Travel Nursing Advice Column - Questions and Answers about Contracts

See questions and answers about travel nursing contracts from travelers here, or ask your own.

Question

When waiting on an interview call from a hospital job through a traveling agency is it appropriate to contact the hospital directly?

Response

This will completely depend on two factors: the hospital and the recruiter you are working with. I have heard of recruiters having a candidate call the hospital directly but it may not be appropriate in every case. Your recruiter will know the specifics of the situation and how it should best be approached to benefit you. Definitely do not contact a hospital directly without prior approval from your recruiter.


Question

I was just on my very first traveling assignment and the job cancelled my traveling contract. Where do I go from here?

Response

First, donít panic. While a cancelled contract is not a super frequent occurrence, it does happen, even to veteran travel nurses, and one cancelled contract is not the end of your career. Make sure that you have a good understanding of exactly why your contract was cancelled; this will help you forge a plan to move forward. Itís possible the cancellation was not about you personally and that the facilityís demand simply changed. Itís also possible that the match between you and the facility was not a good fit, but that does not necessarily mean you would not do well at another location.

The best thing you can do at this time is work closely with a trusted recruiter. This person can answer all of your questions and address your concerns, help you review the contract to make sure that the cancellation is being handled correctly, and also work to facilitate your next career move.


Question

I am relatively new to travel nursing; I did one six-month job two years ago and am giving it another go with another company. I was supposed to start a job today (Monday morning), but my recruiter called me late last Friday afternoon saying the hospital had delayed my start due to resource issues and he would get back with a new date. I have been trying to contact my recruiter all day with no reply. What could this mean? He said delay not cancel, and by contract my start date is today. Is the contract voided? Has this happened to anyone? I'm angry my recruiter hasn't called back, even if he has nothing new to add to the story. It's late in the day so I am obviously not starting tomorrow either. I don't know what to do.

Response

Delaying for a resource issue can mean a couple of things:

1. Resources could mean money, and the budget approval for the contract was delayed.

2. Resources could mean that the census changed, so they are now not sure they need the contract.

As far as delaying your contract, I would also be very upset that my recruiter will not return my calls. Contact them again and ask for the recruiterís manager or someone that will answer your questions since your recruiter will not. The most important aspect of working as a traveler is the relationship that you have with the recruiter. Whatever happens in this contract, keep this experience in mind going forward.

Finally, the bad news is that even though the contract says to start today, cancellations can happen, and this ďdelayĒ could mean a cancel. Most states, and most companies classify traveler contracts as ďat willĒ employment. This means that the hospital, company, or traveler can basically cancel at any time for any or no reason. This isnít necessarily bad, because if you are in a situation that is not good for your nursing license, or family emergency, etc. there is an opportunity to leave the work assignment. That being said, it is all the more important that you find a recruiter that you trust and have a good relationship with.

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Question

I recently signed a contract to work for a hospital and for many reasons decided not to move forward with the contract two days before my start date. My travel company called and told me the hospital was going to fine me $2,500. Is this really something they can do?

Response

Your contract is with your company not the hospital, so no the hospital canít fine you. However, the hospital may have a clause in their contract with the travel nursing company that fines them if there is a backout and they may be trying to pass this on to you. You need to check your contract and see if there is any mention of this in there. If so, the amount of the fine would typically be taken from the next check(s) you receive if you continue to work with the company. Otherwise it will be difficult for them to collect this from you. But be prepared that they may decide to take action against you to get it, so you may want prepare yourself for that possibility.

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Question

I recently was employed by Aureus. They lied, promised re-certification for PALS and TNCC, talked badly behind my back to the hospital I was working at (I have a voice mail sent to me in error), would promise me per phone agreements but not put anything in writing etc. etc. Could go on and on. Am now black balled from certain "Catholic" associations. I signed on for a twelve week contract and wanted to start two weeks later then when the original contract was signed. Quick and in a hurry after up to 20 phone calls a day I agreed to start two weeks early. Not being the smartest person on the planet, I did not read the 2nd contract; other then they changed the start date. Later to find out, they never changed the end date so was committed to two weeks longer than expected. I think Aureus is a group of liars, thieves and the worst kind of people to work for. I would like my pay checks audited (nothing was itemized) and I would l like to get them looked at by somebody who they have to account to. Can you help me?

Response

Sorry to hear about your troubles. Aureus has had an iffy reputation in the industry.

There are three options you could look at:

1. You could contact an attorney, but that could be very costly for your issue and not get you very far considering you did sign a second contract.

2. You could contact PAN Travelers (www.pantravelers.org/index.php) and see what they can do to help. They are advocates for traveling nurses and go to bat for their members offering legal advice and services.

3. You can contact NATHO (http://natho.org/), an association of travel nursing companies of which Aureus is a member. Their goal is to hold the members to a high set of ethics and standards. They have seemed to exist more for the benefit of companies than travelers however so be aware of that if you approach them. Hope these options are able to guide you in the right direction.

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Question

I quit my permanent position to start travel nursing and I am working with 3 agencies right now. How long does it take from the recruiter submitting you until you sign a contract? What is the average wait time?

Response

How quickly you sign a contract will depend largely upon when a placement comes through that is the right match for you. It can generally take anywhere from 1-6 months, but usually around 3, for you and your recruiter to get acquainted and execute a plan. Once a prospective assignment is on the table you will typically have a phone interview with the facility Ė usually 2-3 weeks before the start of a contract Ė and things will progress from there provided all of your documentation is in place and your drug screen and background check goes through. For a more specific timeframe donít be shy to ask your recruiters what to expect.

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Question

I was blacklisted from HCA hospitals due to my complaining to a manager about unsafe practices, will this make traveling assignments difficult to find for me?

Response

Being blacklisted from HCA shouldnít make it difficult for you to find traveling assignments as there are many other options for hospitals. Discuss your situation with your recruiter and he or she can assist you in finding the right fit.

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Question

The position I'm thinking about applying to is only 20 miles from my home, do the agencies allow extra hourly pay if they're not paying for housing, utilities etc.?

