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Can a DON decrease a nurse’s hours of work?

Dear Nancy,

I am an experienced nurse of 30 years. I got a new position on a Medicare rehab unit. The shifts are 12 hours. I was told it would be a full-time position. After a couple of weeks of working as a new orientee on the floor, the DON asked me if three 12-hour shifts or two 12-hour shifts would be good for me. I said two 12-hour shifts is enough. Three months later, the DON, who also does nurse schedules, reduced my shifts to just working 12-hour shifts every other weekend. When I asked her about this, she said, that since I wanted only two shifts per week, there is no spot for me during the weekday, and nothing can be changed.
She did not inform me before making the new schedule. My income will be drastically reduced, and I will need to find an extra job to fill in a shift or two during the week. Can she do this? I feel I’m being targeted by her since I started there. She also said I was slow in my work and not performing as well as I should.


Dear Suzanne,

At the very least, it sounds as though your DON did not share with you her plan about your change of schedule. Whether intentional or otherwise, what you ended up with was not what you understood your job would be when you were hired.

In situations in which you do not receive full details about what you agreed to, it is important to discuss it with the person who offered you the change. Doing so as soon as possible, being firm but clear that this was not what was explained to you, sharing the impact this miscommunication has on you and the need to have the situation corrected as soon as possible are essential.

You mentioned you thought you were being targeted and that the DON was not happy with your work up to the point the schedule was changed. You should also discuss this with her and let her know you think this may be why she drastically altered your work time and did not share with you the implications of going from three 12-hour days to two 12-hour days/week to the current schedule.

Discussing this situation with your DON may or may not effect a change. It might be, for example, that the DON assigns you to another unit where your requested times are available. This resolution might not be what you would like, but it avoids you having to find a position at another facility. Or, the DON may not change anything. If so, you might consider looking for a position elsewhere where you can get the hours you want. Again, this might not be the best resolution for you. However, it may not be an ideal scenario if the current state of affairs requires you to find work elsewhere to meet your financial needs and continue to work under this DON too.

Regards, Nancy

By | 2021-05-07T16:35:31-04:00 June 15th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

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