TNAA Healthcare provided this article.
Your recruiter calls to inform you about a mid-contract pay change. Last year, these were exciting calls to get because it likely meant your pay rate was about to rise. In the current market, it’s not a call you look forward to receiving.
Every agency has to deal with mid-contract pay changes, but how they handle them can be a game-changer for a travel nurse. Before diving into the specifics, let’s talk about bill rates, who sets them, and why changes might occur mid-contract.
Who Sets the Bill Rate?
Who sets the bill rate, and what factors go into a travel nurse’s pay? The bill rate is not set by travel nurse agencies or recruiters. Instead, healthcare facilities set travel nurse bill rates based on market demand and budgets. A healthcare facility works with its managed service provider (MSP) and/or vendor management system (VMS), which help track the facility’s workforce spending. Consulting with the MSP or VMS, the healthcare facility determines the bill rate it wants to set for a particular position. Once that is set, the bill rate for that position goes to hundreds of agencies.
Each agency has different ways it splits that bill rate. The bill rate will include the traveler’s pay, per diems, benefits coverage, agency support and expenses, and more. The agency determines what will be paid hourly and uses the U.S. General Services Administration’s guidelines to establish what will be paid through per diems if the traveler qualifies for them. Your agency and recruiter should help you understand your complete compensation package.
Who Makes Mid-Contract Changes?
Changes start with the healthcare facility’s bill rate and trickle down. The bill rate drop affects all sections of the traveler’s package, from hourly pay to per diems. These have to be adjusted to work with the new bill rate and follow IRS rules.
An important thing to note is the nurse manager on the unit isn’t involved in determining the bill rate, and likely doesn’t know when changes occur.
How Your Agency Should Support You
When a facility drops rates and notifies agencies, your recruiter should contact you promptly to let you know. An action-oriented recruiter will specifically explain what has happened, provide details of the new package, educate you on the market, tell you about other opportunities in the area, and let you make the best choice for yourself.
You can either accept the new rate or decide to end the contract (after hopefully giving a professional notice). Unfortunately, this decision must occur as soon as possible so the agency can redo the contract with the correct rates and avoid any pay or tax discrepancies.
If you opt to end the contract, each agency is different in how it responds. Ideally, you’ll want an agency that doesn’t penalize travelers for leaving due to a mid-contract bill rate decrease. However, some agencies may charge the nurse for terminating the contract or blacklist them. To understand your agency’s response in these situations, read your contract and contact your recruiter for any questions. It’s your career and your right to know!
There are several decisions to make when becoming a travel nurse. They likely start with putting your trust in an agency and a recruiter to guide your career.
You’re a healthcare traveler who has uprooted life to help patients in areas where your expertise and care are most needed. When life presents you with a difficult situation, is your agency there to support you and navigate you through it? Hopefully, your answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
We hope you found this article on agency support during mid-contract pay changes helpful. Have you had any pay changes mid-contract? If you would like to share your experience please comment below.
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