Response

As for travel nursing close to home, there are select opportunities depending upon agency and hospital policies. Many hospitals and agencies do have radius rules in place to prevent permanent staff from converting to travel contracts. These radius rules can vary between 50-100 miles. Check with your agency for their specific rules and they should also be able to help you determine particular hospital radius rules. In the case that your agency is not paying for housing and related costs, they may or may not offer extra hourly pay; but one way or the other this will be a factor when negotiating your compensation package. You will find some companies are more open to negotiating pay while others only offer set pay packages, so that is something you will want to find out up front when you are talking to them. Good luck!

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Question

My current travel assignment is at a hospital that has dangerous practices......my license is at risk. I have told the company but they don't care.......can I get out of the contract?

Response

This is a tricky situation that you should approach with proper caution. First as far as protecting your license goes you should not accept a patient assignment or participate in practices which are unsafe. You need to document these situations and discuss your hospital manager. You could also at that point discuss with the hospital and see if they could come to a mutual end of your assignment. This may upset your company however, so be prepared to cut ties with them if need be. But you do not want to work with any agency that leaves you out to dry in a situation like this any way. If after talking with your hospital manager you still feel that you need to end your assignment then you need to look at your contract to see what happens if you break it. There can be financial costs to you if you do so, so be prepared. This will also possibly mean no longer working with that agency, but saving your license is worth it.

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Question

I was terminated after 13 years from my job, specializing in dialysis. The termination was unexpected, as my state is a "right to work" state I had no recourse but to simply accept the termination. I've been looking into dialysis travel nursing, but both companies I have spoken with have terrible reviews from the travel nurses who have worked for them (not on their site...but other review sites not affiliated with said companies). What should I do? Which company? How will I know which one is honest? I understand they are in it for the money, but there has to be at least one honest company out there, right? My company had a new manager, 6 months later I was terminated. I am still untrustworthy of "corporations" but I love dialysis. What should I do?

Response

Sorry to hear about your situation, but it does open some new doors for you at the same time. As far as companies go, there are a lot of good trustworthy companies out there it will just take talking to more than one or two of them. It is good you have found the review sites that should be your guide. A lot of travel nurses say that there is no perfect company only the perfect company for you. You just have to find one that you feel comfortable with. Try asking some of the companies you are getting good vibes from if you can talk to some of their travelers directly. Try to get at least one current and one past traveler for a good perspective. If they balk at this you may not want to go with them. If they let you then you will have the chance to really find out what the company is all about. Also be sure to ask lots of questions of your recruiter and study any contracts carefully. Good luck.

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Question

I am new to travel nursing. I just signed my first contract but I have not started yet (the facility is local and its dayshift). I donít think I can fulfill the contract for two reasons. One because my sons home hospital schooling is going to be extended, he will not be returning to school as planned and the other reason is because I might go back to my last job which I have been at for five years and its nightshift. It says in my contract that I am a "at will" but it also says I will be charged twenty an hour for every hour I am short of the 36 hrs. Thatís over 9,000. I was thinking I could possibly work both but that means I would only be available for my contract job Thurs-Saturday.

Response

In the simplest of terms ďat willĒ means that either you or the company can end the contract at any time for any (or no) reason. The only way they could charge you for any money is if there are expenses that you incur (such as housing damages, rent, etc.) that the company has paid for but unable to recover because you are not working. Other than that, they have no claim to making you pay. So it is unlikely that you will have to pay back anywhere near $9000. If they attempt to though, you may want to seek legal counsel.

A word of caution however, getting out of a contract can be a very messy situation and one that can cost travelers financially depending on the situation. Before you do anything rash I would recommend exploring two options:

1.Talk to your travel nursing company and explain the situation to them and see what can be worked out. They may try to hold you to the contract, but hopefully they will see that you have no interest in being there and will not what someone who does not want to be there working.

2. See if you can push back the start date for starting back at your last job until the contract assignment is over.

Just keep in mind too that terminating this contract may make it more difficult for you to get any new ones down the road.

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Question

If I have verbally agreed to start a new assignment next month but found a permanent position elsewhere that I really want. If I haven't started the contract yet, can I get out of it?

Response

You are not obligated to start any contract you have not signed. However, getting out of the contract without upsetting your company is a different story. The best thing to do is to be honest with your recruiter and do it sooner rather than later. This will hopefully keep you on good terms with them and will give them time to find a replacement. Another thing to keep in mind is that as an at-will employee, the employee or the company can terminate the contract at any time for any reason. That does not always mean it is wise or will be easy to do so, but it is always an option available. Getting out of contracts may cost you financially for any costs the company has incurred so in your case you should be OK, but the earlier you can do it the better, before any costs have been incurred.

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Question

I'm a traveler on assignment in Portland Or and unfortunatly the area is making me sick ( high dose steroids and antibiotics) and I don't think I can stay. Any advice to get out of the assignment? Other than seeing an allergist to confirm the weather issues and my health. thanks

Response

I would start by talking to your recruiter. They are your career lifeline and best one to give you advice. Plus, theyíve most likely handled similar situations by other travelers. You definitely want to keep your travel nurse reputation intact and keep a good relationship with your recruiter so they can recommend you for other assignments. There might be a possibility that they will suggest you getting a doctorís note for your allergies, but if it means you can gracefully exit an assignmentÖ I would say itís worth it. I also recommend reading a past question we had about this: Breaking a Travel Contract - Itís really not advisable to leave an assignment, since itís 3 months is so short of a time period. You might actually have to pay out of pocket for lost costs the company incurred such as housing (if you took the company housing). Hope that helps

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Question

I am in the middle of a 13 week contract and the facility is already hinting that they would like me to consider renewing for another 13week assignment when this one ends. Do I have any leverage with my agency for increased per diem or hourly taxable rate? I figure if the hospital wants me for another assignment...wouldn't my agency be willing to add a raise to the renewal contract? Just not sure how to approach this...thanks!

