Can I Be Forced to Work at an Affiliate Hospital When Census Is Low?

Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD

Disclosures

May 11, 2018

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Forced to Work at an Affiliate Hospital

Question

A nurse asks the following question:

I was hired to work as a staff nurse in a hospital. The hospital administrator is now mandating that we float to our affiliate hospitals when the census is low in our unit. The affiliate hospitals are further away and not in the same city as the hospital that hired me. Is this legal?
Response from Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD
Healthcare attorney

Yes it is legal I find no law that prohibits an employer from changing your work location Hospitals don t want to pay nurses to overstaff a unit If an affiliate hospital is desperate for nurses it makes sense to ask the underworked nurses to help the overworked nurses The alternative is likely to be a layoff of nurses which could include you And in anticipation of a follow up question No the employer need not pay employees for mileage ">Yes, it is legal. I find no law that prohibits an employer from changing your work location. Hospitals don't want to pay nurses to overstaff a unit. If an affiliate hospital is desperate for nurses, it makes sense to ask the underworked nurses to help the overworked nurses. The alternative is likely to be a layoff of nurses, which could include you. And in anticipation of a follow-up question: No, the employer need not pay employees for mileage.

Your options are to (1) do as the hospital requests, even though it is inconvenient for you, (2) quit, or (3) propose that the hospital use you in a way that is useful to the hospital and not so inconvenient to you, and try to convince the administrators to accept your proposal. For example, you might ask about floating to one or more units within your current hospital, doing committee work or staff education, or even training for a new role, such as charge nurse.

If you have an employment contract with your employer, you can negotiate that as a term in your contract, you will work at one location only. Some employers will agree to that and some will not. If you don't have a contract, then the employer can change your work location.

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