10 Potential Time Bombs in Your Employment Contract

Leigh Page

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October 22, 2015

In This Article

2. You Could Have Too Much Call

A common concern in employment contracts is being left with more than your fair share of call duty, because the document states that it's up to the employer to decide call arrangements, says Mark Stadler, an attorney with Burns White in Pittsburgh. "This basically means, 'You'll do the call that we tell you to,'" he says. You could be assigned call whenever you're needed, and you may get more call time than anyone else.

Stadler says the contract should protect you by clearly defining your call duties. "If there are three available physicians, then call should be divided three ways," he says. "If you have to do more than your share, the contract should provide that you'll be compensated for that additional time."

An employer can easily take advantage of open-ended call provisions, says Dennis Hursh, an attorney in Middletown, Pennsylvania, and author of the 2012 book The Final Hurdle: A Physician's Guide to Negotiating a Fair Employment Agreement. Some of the senior doctors may decide that the newcomer should take on some of their call time, he says.

For example, Hursh says he once represented a doctor joining a solo practice. The contract stated that the senior physician would define call duties. When Hursh asked that this clause be replaced by a strict limit on the new doctor's duties, the senior doctor didn't budge.

"He figured he'd been taking call on a 24/7 basis for many years, and the new physician should handle it now," Hursh recalls. The doctor backed down, however, when he realized this stipulation was a nonstarter.

Bottom line: "Make sure there's clear and concise language about the amount of call that's expected of you," Hursh advises.

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