remember that one contract is not better than another simply because it has an additional compensation related variable included in it.
For example, let’s say you’re comparing offers from two different agencies for the same assignment. Let’s also say that the hospital in question has a monthly parking fee of $300. Now let’s say that Agency A is offering to reimburse the fee while Agency B is not. This factor alone is not enough to assume that Agency A’s contract is better. Perhaps Agency B is paying an additional $4 per hour, or they’re offering other incentives that are far more valuable than the $300 monthly parking reimbursement.
Please review the video below to discover how to evaluate and compare travel nursing pay packages.
How Does The “Confirmation” Relate To The Travel Nursing Contract?
Next, it’s important to understand that the contracts signed by travel nurses govern the relationships between travel nurses and travel nursing companies. There is a separate contract that governs the relationship between the hospital and the agency. By extension, the contract between the agency and the hospital can affect the travel nurse.
This is a very important distinction. You see, the hospital is only bound by the agreement they have with the agency. And, as we all know, the travel nurse and the hospital can make additional agreements during the job interview. For example, the two parties might agree to specific days off during the contract, rules regarding floating, or any number of other additional agreements.
How can we hold the hospital to account for these additional agreements? After all, the hospital is not going to sign the actual travel nursing contract. This is where the “Confirmation” comes into play.
The Confirmation is a document the agency sends to the hospital after a travel nurse accepts an offer. The Confirmation is essentially an addendum to the contract between the hospital and the agency. It confirms that the travel nurse is accepting the offer under the conditions outlined in the confirmation.
Standard Contents Of The Confirmation
The content of the confirmation can vary from company to company or from hospital to hospital. Some common items included on Confirmations are:
- The agency’s name
- The hospital’s name
- The hospital’s location
- The travel nurse’s name
- The travel nurse’s license number
- The travel nurse’s social security number
- The travel nurse’s date of birth
- The start date
- The end date
- The unit
- The shift
- The number of shifts per week
- Any additional agreements made between the travel nurse and the interviewer during the interview
- Signature of the agency’s designated representative
- Signature of the hospital’s designated representative
Holding The Hospital Accountable
The important thing to remember here is that the Confirmation is what holds the hospital accountable for the additional agreements made between the travel nurse and the interviewer during the interview. Therefore, it’s imperative for travel nurses to convey these agreements to their recruiters as soon as the interview is complete. This way, the recruiter can have the agreements added to the confirmation so they’re ready to go when the offer comes through.
Our ultimate goal is to avoid a scenario in which the contract between the agency and the travel nurse includes the agreements, but the contract (Confirmation) between the hospital and the agency does not include the agreements. As a travel nurse, you can find yourself in a very sticky situation when this happens.
Travel Nursing Contract Items Vary
It’s also important to note that different agencies will describe items in different ways. For example, one agency might describe the shift by labeling the “Start Time” and “End Time” separately. Another agency might simply label it as “Shift: 7a – 7p”. Therefore, our checklist here is intended only as a guide.
The Use Of Employee Handbooks For Some Travel Nursing Contract Items
Finally, many companies use an “Employee Handbook” to handle many of these issues. They prefer to keep their contracts short and sweet. If this is the case, then you should make sure that the handbook is a legally binding contract. For example, both parties might sign the handbook, essentially making it a contract. Or, the contract might refer to the handbook as a document that both parties agree to abide by.
With all of this in mind, let’s run through the travel nursing contract checklist.
Neutral Items That Should Be Included on Travel Nursing Contracts
- Agency name
- Agency location
- Agency contact telephone number
- Hospital name
- Hospital location
- Travel nurse’s name
- Travel nurse’s permanent address
- Start date
- End date
- Shift starting time
- Shift ending time
- Number of shifts per week
- Number of contracted regular hours
- Number of contracted overtime hours: This comes into play when there are 12 hour shifts in a state that requires overtime to be paid after 8 hours in a day.
- Pay period: Weekly, Biweekly?