Response

It is worth a try because agencies want travelers hospitals love, but it may not be that easy. Every company handles its pay for travel nurses differently so how successful you are at this will depend on how they do it. Many simply provide a rate and that is it and there is very little to no negotiating room. Others offer more customizable pay packages with more room to negotiate, but in this case it may depend on how everything was set up the first time. You may be at the upper limit of what they can offer you and therefore you donít have room to go up. In either case it does not hurt to ask. However you may be asking why your company simply does not go back to the hospital and ask for more money. But in many cases that is more difficult than it sounds. Rates for jobs are often negotiated in advance so it is difficult for them to negotiate in a one off situation. That is not to say it doesn't happen it is just not as simple as it sounds.

Also, keep in mind that the key to understanding the pay for travel nurses is knowing how and where the money is allocated. Some companies will spend more on your housing while others may put more towards your insurance or some other benefit. Here is a good article about how that allocation piece works and how to go about negotiating your pay as a travel nurse Should I be able to negotiate my wages with my recruiter?.

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Questions

I have been a travel nurse for 9 years, after taking a few years off I recently returned to travel nursing. I have noticed a scary trend, it seems the hospitals don't blink about cancelling contracts due to a multiple of reasons, some as simple as just not caring for the nurse ,others the nurse not meeting the needs of the hospital. I have listened to these cancelled nurses, their concerns about what resources they have, having to leave within 48 hours and their companies dropping them. What safety nets do we travelers have? Can it be written in a contract, how do we protect ourselves in these difficult times. I am very concerned with the future of travel nursing as a career choice with the feelings of so many nurse travelers feeling they are out there on their own. Any answers out there?

Response

Youíre correct in noticing this trend. As a contracted worker, most of the time there is little protection during a contract, and hospitals seem to be very quick to react to an immediate situation like a change in census, budgetary concerns, low unit moral etc. Canceling a travel contract can seem to be a quick fix for some of these concerns. In trying to protect yourself, look for two things. First, read your termination clause in your contract. It should have some kind of time frame for the hospital cancelation without cause (like a 2 week notice that you are going to be canceled). This will at least show that the travel company and the hospital have had this discussion. It is not a fail-safe though, and like you mentioned there are some reasons that can be used to make a termination ďfor causeĒ and not have to hold to these time frames.

Also make sure that you are in regular and frequent communication with your travel company about anything that happens at the hospital. If there is other turnover, new management, changes in census, changes in your floating frequency, anything, be sure to bring it up to your recruiter. You can even ask your recruiter ahead of time how many travelers they have placed in the hospital, how many have been terminated, and other questions to assess the situation. Also talk to your hospital supervisor frequently and be the best employee you can be. This will make it harder to end your contract, no matter what the circumstances are.

Second, discuss these issues before the contract with your company. Find out their policy on continuing to work with you if you should be terminated for any reason. Again, be in frequent contact throughout an assignment so they are aware of what is happening at the hospital and how you are approaching your contract. If you give updates during the contract, and then are terminated and the hospital has very little information to relay, your company will be more likely to find you a better contract right away.

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Question

I recently accepted a travel nursing job from a company in Florida. There were several delays because the company's IT system would not accept my credential emails with attachments. I sent them four times within a before they discovered the problem, and I finally went to a printing shop and faxed them. Three times. The first two times the fax machine did work and so I sent them to another fax number. My physical, including labs, was not ordered until five days before I was supposed to start, and was further delayed when the company's designated physician required a note from my primary care doctor but did not fax it to the company when it was faxed back to her on the same day. I have been timely in all my responsibilities but because of all the delays I was told the day I was to leave that because of these time lags, I could not start as scheduled.

Not surprisingly I am dubious about working with this company, which also booked me a cheap one room "extended stay" place twenty minutes from the job, for three months. There are other similar places available five minutes from the hospital. The contract itself does not address this issue at all, beyond saying that the employee is an "at will employee" and can be reassigned. Can I get out of this contract?

Response

You may be able to get out of it and it sounds like you are right to be concerned. As an at-will employee, the employee or the company can terminate the contract at any time for any reason. However, getting out of a contract can be a messy situation. The first thing you should do is discuss your concerns with your recruiter. If they immediately go on the defensive and try to bully you into staying in the contract then you may indeed have chosen the wrong company. If they are willing to work with you however, then that would be a better road to take. Trying to get out of a signed contract is not fun and may cost you financially for any costs the company has incurred. So before you do anything rash talk it over and see if it can be resolved. Then move onto a new company.

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Question

What is an average day like for a travel nurse?

Response

At the hospital the average day for a travel nurse is really no different than that of a permanent nurse. The biggest differences will come during the first week when you are getting acclimated to your new surroundings and different protocols and ways of doing things. You may not have much orientation and you will be expected to come in ready to go. There will be a lot of new people to meet and the first week may be a whirlwind. Other than though it will be pretty much nursing as usual.

Away from the hospital you can live like a local, like a tourist or somewhere in between. Hopefully you will be in good safe housing that is close to the hospital where you work and in a city or region at least that you find interesting. If you are not the kind of person who gets easily homesick then your time away from the hospital should be a lot of fun. These days with modern technology though it is easier than ever to stay in touch and avoid loneliness on the road. A lot of what you do will depend on whether you are traveling alone or with someone, but either way it is a great way to see the country.

Here are some links to previous advice we have given on succeeding as a travel nurse.

5 Simple Ways to get on Good Footing as a Travel Nurse

5 Ways to Make a Bad Impression on your First day of Traveling Work

Travel Nurse That's Homesick?

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Question

Do travel companies ever allow a sick day in contract? One sick day is not only losing pay but costs out of pocket. If so how would be the best way to word it in contract? It's scary to think I might get the flu or something and miss a week!!

Response

Travel nursing companies do not typically allow for a sick day in contracts. The definition of a contract worker, which is what a travel nurse really is, is that the worker is paid for hours worked. Now some companies may offer a PTO option, but if they do, the money for this is probably coming out of your hourly pay anyway so you are really not gaining anything. If you are concerned about being sick and missing time you should definitely discuss it with your recruiter and understand what your companyís policy is. Most of the time a day here or there missed during an assignment is not a big deal. Hospitals know that getting sick every once in awhile is going to happen. It is only a problem if it lingers and you have to take an extended period of time off.

