Several months ago, I was hired as a per diem nurse because I wanted the freedom and flexibility. Instead of me telling the employer my availability, in the past they have called and said, These are the available days. Can you work? Call back. But now, someone has been hired to do the scheduling. He calls and tells me which days he has scheduled for me and I am usually OK with it. However, a couple of times recently, I told him I was not available a certain day during the two-week period. He calls on a Friday with the new schedule starting Monday, and I work from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He expects me to be available that Monday. When I said I already had plans for that day, he threatens me by saying he depends on me, so if I keep saying Im not available, he might have to let me go. I am per diem status with no benefits. Not even a different pay scale. Please tell me what my rights are, exactly what per diem means and how I can smooth things out with the scheduler. Perhaps I could tell him what days I am able to work ahead of time, but I’m not sure he will like that. I enjoy working there and have been offered a part-time position in the past, but turned it down because I am enrolled in a graduate program and need more time to study.
Nancy Brent replies:
It sounds as though you need to have a heart to heart talk with the new scheduler. He may not like what you have to say, but the reasons under which you initially signed up with this employer seems to have changed. He needs to know you are not trying to be difficult, but you agreed to work there because it allowed you the flexibility you needed while in graduate school. Perhaps your suggestion of giving him the days you can work in advance will help ease the situation.
Per diem work means you work on a day basis for a daily fee and receive no benefits. You did not indicate whether you get paid the same day you work or the paycheck comes weekly, monthly or in some other form. Do be certain that any overtime requirements are met if they apply to you and this particular situation.
Keep in mind a per diem arrangement works both ways. As an example, you could be willing to work every day but not receive a call from the agency. In short, there are no guarantees for work either way.
It may be that if you are unable to work something out with this scheduler, you may need to look for a per diem arrangement with another agency. Such positions usually are available because employers can save money by not having to hire an employee and pay that employee benefits.