- Time-sheet reporting requirements
- Taxable base rate for contracted regular hours
- Taxable base rate for contracted overtime hours
- Meals & Incidental Expenditure reimbursement rate: This is often referred to as the “stipend”. The contract should quote it as a weekly amount. However, some companies will quote it per hour. Check out this article for more information on M&IE reimbursements.
- Lodging reimbursement rate: If you choose to take the lodging stipend, then the contract must include it. It’s typically quoted as a monthly reimbursement. However, it should be distributed incrementally per pay period. Therefore, some companies will quote it by the week or the hour. See below for items to include if you are taking company provided housing. Discover more about lodging reimbursements in this article.
- Travel reimbursement: The contract should include the amount of the stipend and all terms for how it will be paid. It’s typically half on the first paycheck and half on the last pay check. Review this article for more information on travel reimbursements.
- Medical benefits: If you’re receiving company provided medical benefits, then the contract should indicate such. It should also include the date of activation and details regarding the cost, if any, to you. This article contains detailed information about medical benefits for travel nurses.
- How often payroll is processed.
- On-call details: If the contract requires the travel to be on-call, then the contract should stipulate the “On-Call Rate” and “Call-Back Rate”.
- Guaranteed hours: Different agencies handle guaranteed hours in different ways. However, it should always be included on the contract. See this article for more information on travel nursing guaranteed hours.
Housing Related Items That May Be In A Travel Nursing Contract
If you take company provided housing, then these items should or could be included in the travel nursing contract. Again, not all of them are necessary. Many of these items are simply things for you to consider.
- Check-in and check-out dates
- The type of housing the agency will provide. For example, will it be a one-bedroom apartment, Extended Stay or other type of housing?
- If it’s a vacation home or condo, is there a yard and if so is yard maintenance included in the cost?
- Is the lodging furnished? What furnishings are included? What size is the bed?
- Are house wares included? House wares typically include pots, pans, linens, towels, silverware, a coffee maker, and a toaster. However, it’s best to determine what specifically is included.
- Is there a microwave? You’d be surprised. Many apartments have not yet been fitted with a microwave.
- Is a cleaning package included? Cleaning packages typically include a broom, dust pan, and mop. They may or may not include a vacuum cleaner.
- Is a TV included? If you care about TV, you’ll want to find out what size the TV will be. Most standard furnishing packages include a 26 inch TV. If you want to hook electronics to the TV such as a computer to watch Netflix, or a game console, then you should make sure that the TV has applicable hook ups.
- How are the utilities, cable, and other bills handled? Some agencies put everything in their name and the traveler doesn’t have to do anything. Some agencies require that nurses put the utilities in their own name and then the agency provides a fixed amount per month as a utility reimbursement.
- What’s the parking situation? Parking costs extra in many urban areas. Moreover, there are many different options including parking garages, open parking lots, assigned parking spaces, covered parking and street parking. If this is important to you, then you’ll want to know.
- If you have pets, then what’s the deposit and who’s responsible for it, or any additional “pet rent” costs?
- Are a washer and dryer in the unit, or is there a laundry facility on site? Sometimes there are hookups for the washer and dryer in the unit, but the property charges extra to supply them, or expects you to bring or rent your own.
Items Intended to Protect Agency Interests on Travel Nursing Contracts
- Missed hours penalty: Most agencies institute penalties for “missed hours”. Missed hours occur when the travel nurse calls off.
- Cancelled hours penalty: Some agencies levy penalties when the hospital cancels a shift on the traveler. Of course, this is tied to the Guaranteed Hours policy in a way. You can discover more about Missed Hours and Cancelled Hours penalties in this article.
- Cancellation Clause/Penalty: Most travel nursing contracts include a financial penalty for the travel nurse if the travel nurse cancels the contract. Discover more about contract cancellations in this article.
- Non-Compete Clause: These clauses come in two forms. First, they might prohibit the travel nurse from working with another agency at the same hospital for a period of time. Second, they might restrict the travel nurse from accepting a permanent job at the facility for some period of time. Many companies are abandoning them. Discover more about non-compete clauses in this article.
