How Much PTO Should a Veterinary Associate Get?| Veterinary Vacation
How much time off should a veterinarian get? If you’re an employed veterinarian associate, how much total time off should the employer give you each year? First, it’s going to be in the veterinary employment contract how much time off you get. And time off has four components. One is vacation, two would be sick days, three would be continuing education, and then four, federal holidays. Those four things kind of make up the total time off. There are two types of systems for vacation. You have a pure PTO system, so PTO is paid time off. And I guess the corporate-owned practices kind of the big conglomerates that are gobbling up all the veterinary-owned practices lately, they’re more likely to use a pure PTO system.
Veterinary PTO Given by the Practice
In a pure PTO system, the vet would have one bucket of time off and they can do whatever they want with that time off. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sick day or a holiday or whatever. It’s coming out of that bucket if they’re not in the office for that day. And in a system like that, normally, the vet would then accrue a certain amount per pay period, and then assuming they’ve accrued enough, then they can use it. One tip: no vet should accept an accrual system. It should be, this is how much time off you get per year and from the beginning of the year. Having to accrue time off is just rare for an advanced-level healthcare provider. You don’t want to accept an accrual system. It should just be, you get what you get. Now, how much is a normal amount?
Well, for most vets, it’ll be 10 to 15 days of vacation time. It’ll be 3 to 5 days for sick leave. Now, sick days are sometimes state-dependent, meaning, there are many states that have laws in place that state if you are a full-time employee, you are then allowed this many days of sick time off per year. Continuing education is somewhere between 3 to 5 days as well. And then lastly, for the federal holidays, most places observe six to seven federal holidays. Let’s just kind of add them up. Let’s say you got 10 vacation days, 3 sick days, 7 federal holidays, that’s 20, and then continuing education, another 3, then that gets you to 23 total days off. That’s okay.
It should be somewhere between 20 to 30 days of total time off. You’re not going to see more or at least it’s very unlikely you would see more than that in any veterinary contract. If you’re only getting 15 days of total time off, that’s a big red flag as well. Why is that a red flag if you’re getting a very low amount? Well, I find employers who maybe don’t appreciate a work-life balance or expect the vet to just be in the office all the time. They’re usually more difficult to work with, or don’t appreciate the need for a little bit of time off occasionally. So, if you’re only being offered a very low amount, that’s a job you should probably just move on from and find another opportunity.
One benefit of these bigger corporate-owned practices is that it’s standardized how much time off they provide along with the business expenses they reimburse for. And it’s usually good. I find that kind of egregious time off is usually for the smaller veterinary-owned practices and it’s possible, maybe they just don’t understand what the industry standard is, or maybe it’s possible they just don’t want to give that much time off. But you’ll usually get a decent amount of time off if you’re worth a corporate-owned practice. So, what can you negotiate? Well, the vacation and moving expense reimbursement is what you kind of want to focus on. Obviously, it depends if it’s a pure PTO system or it’s segmented, but if you’re going to focus on one thing and like, let’s just say you want five more days, then you want five more vacation days. You don’t want to add five continuing education days because you can do what you want with a vacation day.
Getting Time off for National Veterinary Associates
Whereas if it’s a continuing education day, then you must do continuing education and some people just want the flexibility. And then as far as holidays go, that is what it is. There’s not going to be any negotiation as far as holidays go. Maybe if you’re in a vet specialty when you’re on call, that’s one thing you need to think about, okay, well you’re giving me 20 days, including these seven federal holidays, but I’m going to be on call for three of them. Will I get an additional three days of time off that way? The cost equals out. Most places would do it that way, but it won’t be written in the contract that way. You need to make certain and talk to the employer about, alright, if I am on call and I must come in on these days, will I get makeup days after the fact? That’s something to keep in mind if you’re in a vet specialty that’s on call. If you’re just a general vet who’s never on call, that’s not something you need to worry about. In summary, somewhere between 20 to 30 days would be a standard amount of time off for a veterinarian.
You can negotiate whether the employer is willing to do that or not. I don’t know. But it’s certainly something that you don’t want to, I guess, get the short end on one. Another consideration, I forgot to mention this: If you are on a pure production employment relationship, meaning, especially in the vet industry, they use pro Sal a lot. And that means you get a percentage of the collections that the practice receives. The more time off you take, the less money you’re going to make. If you’re just on a straight-based salary, then take as much time off as you want that is not going to affect your compensation. If you’re on productivity model where it’s in the vet industry, it’s almost always based upon net collections. The less you work, the less you’re going to make. There is a balance in between, alright, if I want to make this much money, I can’t take 30 days off versus what your target is as far as what you want to make per year. That’s one consideration.