Question

Is a verbal contract binding before everything is negotiated?

Response

It would be very hard to prove a verbal contract. There would have to be a lot of verbiage stating this was for an actual contract, what you answer next is binding, etc. If your company tries to hold you to this you need to let them know that you will not be working with them now or in the future and find a new company. If they persist you should consult an attorney in the state your company is located in and get their help and assessment of the situation. But whatever you do, do not let yourself get bullied into taking a travel nursing assignment you donít want to.

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Question:

I took an 8 week assignment in DC with CCTC. It went excellent except housing was a cheap motel. Was told I had to work 13 weeks to get an apt. The hospital liked me so much they agreed to renew for 13 weeks. I got a great apt. After a month into working in renewal, I found I had made an error on my time sheets. I was a half hour off in start and finish times, but with same total contract time charged, 10 hrs. Nothing additional. The hospital terminated me for fraud, but said I was the best clinician they have had & a hard, excellent worker. I am vacating the apt now. This seems so unfair & cruel. They did not talk to me or discuss the problem & never explained as they told me my shift was cancelled. I had not been relieved on time the whole 3 months & did not bill them or complain. Do I have recourse?

Response

Sorry to hear that. Unfortunately your recourse may be limited. First thing you should do is check your contract. More than likely there is wording in it that states that the hospital or travel nursing company has the right to end a contract for any reason. Which is the norm. But definitely check it.

Right now with healthcare costs rising and uncertainty with the upcoming election hospitals are really clamping down on costs, which may have been the ultimate determining factor in ending your contract and the timesheet issue was just any easy opportunity to end the contract.

Being blindsided like you were those in terrible and one of the unfortunate risks travel nurses have to take. It does not sound like it was handled well at all since no warning was given and your company did not talk to you about it first, which means that this may be one of those instances where the hospital wanted out of the contract any way and this was a convenient excuse. Hopefully your recruiter fought for you and if they didnít, you should probably look at some other companies in the future that will fight for you more.

Question:

I am a Er nurse and want to travel.. I have 6month old and a husband who wants to take online college classes... Travel nursing seems to be a good idea to save money and increase my income so my husband can focus on school for awhile... Am I wrong? Is traveling with a baby a bad idea if my husband is going to be a stay at home dad for awhile? I have always wanted to travel and learn how different hospitals operate. My husband is on board and supports the idea we just want to make sure it's a smart plan with a baby. 3-12hr shifts a week only would still allow me time to spend with my son also. Or am I wrong in thinking that I would be able to have say so in my work schedule?

Your schedule should work out like you said too, it may just not be the exact days you want and may not be the same three days every week. You wonít know for sure until you talk to a few companies though. Make sure you are upfront right away about your plans to travel with your family and your hours preferences so there are no surprises

Be prepared though, it will still be a challenge. As any parent of an infant knows just a trip to the mall can feel you like you are taking your whole house with you, so being organized and efficient will help for sure. But the better prepared you are the easier it will be.

Response

Of all the scenarios to try travel nursing with a child yours actually seems the most ideal. Since your child is obviously not in school or even very mobile at this point, that is one thing you donít have to worry about. The other thing in your favor is that you have a caregiver already planning to be at home.

Good luck.

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Question:

What happens if I quit and assignment after 3 weeks into a 13 week assignment?

Response

The first thing you need to do is talk with your recruiter and find out what your options are going forward, as well as what the ramifications are. Every situation and travel nursing company are unique and will handle this differently. But you can likely expect to have to pay fees or penalties for cancelling a contract and your last paycheck may be delayed or less due to the circumstances you listed. This should be outlined in your contract so check there (also a good reason you need to always read and understand your contract). But the only way you will really know what will happen is once you talk to your company. Make sure you fully understand what they tell you and try to get it in writing somehow. However, before you decide to cancel the contract you should explore any other options you may have with your recruiter and try to stick it out. Your company could decide not to work with you any more should you end your contract, which means a lot of extra work finding a new company and explaining to them what happened at your last assignment. Ending a contract early should be a last resort.

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Question:

I am having trouble entering this field. I have had two assignments the first one was a 13 week assignment in which the hospital breached the contract for hanging blood through an IV pump of all things! I have been a nurse for 22 years and am a very skilled nurse, I can put up with very severe working conditions. I never called in sick and I was on time to work. I did not complain about anything. I do not understand on what basis a hospital can terminate a contract? The place was miserable place to work and I was surprised that I even recieved poor treatment from fellow travelers. I really want to make traveling nursing work for me, any advice would be appreciated. Do I have any recourse? The agency place me in a different hospital.

Response

Sorry you are having such a bad first experience with travel nursing. I hope you can get through this tough time and stick with it long enough to have assignments you enjoy, because they are out there. First off, can you elaborate a little more on "having trouble entering this field"? Do you just mean this first assignment experience or did something else happen? Secondly, in most contracts between travel nursing companies and hospitals, the hospital can end a contract for any or no reason and because a traveler is a contingent worker, they are often less forgiving than with perm staff. Which means any little mistake can cause them to cancel the contract. Now do hospitals ever use performance as an excuse to get rid of a traveler they can't afford or no longer feel they need, probably. It sounds like you may have run into one of these situations, but it is very difficult to prove that it happens and there is not really much you can do about it. You can hope that your recruiter stands up for you and fights to keep you at the hospital and wants to hear your side of the story. In your case it sounds like you had a good travel nursing agency behind you since they were willing to stick with you and were able to find you a different assignment so quickly. On your next assignment keep up the great attendance and work ethic and you should be just fine. You may also want to ask more questions on your next assignment to find out what practices are acceptable there, because every hospital is different and has different protocols. That way you will be aware of anything you need to differently up front. Other than that, just keep with it and see if travel nursing improves for you. Hope this helps.

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Question:

I have started travelling and my husband accompanies me. Upon listening to some advise from a financial planner, I would like to travel as a true contract worker where I get paid a 1099 at a higher rate rather than a W2 with benefits. Do you know of any companies that allow you to be a true contract employee?

