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What It Means to Have Guaranteed Hours as a Traveler

Feb 24, 2020

"Guaranteed hours" is a clause most medical travelers have in their contracts. However, the terms of each clause may change with each contract. Some travelers assume this means they will be paid for the number of hours in the agreement, whether they work them or not. Others believe it means they'll be paid for the hours if they don't miss a scheduled day of work, while others assume it's a benefit provided by the agency to cover the traveler's financial needs to support themselves while away from home base.  

A traveler may also assume this is some "insurance" to cover their salary should the census drop or they are not scheduled as often as promised. While the term is commonly used across the industry, the definition can vary depending upon how it's covered in the contract.  

Guarantees Protect the Agency and the Traveler  

The agency has a contract with the hospital that spells out the financial nuts and bolts, including guaranteed hours. These policies help to protect both the agency and the hospital as revenue must be generated on both sides to cover the costs involved. The agency's ability to cover the cost will depend, in part, on the number of hours you work for the hospital.  

The guaranteed hours policy in your contract with the agency helps to protect you as well. One of the benefits of this clause is to ensure that if a facility has overstaffed, you will continue to be paid. Staffing a hospital is challenging as they strive to balance the number of staff against an ever-changing census, sick employee calls, vacations, and many other variables that affect the patient/staff ratio.  

Read and Understand Your Contract  

It is essential to know the guaranteed hours policy often varies from hospital to hospital and sometimes more drastically across regions. It is important to read and understand the contract - even the fine print - so you aren't caught unawares while you're on assignment. Some hospitals may guarantee every hour you are promised; most policies allow three shifts to be canceled over a 13-week period without covering the pay. However, some contracts may allow one shift a week to be canceled and still meet their obligations for guaranteed hours.  

At the same time, a contract may change at different times of the year. In other words, you may have worked for hospital XYZ in the spring, but by winter, their guaranteed hours policy may have changed. At times the contract may require you to float to other units within your scope of practice to get the guarantee and won't cover any shift you voluntarily leave early when the census is low. In a large metropolitan city where several hospitals are part of the same organization, you may be required to float between hospitals to get guaranteed hours.  

In other instances, you may not get your guaranteed hours if you request off for certain days one week if the hospital isn't able to fit their schedule around yours. In other words, while the concept is simple, the execution may be a little more complicated.  

Ask a GetMed Recruiter - We Can Help!  

Deciphering contracts and understanding the nuances of what a hospital expects to cover shifts and hours may be a little challenging. Just as you are an expert in your field, the recruiters at GetMed Staffing are experts at what they do. Call GetMed Staffing today so we can begin finding you an assignment that meets your needs.