Veterinary Professional Contract Benefits | Veterinary Benefit Agreement
Veterinarians are in high demand. People want to do everything within their power to take care of the pets that are so near and dear to their hearts, and the skills that a veterinarian brings to the table are also highly prized. The supply of veterinarians is somewhat lacking compared to the overall demand in the market at this time, and that has meant that employers have had to look at ways to sweeten the deal to get as many vets in their doors as possible.
Why Employers Require Contract Agreements for Veterinarians
Many jobs in any industry require potential employees to sign a contract that lays out the terms of employment and the benefits of coming to work at a specific facility. This is done as a means of encouraging people to accept a specific job offer that they might not have otherwise. When the benefits are laid out on the table, it is easier for people to see why they should or should not go to work for a specific employer they have been considering.
Veterinarians will always be asked to sign a contract of employment before they can begin their work. After all, the work that veterinarians do is so delicate and so sensitive that no aspect of it can be left up to chance. The employer needs to know beyond the shadow of a doubt what they are getting when they offer employment to a particular veterinarian.
On the plus side for incoming vets is the fact that they get to see some of the benefits that they will receive all laid out on paper in a way that makes it clear what they should expect.
Benefits of Veterinarian Contracts
There are many upsides to signing a veterinarian contract, not the least of which is the fact that it can provide some much-needed stability to the veterinarian.
Many veterinarian contracts are designed to run for a period of 12 months or longer. Thus, the veterinarian can feel confident that they will be employed at a specific facility for at least a year if they don’t do anything egregious that would nullify the contract.
We also want to explore some additional upsides to veterinarian contracts so that it is clear why these documents are so important to so many people.
Professional Liability Insurance
No matter how talented someone is at their job, there is always a risk that something terrible could go wrong. Veterinary Practice News explains why vets are so strongly encouraged to purchase protection that will keep them and their practice safe:
As claims become more common and damages rise, defending against malpractice claims becomes a more expensive and necessary concern for veterinary practices. As with many other professionals, veterinarians commonly purchase professional liability (malpractice) insurance to guard against the expense of defending against such claims.
If an employer can add professional liability insurance as a benefit to signing the contract, then this is all upside for the veterinarian. It means that they may not have to pay for this insurance out of their pocket unless they happen to want supplemental coverage beyond what the employer provides.
Clients are often very particular about how their pets are taken care of, and they may feel that they have a claim against you if something goes wrong with their pet’s care. This is why all vets who are considering a new employment offer should speak with a veterinary contract lawyer about looking over the paperwork that they have been asked to sign to make sure it includes extensive liability insurance protections.
Everyone needs to think about their financial future as they are still actively working. Preparing for the fact that you won’t be able to work as you do right now someday is a wise practice simply because it is the reality of the situation. You should prepare for the day when you are past the age where you are able to work and need to rely on the savings that you have accumulated over the course of your working life.
A 401(k) plan for veterinarians should be automatic in any contract that they are expected to sign. This is to say that any veterinarian who is thinking about signing up for a job with a given employer should recognize that the employer needs to offer a 401(k) plan for the offer to even be considered.
PTO and Sick Days
Veterinarians who are considering accepting a new job may want to give special consideration to the personal time off (PTO) and sick days that they are allotted. The reason? Because it is very important that they have the opportunity to establish some work/life balance in their existence.
There is a burnout crisis that is sweeping through the practice at this time as the number of clients continues to grow and grow. Many vets are being required to work far more hours and under far more challenging conditions than they normally would have to. Given all of this, it is abundantly clear that vets need to catch some breaks and be allowed to recover from the onslaught that is their job right now.
When looking over a contract, veterinarians should see how their time off breaks down into different categories, such as:
- Sick days
- Vacation days
- Personal time off (PTO)
- Flex time
Different employers have different definitions for how they look at the time provided to their employees to take care of what they need to. Before signing an employment or independent contractor agreement, it is important to understand what those definitions are.
Discounted or Free Services
It would be unusual for a veterinarian not to have a pet (or two, or three!) of their own. Thus, it is a reasonable assumption that the vet may receive special discounts or even free services from their employer. They may not want to work on their own pet for understandable reasons, but they may have the opportunity to receive veterinary care from a co-worker who can help them out. This service should be discounted by their employer as part of the terms of their employment.
This may seem like a small thing, but it makes a big difference in the lives of busy veterinarians who have multiple pets that they need to take care of at this time. Getting a little break on those services can be the cherry on top.
Reach Out Today: Veterinary Contract Negotiations
Before you sign on to any professional veterinarian contract, we would like to have the opportunity to discuss it with you. It is our intention to try to help you understand every element of your contract (including an analysis of your non compete agreement) and if said contract makes sense for your needs. Please contact us and let us know how we can start the process of helping you receive the assistance that you require.
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