Response

This is the only company I have known that specifically specializes in this type of set up and this was a few years ago. I am not sure if they have changed. You may want to call them and see what they say.

SKILLED NURSING, INC (Independent Contracting Options)
955 Horsham Rd., Suite 205
Horsham, PA 19044
(800) 284-4764
inquiry@snistaffing.com
http://www.snistaffing.com/contactus.asp

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Question

Please Help! I have just arrived in San Francisco and have completed my first day of my assignment at a hospital in Oakland. Unbeknownst to me I have arrived here a week before a strike. I was not told this before accepting the assignment. I have already moved in to my very expensive SF apartment and have been here for a week waiting to start my assignment. I was originally supposed to start last week but I was told by my recruiter and the hospital that I could not start until today. Several issues have arisen with this. Firstly, my company has informed me that I will accrue housing charges for the week I was here before starting my assignment (even though the delay was not my doing). Second, the hospital employees are going on strike. I met several travelers who are working there just for the strike and are getting paid a massive amount of money for the compensation (I am not). Most importantly however, I do not feel comfortable working in these conditions. The hospital is absolutely chaotic. The travelers I have met said they float everyday mid-shift. I was not informed of this in my interview. My first day working at this hospital and I was floated mid-shift to a facility across the street on a post- surgical recovery unit with patients undergoing specialty radiation treatments that I have never even heard of! It was so very unsafe and I was in fear of my nursing license through out the experience. After admitting 4 post-op patients and spending 15 total hours at the hospital without a break, food, or bathroom I've concluded that there is no possible way I could work this assignment! The interesting part is I haven't signed a contract yet. My recruiter had to redo the contract and has sent it to me electronically to sign and fax back to her.

My questions are: What should I tell my recruiter about my decision, should I trust this company in taking another assignment since they failed to inform me of the strike, If I decide to back out all together can they charge me for the week and a half of housing?

Any info or advice you have is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

Response

I am so sorry that I am just getting around to reading your email. Sounds like you do need immediate help. By now you have probably decided what you are going to do.

If you plan on leaving, I hope that you didn't sign the contract. A company should never send you somewhere without a contract in the first place. This is a red flag to begin with. Without a contract they haven't a leg to stand on.

I feel for you getting into this situation. What a deal.

I can't really give legal advise since that is not my field. However, I do know nurses that have been in similar situations. They have fought it and won. You can call the labor board or there is also a service called Pre-Paid Legal services that will allow you to utilize an attorney of any kind for a very low monthly rate. It's kind of like having legal insurance. This may be something you want to check into for now or in the future. www.prepaidlegal.com Quality Attorneys for family & business. Call 1-888-770-3651.

Good luck in your decision. I would love to hear back from you on what you have decided so far and how it is working out for you.

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Question

We do have a traveler wanting to know what red flags to look for in a contract. We would like to open this up for discussion. Please email us at comments@travelnursingcentral.com if you have any suggestions on what to look out for based on your experiences.

Response

Watch out for extra hours - expected by the hospital, but not in the contract. Another travel RN (from a different company), started a job with me. We both had contracts for 36 hrs./week (three 12 hr. shifts) but when we got there, they said that of course, we had to do an extra 8 hrs. every other week to make-up our 40 hour work week. Then, they said, please fill-in the call coverage sheet. Since both of us had chosen this particular location because we wanted to spend time with our families who lived in the area, we were in a quandary: Insist that they honor our contracts, or be "team players" and work many more hours than we had planned. My fellow traveler chose the first option but worked many extra shifts on a prn basis. I chose the team player approach but was not totally satisfied with my choice and wouldn't repeat it. If came up again I'd go with the prn choice.

Another thing to ask about is, 'How long, on average, do the nurses have to stay after their shift to finish their charting?' I'd been used to a system which frowned on having ANY unfinished charting at end of shift. All the RNs on this unit routinely stayed late to chart, it was accepted that you couldn't get the patient care and your charting done in your regular work hours. I remember one particularly horrendous shift followed by four hours of charting!! This left only eight hours turn around time before I had to be back for another 12(+) hour shift. Without my husband traveling with me as support staff, this schedule would have been impossible to maintain.

Since this assignment was not allowing the desired time with family, my fellow traveler and I didn't renew our contracts. Each time we were asked, we stated that we were making other plans. In spite of this, on the last day of my contract, within hours of my departure to my next job, I was told that I had to stay and work because they had me on the schedule!! As I recall it went all the way to an agency vice president before the supervisor admitted that she might have made a mistake and I was free to go.

This job was unusual in other ways: we were paid by the hospital, but not considered hospital staff. Consequently, neither the hospital nor the agency would give us health care coverage (the agency did give a small stipend towards the plan that we found for ourselves, however). Neither organization made any effort to clarify this situation before we arrived. This peculiar financial arrangement made it impossible to participate in any 401 plans for the duration of this contract.

Don't be bamboozled by agency staff. One recruiter told me that I had to verbally agree to a contract before I'd seen it and would be bound by that verbal consent. Take your business somewhere else. You're worth money to the agency - don't work for anyone who makes you uncomfortable. Agency and facility staff should answer all your questions satisfactorily and willingly, it's what they expect of you.

That said, I loved my co-workers at this assignment. We gave good care and saved lives under difficult conditions. Nurses are wonderful people everywhere you go and traveling is a fun way to practice. Just give the same care and attention to your arrangements before you go as you would to a patient assigned to your care.

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Question

Question about Travel Nurse or RN from Nigeria to work in California

Response

You may want to check with this company. If I come across any more companies that bring nurses to the U.S. I will send that information to you as well. Meanwhile, you can try the company below.