Additional Agency/Traveler Items That May Be On The Travel Nursing Contract
In this section, we’ll cover some additional issues that are pertinent to the relationship between the travel nurse and the agency. The hospital is not involved with these items. Additionally, the contract may or may not include these items. It all depends on the agency and/or the traveler’s unique circumstances.
- 401(K) vesting period and company match: Discover more about 401Ks in this article.
- Paid time off: Discover more about Paid Time Off and Vacation time in this article.
- Paid sick leave: Learn about California’s paid sick leave law.
- License and certification reimbursements: Discover more about travel nursing license and certification reimbursements in this article.
- Clinical record costs: We’re referring to things like MMRs, PPDs, etc. Discover more about credentialing costs in this article.
- Cancellation clause to protect the travel nurse: Here we are referring to a clause that covers the traveler in case the facility cancels the contract without cause. These clauses are VERY rare. However, many agency/hospital contracts include a clause that allows the agency to bill the hospital 1 to 2 weeks of time if the hospital cancels the contract without cause. Some agencies use a portion of this money to provide some level of compensation for their travelers.
- Extra time: This is a special rate that is paid when the travel nurse works more than the contracted number of hours. Read this article to discover more about extra-time.
- Pay for pre-start paperwork: Many hospitals require travel nurses to complete large amounts of paperwork and training modules prior to starting. Sometimes, agencies offer to pay for these hours. Discover more in this article.
- Orientation week pay: Hospitals often schedule fewer hours during orientation week than the contract calls for. Of course, this can have in impact on your pay for that week. Here again, it’s going to depend on the guaranteed hours clause in the contract. See this article for more information on orientation hours and pay.
Travel Nursing Contract Items To Discuss With The Hospital And Provide to Recruiter
In this section, we’ll cover items that you should discuss with the hospital during the interview. You may or may not wish to address these items depending on your unique circumstances. However, if you make agreements with the hospital pertaining to these issues, then you must share them with your recruiter.
It’s important to note that this is not a list of ALL the questions you might want to ask during your interview with the hospital. Instead, it’s a list of issues that you might want to have included in the contract. We highly recommend reviewing this article for a complete list of questions to ask during your travel nursing interview.
Finally, it’s important to note that many hospitals are now using computerized interviewing systems and/or third-party interviewers to conduct their travel nursing interviews. In such cases, you may not have the opportunity to address these contract related issues. If that’s the case, then you will need to address them with your recruiter. Your recruiter will attempt to get answers directly from the hospital.
- Requested time off
- What’s the float policy and what units will I be expected to float to? You may want to ensure that the contract indicates exactly what units you are able and willing to float to.
- What’s the nurse to patient ratio on the unit? (Epstein Larue of com recommends that travelers have a clause added to their contracts that stipulates the nurse to patient ratio depending on the unit you’re working in: Med/Surg: 6 patients (5 in California), Tele: 5 patients (4 in California), StepDown: 4 patients (3 in California), ICU: 2 patients). We’re compelled to convey that our experience indicates it’s very difficult to get hospitals to agree to this. However, Epstein is an expert. Therefore, it’s worth a shot!
- Will you take charge duty? Perhaps you’d like to have a clause indicating that you will not take charge duty.
- Does it cost money to park at the hospital? If it does, then you’ll want to bring this expense up with your recruiter.
Again, there are many more questions to ask the hospital during travel nursing interview. These are just the issues that might make their way onto the contract.
How To Use This Travel Nursing Contract Checklist
This checklist identifies over 50 items for you to consider when you evaluate your travel nursing contracts. Again, not every contract will include all of these items. Not every agency includes all of these items on their contracts. You may not care enough about some of them to have agencies add them to your contracts. Finally, some of the items may be irrelevant depending on the unique circumstances of your specific contract.
It’s best to use this checklist as a guide. As such, we’d greatly appreciate your helping us improve this checklist. Please let us know if we missed something by posting it in the comments below!