How Specific Should an Employment Contract Be?

Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD


March 26, 2019

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A nurse practitioner who is in the process of negotiating an employment contract with a physician practice asks how specific such a contract should be:

"I want to work 4 days a week. The person who interviewed me agreed to that, but when I got the contract, it's not that specific. It just says I will be a full-time employee. Is it reasonable to insist that my work days and hours be specified in the contract?"Response From Expert Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD, Healthcare attorney

Response from Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD
Healthcare attorney

Yes, but it may be a deal breaker. Many physician practices will agree to specify in writing a clinician's work days. Other employers want to keep their options open. For example, a practice might have tentative plans in the future to open a weekend clinic or an evening clinic and may want to have you available to cover those hours. If your employment contract says you work 9 to 5 Monday to Thursday, the employer would have to hire another person, renegotiate the contract, or pay you extra for the extra work.

From your point of view, having a set schedule allows you to plan your life. From the employer's point of view, giving you a set schedule limits the employer's options. Usually, potential employers and employees can reach a compromise. If not, then it may be best to part ways.

Employed clinicians should understand that barring a contract that specifies the clinician's hours, the employer may set hours without mutual agreement and change hours and days from time to time.

For legal help for nurse practitioners, in small doses, visit my YouTube channel.


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