O’Grady Peyton International
100 West Cypress Creek Rd, Suite 750
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Toll-Free Telephone: (877) 855-0655 (U.S. and Canada only)
Facsimile: (877)578-3978 (U.S. and Canada only)
E-mail: routecaribbean@ogradypeyton.com
http://intl.ogradypeyton.com/Contact_Us.aspx

You may also want to try
AMERICAN TRAVELER
1615 South Federal Hwy. #300
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
800-884-8788
Fax: 888-884-6510
Info@americantraveler.com
www.americantraveler.com
or go to the following link:
http://www.nursetown.com/nurse_jobs_article_109.html

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Question


I have currently been on assignment at the same hospital for a year. I want to stay at the same hospital and switch companies. I am afraid there is something in my contract with my current company stating I cannot do that. The new company states that if I fullfill my contract with my current company,after it is done I am free to do what I want and my old company can not legally do anything to me. Do you know of any situations like this or who I could contact regarding contract laws in California. I would like to be sure that they cannot legally do anything to me if I switch companies and stay at the same facility. Thank you

Response


If you want to leave and maintain your integrity too, I would suggest actually talking with a manager or president of the company and telling them what you would like to do. Ask them what the consequences would be if you signed on with another company and violated the contract. This way you are being up front with them and you would know what they would intend to do. If they say something favorable, ask them if you could have that in writing to prevent any future problems.
If they say, well we will try to sue you then you can decide if you want to risk it by contacting a contract lawyer. The following link will take you to a list of contract lawyers in the state of California in your local area.

http://attorneypages.com/518CA/index.htm
I don't know of anyone who has been sued for signing on with another company at the same place.
More than likely,you also have the option of taking an assignment away from this hospital and then returning to it at a later date. The IRS often becomes suspicious after you have been at a facility more than a year anyway. This is just a thought.

I am sure you will decide what is best for you. I would enjoy hearing back from you as to what you decided to do and how it worked out for you. It would be a great story to follow.
A philosopher once said: " life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

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Question


I wanted to try travel nursing .I am retired and i thought I might be able to find a really good hospital not too far from my home. I found lovely nurses, but i found things were not as the nurse manager stated. It is a California hospital and yet they expected me to accept patient assignments out of the legally mandated ratio.

They had a web site that invited suggestions to improve the "Next Generation of Care"
I made some and as a result the hospital terminated me. I had never signed a contract because when it came the contract quoted a higher copay for private housing than the recruiter and I agreed on. She said she would send a new contract.

When the hospital terminated me, the travel company determined I was still a viable travel nurse and the recriuter said she would try and get the company to waive the housing charges if i accepted another assignment right away.To make this brief they owe me money for the amount they over charged me and they owe me money for the california penalty on delayed meal periods, but now they have sent me an invoice to pay housing charges.

i was perfectly willing to finish my contract, but the hospital terminated me so i dont feel i should be charged any thing but the contract says... if you start work and you don't sign a contract,. it is a contract. I asked if they were going to charge me for housing anyway...couldn't they just let me stay. They said no i had to be out in 48 hrs.

i have filed a discrimination complaint with the state as I feel hospital terminated me for internal whistle blowing and at the advise of a labor lawyer. I have requested my lawyer write them a letter. I also wrote a letter to the travel agency team leader with my complaints and i intend to file a missing wage complaint with the state labor board.
Can you give me any other suggestions please?
Does anyone have any idea how far they will go to try and collect on housing charges?

Response


Sounds like you are taking all the right steps in fighting back. Unfortunately, these type of situations seem to be happening more often as more and more agencies are going into business every day. We could advise a lawyer who is interested in contract law for travelers, but it sounds like you are already getting necessary legal advice.

There is a movement for traveling nurses to join together right now to fight against these issues, but it has a long way to go. We hope to be one of the leaders in this effort.

Meanwhile, we would love it if you were to keep us updated as to how things evolve in this situation so we can share it with your fellow travelers who could find themselves in similar situations (hopefully not though).

It's scary to be in a situation like this. You can be left feeling vulnerable and alone. Seeking out advise and allies is your best bet to keep you strong and to fight for what you know is right. Keep us all posted. We are cheering you on.

Thank you for your prompt answer. iN AN EFFORT TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING i AM NOW ASKING PROSPECTIVE travel companies for sample contracts and as another writer
on your site was advised I intend to ask for a clause that if the hospital backs out of the contract that they bear all the expense. I will never travel again if I don't get this. MY current non traveling employer really appreciates me and even though I am casual call I have loyalty to them.

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Question


I am supposed to start a 13 week assignment at Craven in North Carolina. I was slightly perturbed with the interview on the phone and the manager said something like "Travel nurses used to be great, but now they seem to be the ones that can't work any other way. I read the reviews on Craven, which are not good. My question is this. ....I have not signed a contract yet, everything has been verbal. My start date is May 12. My verbal acceptance was approx 2 weeks ago. Do I have an obligation?, and how angry is my the travel agency going to be? I had accepted verbally a position approx 5 months ago and had to back out because I am going through a divorce and had to get to get all kinds of financial things done.

Response


I agree....backing out two times isn't going to look the best. However, it is also very refreshing to see that you are concerned about this and wanting to do the right thing. Overall, you need to do what is right for you.

If you have not signed a contract, you should be able to back out without any penalties. Make sure to explain the situation and how you have been thinking about it and it just doesn't set right with you.

Make sure to tell them as soon as possible. The sooner you tell them the easier it is for them to let it go and cancel all their obligations as well. This also gives them a little time to try and fill the assignment with someone else. I am acutally suprised that you accepted the assignment two weeks ago and they haven't already had you sign a contract. They should be trying to close the deal as soon as possible for themselves.

Be as honest and upfront as you can be and then let them deal with it however they may. If they really get angry, you can always find a new agency. However, if you tell them as soon as possible and you are honest and willing to work for them on another assignment, it is very likely they will give it another try.

Please write if you have any further questions and try to make sure you are positive before you accept an assignment in the future. It does put alot of strain on the agency and isn't to be taken lightly. However, situations do happen and people are entitled to change their mind. It sounds like your intuition is telling you something about this assignment. The red flags are up. Three months can seem like a long time when you are at a place you don't like to be. Traveling is something that should make your life more enjoyable. I think you are right in not going on the assignment. In the future though, you may want to think about it a little longer before you accept so that you know you are sure. Good luck with you travels!
 
