Red Flags in a Nurse Practitioner Employment Contract
What are some red flags in nurse practitioner employment contracts? This is kind of a long list, but I’m going to boil it down to the most common ones that I see in an employment contract. You always want to read your contract carefully. I think we can start with a red flag. If you ever read anything that you don’t understand and cannot get clarity on, that’s a red flag. You should seek out an attorney like us who are familiar with employment contract issues. And we can explain that to you. And then if we still don’t understand it, then that’s a red flag. You want to get those words clear in your employment agreement, so you know what you’re signing and what your expectations are.
I’d say that’s kind of the first red flag. It’s very general, just understanding the clauses that you’re signing. I’d say the second red flag I always look for in an agreement, and if I don’t see this, it’s a big red flag to me. There needs to be a clause in your employment agreement. That is a without cause termination, meaning, either party but especially yourself can terminate this agreement without any sort of reason or no reason at all. So, without cause termination, you give your notice to the practice or the group company, whatever, and normally there is a specific number of days that you have to give notice. Normally, that’s anywhere between 60 to 90 days, you’ll give your notice of termination, and then you are let out of the contract.
Now, you want to be careful, read it carefully. There could be some sort of bonuses or non-competes that would apply, but you are allowed out of the contract. It’s a huge red flag if there’s no way to terminate the agreement. You could be stuck in this contract for however many years unless the other party breaches or you’re let out of the agreement. So, this is a huge red flag. Always look for a without cause termination. And then you want to look for how many days’ notice you must give before you can get out of that contract. Another big red flag I see a lot is overly restrictive non-compete clauses. It kind of depends on the laws of your state. But you want to read your employment agreement carefully because non-competes can be kind of sneaky. Sometimes they go by different names, or you don’t understand what a restrictive covenant is, which is just a promise not to do something.
You’re promising not to compete with your employer. But you want to be careful that you fully understand what that non-compete is restricting. For how long, normally, that’s straightforward, but when we get to red flags, it’s normally the area that you’re restricted for. It could be too many miles. If you are in New York City and they’re restricting you 20 miles, well, that takes out a huge area. That would be a huge red flag. And then also, you want to consider how many locations your non-compete applies to. It’s a red flag if you are restricted from all the locations of the practice even if you don’t provide services there. Another red flag is if you are restricted from locations where you provide any services for.
You’ve gone there one time during your employment, and you’re now restricted from that area. So, you want to make sure that they’re reasonable. Otherwise, that’s a huge red flag, and a lot of times, people don’t think about non-competes when they’re signing the agreement. It’s exciting. You’re starting a new job. You’re going to be making money. But you need to think about, if this ends what are my consequences or how is this going to affect me? Am I going to have to move? Do I have to move out of the state? Even so, non-competes that are overly restrictive are a huge red flag. Another red flag probably would be confusing compensation models. When you sign your contract, you should know how you’re going to be paid and when you’re going to be paid. Normally, base compensations are standard, but when you get into bonuses, sometimes they’ll say something like it’s at the sole discretion of the employer and can change at any time.
It’s kind of a red flag because you don’t know what the criteria are. You have no idea what to expect. So again, confusing compensation models, I would say, would be a red flag. Another one would probably have to be with scheduling or call expectations. Sometimes employment agreements are completely silent on that. You have no idea what the expectation is of your schedule or if you are responsible for any on-call duties. So, that would be a red flag. Typically, an agreement is going to be general, but there should be some type of language that’s going to give you an expectation of what your day-to-day is going to look like. And then going even further than that, some agreements state that you are to provide 40 hours of clinical services that don’t include any admin time.
That’s a red flag. You definitely want to address that because you don’t want to spend hours having to finish up your charting and records before you go home every night, then you’re going to be working well over 40 hours. Just like I said, look at the schedule, the on-call duties, and does it allow for any sort of admin? And then I would say, kind of circling back, it is a red flag if you don’t have any sort of ancillary benefits or business expenses reimbursed from your practice. Now, depending on the size of the practice or clinic that you’re going to be working for or hospital, you may not receive as many business expenses reimbursement, but you should receive some. That’s going to be your CME, you should get money for your CME annually. You should get your license and your dues paid for, DEA licenses, those are expensive.
And the renewals are expensive as well. So, those are things you want to be looking out for. If you’re not receiving those, and it’s completely silent, that’s a red flag. You should bring that up with your prospective future employer. So, to kind of go back through my list, I would start with any unclear terms, that’s a red flag. Non-compete clauses that are overly restrictive, a red flag. In compensation models, you don’t know how you’re getting paid, you can’t figure it out, that’s a red flag. And then not receiving any sort of CME, licensing, dues, that can be a red flag as well, and then not knowing your schedule or on-call duties. You have no idea what to expect whenever you start there, that’s a red flag as well.
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