How Much Paid Time Off Should a Physician Assistant Get? | PA Vacation and Paid Time
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 as part of their professional benefits offered.
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. Other topics of interest include:
- What Physician Assistant Expenses Should an Employer Pay For?
- Should a Physician Assistant be Reimbursed for Moving Expenses?
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.
Should PTO be Considered Physician Assistant Compensation?
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.
Share of Physician Practice Business Expenses
What business expenses should be reimbursed by your employer regarding a physician assistant employment agreement? I’ll just run through the list of the most common business expenses that we typically see within our practice. Each sort of employment relationship is unique. And so, there could be not included in this list. So, you just must consider your needs to carry out the duties that you’re employed for. And then whatever that is, that should really be the business expenses that you’re getting reimbursed for. But starting from the biggest amounts of money. And I’ll work my way down.
The biggest one is relocation expenses. Sometimes this is considered a business expense. If you’re going to be moving from out of state or across the country, that is one thing that your employer can reimburse you for. This is typically given as either a relocation bonus or relocation reimbursement, but either way that it’s structured, you just want to be careful because this is a large amount of money, I’ve seen anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000. You’re given that money up front or you’re reimbursed directly, but normally, you must stay employed with your employer for anywhere from one to three years. And if you terminate that agreement early, you may be required to pay back a prorated amount for how long you’ve been there, or you may have to pay back the entire amount. So, you just want to keep an eye on that, make sure you read your employment contract very carefully so that you know what you’re signing and what the consequences are if you do decide to terminate your agreement early.
The next business expense typically is any type of licensing fees or dues. If you need a DEA license or need to be credentialed with insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare, any sort of state agencies, things like that, that’s always normally reimbursed and that should be reimbursed. That is one thing that should always be done because you need that to provide your services. So, they should reimburse you and these can get costly. Now, occasionally I’ve seen an employment agreement where you’re given some type of reimbursement allowance. You’re given up to 5,000 for all your licensing and fees, other times your employer, and I would say most times, your employer will just say that they will reimburse you 100% for any of those costs.
Beyond Salaries: What Share of CME Should the PA Receive?
Then moving along, your CME allowance, and continuing medical education. You must do this to keep your license and provide your services, so therefore you’re considered an employee. Your employer should be reimbursing you for this. Again, this is structured normally as an allowance anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 annually. Sometimes it must be approved for what you’re using those funds for, other times it doesn’t. Again, you want to read your employment agreement. And then also, normally you’re given PTO time to go ahead and take those CME courses or conferences because if you’re not, you have to take vacation time and that’s actually money being taken away from you. So, CME also is very important. If you need a cell phone for your work, cell phone usage sometimes can be reimbursed, or they may provide you with one directly.
Technology, so laptops, if you’re provided with one or they’re going to reimburse you for using your own, that’s rare in healthcare. You’re normally provided one directly from the company. And then also travel expenses. Sometimes if you have some type of mobile practice or you’re going to be providing services at multiple clinics, sometimes travel expenses are also reimbursed. And this is what I was talking about at the beginning. Every situation is unique. And so, there may be expenses that are unique to your situation. You just need to look at what you need to provide the services that you have agreed for your employment.
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