Can I Be Required to Cover Saturday Clinics Without Pay?

Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD

Disclosures

November 06, 2018

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Question

We received the following question about employment contracts:

I signed an employment contract 2 years ago. It doesn't mention a Saturday clinic, but now my employer is requiring me to cover one. Am I required to do that for free? What should I do?
Response from Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD
Healthcare attorney

It depends on what your contract says. Some employment contracts have clauses that allow the employer to expand a salaried employee's duties whenever the employer wants to do so. These might say something like, "Employer reserves the right to assign Provider to a new, additional, or substitute office and/or add responsibilities as needed, depending upon the needs of the practice and patients." If your contract has a clause like this, it's unlikely that you have legal basis to demand extra pay for the Saturday clinic. However, even though it may seem like you have no recourse, you always can ask for what you want. Ask and see what happens.

When your current contract is up for renewal, you can renegotiate to include additional pay. Some contracts require the employee to give 90-120 days' notice before the date that their contract expires, stating in writing that the employee wants to terminate the current terms and renegotiate new terms. Be sure to give notice as required by your contract, because if you don't give notice, the current contract may renew automatically for additional years at the current terms.

If your contract doesn't have language which allows the employer to broaden your responsibilities and hours, then ask to be paid for covering the Saturday clinic. If the employer agrees, ask that the employer write and sign an addendum to your employment contract.

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