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Question


I signed a contract with an agency to work 7p-7a for a hospital in florida. In orientation I received a call from the director of the hospital who proceeded to inform me that i would have to work 3-11 (40 hrs) for 2 weeks because the census was low and that it would be temporary, then they would put me back on the 7p-7a shift. Now my 2 weeks are up, and the hospital is not willing to give me the 7p-7a shift and wants 2 weeks notice from me, I agreed to do only 2 weeks. I am not giving the hospital 2 weeks notice and now my agency is charging me for housing. What do you think about this situation?

Response


If things are exactly as you say, I would do the following. I am not an attorney and I cannot really tell you what to do in this situation. I can only tell you what I would try to do if I were in this situation.
This does not sound right. The hospital has a contract with the agency that they have not upheld. I would get anything in writing that I can. I would ask the hospital to put it in writing why they cannot provide work now. I would gather all the information I can and then go to the State labor attorney and see if I have a case. Labor lawyers usually don't charge you anything unless you win and then the money is take out of the settlement.

However, before going to all the trouble of a labor lawyer. I may go to the agency and (being as nice as possible) tell them I would like them to find me more work right away and that this problem is between them and the hospital. In this situation, sounds like the hospital should be paying the apartment. I would tell them that I will have to go to a labor lawyer if they continue to ask for money from me for an apartment when I am perfectly willing to hold up my end of the contract and work at the hospital for the agreed amount of time. Furthermore, if I did pay anything for the apartment, I would ask for receipts and a written explanation from them (signed) on their letterhead exactly why I having to pay this money and the situation behind it. Keep all documentation to build my case. I would tell them, I was willing to pay as long as they provide you with satisfactory documentation. Sometimes, this can open their eyes.

Good luck in your adventure and learning experience. Keep us informed as to how things turn out.

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Question


I reactivated with a local agency for a contract that never appeared. I now am being scheduled per diem, and have many shifts cancelled due to internal staffing changes. Short of moving on, any advise?

Response


Is this the only agency in town? You could sign up with a few more agencies and keep your options open. Are the internal staffing changes occuring in the company or in the hospitals? I am unclear. Depending on the situation, you can tell the agency that you wish to speak with one experienced staff member when you call (request him or her) because you can't afford to have that many cancellations. You may want to talk to a supervisor to get a fuller understanding of the problem, then nicely explaiin your situation and ask for a solution for the time being while things are being straightened out. Put the ball in his or her quart and let them come up with a solution that can help you and them out toward getting you the shifts you are scheduled for.

Thank-you for responding so quickly. The staffing changes are occurring within the facilities themselves. The Hospital System will schedule for open shifts, then cancel 2 hours prior to the start of the shift because census is lower than expected, or they fill within the hospital for less cost than agency. This now leaves me with at least one if not two cancelled shifts per week.
Yes, there are a few agencies in town, (Green Bay) most are relatively new, and are not quite as established. I am concerned about conflict of interest issues if I sign up with another agency, in addition to the one I am currently working with. I have even approached the agency about different hospitals which have consistently advertised for ER nurses, and pushed them to approach these hospitals. They have apparently done this, but have not secured a foothold yet.

I have an appointment today to speak with my former employer about returning, just because I need to have a steady income. I am divorced with 4 teenagers...I don't have a second paycheck to back me up. I will probably stay on with the agency, but work only limited hours with them. I had hoped that working the local agency, which is also nationwide would provide a door to my eventual plans of traveling 2 years from now. My former hospital is a critical access hospital that runs with only 1 RN in the ER, and uses RT for backup. The hospital has gotten much busier, but no RN positions have been added. It worries me that I feel I am putting my license on the line each shift I work up there, which is one of the reason's I left to begin with.

I understand your struggle with politics and the need to work. I am not sure how big Green Bay is. Smaller towns are a little more difficult to get the hours you need. However, it should be in your best interest to sign up with all these agencies. Hospitals have a list of agencies they work with and they will often staff that day with a nurse from the agency that returned their calls first, or the one they like to work with the best and so on. I have had situations where the hospital told one of my agencies they didn't need a nurse anymore and meanwhile the other company ended up sending me to the same hospital. Who knows how they pick the agency for that day, but you want to make sure you are in the file for choosing. Depending on the norm of the area, some agencies will take it personal if you sign up with another agency, but most of the time they understand and they see their competition more on the hospital end than with the nurse. You are a nurse who is will to work for anyone that can place you. It is their job to compete for the work. If one of them calls you to work, but you are already scheduled somewhere than you can simply tell them you are unavailable that day, but you are available so far on the other days. They don't need to know your life story.

Agencies are just glad to have experienced nurses to work. Don't worry about this affecting your future travel plans. The agency you have been working with and many other agencies will be glad to work with you when you are ready to travel.

Can you apply to any other hospitals in town instead of the one that scares you? What if you worked part-time there and the other days were registery? So many options to consider. Good luck. There is no doubt that one of the disadvantages of local registry is that you have no guarantee of hours. Sometimes, even if you do get a shift, you may be sent home early. The larger the city (more hospitals) the easier it is because there are more options to fall back on.

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Question

I have been traveling for almost a year now (2 asignments). i have had little difficulty finding assignments until now. my last assignment ended 6/24 and i have been out of work since. im working with 2 agencies and have submitted to about 12 hospitals and have not had any interviews. i was interviewed faster when i had no travel experience! i have gone over my profiles and can't find any reason to not have any Responses. very frustrating! is this just the nature of the beast or is there somethng else going on? do others have this problem??? please advise!!

Response


What is your specialty? The demand for certain specialties can vary. Are you looking to travel in a particular area? I am not sure what is happening without knowing more. I would to suggest you sign up with more than 2 agencies in order to keep your options open. The competition among agencies for positions is increasing

I did finally get an assignment yesterday. It isn't my chice of location or specialty but it's not bad and I can't afford to be picky at this point!! I wen with a bigger agency-I'm wondering if that was the problem. Thank you so much for your help. I appreciate the time you spent!!

I am glad you found work. Larger agencies tend to have a bigger selection of assignments, yet they are often less personal. You want to keep yourself signed up with at least 5 to 10 agencies of various sizes so the odds are in your favor. Then start looking around a month before your assignment is up. Good luck and thanks for the update.

