How much paid time off should a physician assistant get? What is the industry standard as far as time off goes? Well, first, you’re only going to get paid time off if you are an employee. If you are an independent contractor and receive a 1099 at the end of the year, it is very unlikely that you’re going to be given any paid time off at all. There are many PAs that work as independent contractors, especially those in the surgical specialties. They are only working sporadically, maybe a couple of weekends a month, or even only a couple of days a month. And in that scenario, if you’re an independent contractor, you are not going to get paid time off. This discussion will be about employed physician assistants who receive normal paid time off.
Paid time off is broken down into four categories: vacation, sick days, holidays, and then continuing education. And most employers will then give a certain number of days for each of those things. There are other employers, especially if you’re working for maybe a big hospital or hospital network, where they’ll have what’s called a pure PTO system. And in that system, there’s basically one giant bucket of time. And then any time you’re out of the office, you take that out of the bucket, it doesn’t matter what you’ve gone for. It doesn’t matter if it’s sick days or you’re on vacation, or you’re doing continuing education. If you’re not in the office, you’re taking time out of that one bucket. Now, if it’s not like that, let’s break down what’s kind of normal for each of those. The total time off for a PA should be somewhere between like 20 to 30 days.
When you add up all those four things, sick days, holidays, vacation, and CE, it should be somewhere between 20 to 30 days. I find most employers will give 10 vacation days. Now, some states have laws about how many sick days an employer is required to provide. But usually, it’s somewhere between three to five sick days. Again, somewhere between three to five days for continuing education, five would be on the high side for a PA. And then holidays, however many holidays that the office observes, which is usually somewhere between six to seven. So, let’s just say you add up 10 vacation days and six federal holidays, that’s 16. You get three sick days, that’s 19. You get three days for CE, that’s 22. That would be an average amount. If you’re only getting 10 total days of time off, that is not enough. If you’re being paid on a base salary, the more time off, the better for you.
If your compensation isn’t tied to productivity, try to get as much time off as you can. Now, if you’re on a contract where you’re paid solely on productivity, then you must weigh, alright, well, I can take tons of time off, but I’m going to make a lot less money. Somewhere there’s a sweet spot for each person of alright, I need to take this much time off just to keep saying, but I also want to make this amount of money. And so, I need to work this many days to hit the productivity level that I want. Now, if you’re not being offered enough time off, then you need to attempt to negotiate that prior to signing the employment agreement. This is a standard thing that people address in contract negotiations. And you’re not going to get anywhere if you sign the agreement and then try to negotiate after the fact.
If they’re offering you 10 total days of time off, you need to say to them, look, this is well below the industry average and break down, these are the four components of it. This is what’s normal for each of those components. You’re providing me significantly less than that, but I’m being compensated like a normal person that would receive 20 days of time off. So, you’re making less by having to work more. If you present it in that way, instead of just saying, I want twice as much time off, I think an employer would be more likely to make at least some changes to how much they’re offering you. Honestly, some employers just don’t know, like if a physician never utilized a PA before, maybe they’d never have an employee and they’d just kind of make a number up. Well, you can say to them, look, this is well below what’s normal. And I don’t think most rational employers would take offense to that. So, that’s how much paid time off a PA should get.
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