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Question


How could I go about dealing with a travel company that breached the contract that I had with them?

Response


I am not sure about the details of your situation. I will continue to check into this question in a general sense for others in similar situations. For now, I would suggest you contact the Labor Commission of the state you were working in at the time of the contract. Also collect as much evidence and documentation as you can. Labor Attorneys usually don't charge you, they make their money from winning cases against companies that have done you wrong, especially if the company owes you money. I would get a Labor Lawyer and then keep us posted as to how things go. This information would be helpful for all travelers to know.

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Question


I am going to be interviewing for a job at St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. Do you know of any nurses that have worked travel assignments there, and liked it?

Response


I haven't known any nurses that have been there, but I did know a surgical technician that love it. According to him.....the hard terrible part about going there is having to return home. I hope you write in and tell us about it if you go. I am sure others would love to hear about your adventure.

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Question


The hospital I am currently under contract with is cancelling my contract 6 weeks early. They are cancelling all travelers at the hospital. My recruiter tells me that it is OK and that we need to find another assignment. Does this hospital not have to "settle" this contract? What do I get out of this besides a lot of worry? Any advice on this matter will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Response


I really feel for you on this one. Life is not always as it should be. Obviously, the hospital should have the decency to finish out their remaining contracts on ethical grounds at least.

Legally......every contract is different so it is hard to say if they are obligated by law. The contract may have a standard clause saying they could discontinue at any time for any reason. It is also likely that your recruiter doesn't know. Many recruiters are not allowed to view contracts.

You could curse and pull your hair out trying to get to the bottom of it and it probably wouldn't be worth the effort. If you like your company, I would definitely use this situation to negotiate for extra benefits on your next assignment to compensate your hardship and disorientation.

I can tell you that this situation is not common. Many hospitals will gradually taper off rather than drop off. Also, the next time..... you can always try to negotiate for a statement in your contract with the agency stating they (the agency) will pay you for the length of the contract should such an occurrence happen in the future again that is out of your control.

Good luck. Remember blessing sometimes happen in funny ways. Who knows what is going to happen now. Please let me know if it leads to something great. Life has a funny way of doing that.

Followup
Thanks for such a speedy reply. You are right when you said blessings happen in funny ways.
Although I like the hospital that is canceling me, I have just found out that a hospital I had been to before, and loved, is needing immediate help.

I will be asking for a clause in my contract regarding cancellations from now on.
Thanks again,

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Question


I am on my first assignment and at a small hospital, contracted for 12 weeks in ICU. I am frequently floated out to a very disorganized Tele unit. At times I am starting to think my license my not be safe. I have been there 4 weeks and already have worked with a 52 years old, in good health, developed pneumonia and died. The wife is a nurse and requested an autopsy, from an "nonhospital associated" source. I feel good about the care he got the day I took care of him, but still worry about giving a deposition. If I refused to continue working at this hospital, what would the potential consequences be to me. My contract says that if I don't complete they can bill me for any expenses they incur. they did not pay any of my travel expenses and they do not provide the housing. My housing allowance if paid with my hourly pay, each week.

Response


Are you still feeling like your license may not be safe? You are in better shape than most people who feel they must leave their assignment because they aren't providing your housing. That's usually the issue is their having rented out a space for a certain amount of time that will no longer be occupied. Be sure to notify them by email or letter and explain why. This way you have some sort of documentation.

It's too bad things are turning out this way. Is there any way you could refuse to float to the tele unit? What's the worst that could happen....they would end your contract?

The best thing to do in order to know what the company is going to ask for is to tell them the situation and ask them straight out what they would want you to pay if anything? This way you know what you are facing if you decide to leave.

Please write and let me know how this turns out.

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Question

I'm going to be terminated

Two days ago I was informed that my current contract was being terminated. My recruiter asked me to wait until he had further details regarding the situation. Today (2/23/09)he contacted me to inform me that the apartment complex wanted me to be moved out by the 25th of February. He stated that he had just cut a check to them a few days previous to the place where I was living that was to follow through until March 23rd, 2009. I'm going to attempt to be out of the place by Friday, February 28. He stated he would be giving me my full 36 hour pay,(for which I had coming from the previous week), but was not going to pay me my per diem for the previous week that I had worked in order to recupe some of the losses. If the management is able to rent the apartment before the 23rd of March then he would be getting the remainder of the $$ back. So, if I am out on February 28th and they rent the apartment on March 1st he'll be getting that $$ refunded. I will be out my per diem which I've already worked for and as I understand is considered part of my pay.**At least the way I understand it.** I'm going to speak with the apartment manager tomorrow as I could not contact her today and ask that my date be moved to Friday, Feb. 28th. She can most certainly show the apartment as I have kept it very clean and even done some light repairs and improvements. I believe it to be unreasonable to think that I can move out so quickly considering the short notice I received and the fact that I'd been employed here in Tucson and live in Wisconsin. Does the company have the right to with hold from me the per diem $$ that I have already earned for hours worked?? I also wonder are they allowed to not pay me the travel costs to get back home. I've been informed that they will no longer be employing me. I have worked for this company for four years. The reason given by the facility for the termination of the contract was "that I simply was not a good fit for this position." I worked a total of 5 weeks at this
facility. Please let me know about the per diem, etc as I could certainly use that money to help me get back to Wisconsin and have some cash until I can secure another position elsewhere.

I'll be waiting to hear from you, and thankful for any help and advice you can give.

Response


Each party could argue their rights, but the fact is that even if you are in the right for the money, it doesn't mean you are going to get it without an attorney. They can basically do whatever they want to do unless you get an attorney(labor lawyer) to back you up and it won't get worked out before it is time to leave.

If you did decide to get an attorney at a later date, you may want to check into prepaid legal http://www.prepaidlegal.com/. I know someone that uses this very affordable service and says it has worked great for her in different situations.

For now, you are going to have to make take lemons and make lemonade.

Good luck and please write back with a follow up on what you ended up doing and how it worked out so we can all learn from each others experiences.

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