Travel Nursing and the Travel Nurse Pay Transparency Bill in Illinois
June is Homeowners Month, and in this article, we focus on Travel Nurses, who frequently have new short-term places to hang their hat. While some travelers rent short-term housing and have that included in their agency contracts, others live in travel trailers, recreational vehicles, and even boats. The travel nurse job is not for everyone, and it’s toughest on families, but for singles who want to see more of the country, being a travel nurse can be an exciting career option. Many traveling nurses work for and are paid by independent nurse recruiting agencies. The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has new disclosure and reporting requirements imposed on agencies. These agencies are regulated and new laws like the new Travel Nurse Pay Transparency Bill are intended to provide increased fairness and information among nurses and agencies.
See additional detail on the new law at Nurse.org: Travel Nurse Pay Transparency Bill Passed in Illinois
During the pandemic, the need for nurses exceeded the available pool of nurses available to work part and full time. Travel nurse recruiting agencies filled the needs of many hospitals desperate to staff hospitals. Many of the hospitals were paying travel nurse staffing agencies record amounts for premium-paid travel nurses.
Would you make your home mobile and your job? Check out this article about the life of traveling nurses: A Day in the Life of a Travel Nurse
Michael V. Favia is a Chicago nurse licensing attorney, advising, and representing nurses and organizations like the agencies, with legal issues related to professional licensing, regulation, and legal compliance with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
Key Operational Changes from the Illinois Department of Labor
- No non-compete covenants between agencies nurses and certified nurse aids
- No liquidated damage charges, conversion fees, employment fees, placement fees, etc.
- Mandatory agency disclosure of new facility contracts to IDOL
- Wage rates paid must match wage rates on contracts
- Agencies must submit quarterly reports to IDOL
- IDOL must publish an annual report of average amounts paid
How Do Travel Nurses Benefit from the Travel Nurse Pay Transparency Bill?
“This bill critically protects temporary nurses’ and nurse aides’ right to change jobs or get hired directly by a healthcare facility. It will also increase stability and transparency in the healthcare industry in the state.” Jane Flanagan, Illinois Department of Labor, Acting Director.
Some nurses get into travel nursing to see different parts of the country and figure out where they want to call home and plant their roots. Sometimes working at a great hospital is the thing that tips the scales for some nurses who want to get hired full-time by the hospital. How they can do that and not be blocked by their contract with a travel nurse agency is the purpose of the new law.
New Transparency Law Helps Keep Travel Nurses Fully Informed on Terms and Rates Charged
During the coronavirus pandemic, the need for nurses exceeded available talent in many hospitals and healthcare systems and they went to agencies with their demands. When supply and demand lead to price gouging, we commonly see legislative efforts to better regulate agencies which is important for the public good. In some instances, there were reports of nurse traveling agencies charging huge fees, not disclosing how much they were getting paid for their nurses, and standing in the way of nurses getting hired on directly by the hospital employers, therefore cutting the agency out of its profit. Because the hospitals pay the agencies and the agencies pay the travel nurses, the hospitals likely did not have knowledge of or control over the problems some travel nurses reported.
Travel Nurses May Want to Get Hired Directly by the Hospitals and Healthcare Venues Where They Work
The expanded protections for workers referred by nurse agencies is a goal of the Nurse Agency Licensing Act as amended in this newly updated law. No longer can an agency prevent a traveler from getting hired on directly because of a non-compete contract. No longer can agencies charge liquidated damages for breaching agency agreements, and other similar fines and penalties. In the travel nursing industry, there are all sorts of communication websites and chat boards where people discuss industry issues and on those chat boards agencies with good reputations do well, and a good reputation is secured by an agency that always operates above board and maintains professional standards, always.
Protective Restrictions on Contractual Terms Between Nurses and Recruiting Agencies
Agencies have reporting duties to the IDOL about new contracts with healthcare facilities and including information about how much the healthcare facilities and hospitals with whom they have contracts, are paying the nurse recruiting agencies. Agencies need to be transparent about rates and fees charged, and just like entering the purchase of the travel trailer and truck to haul it, the travel nurse has a legal right to know the details of the agreements of their placement contracts. Under the new law amending the Nurse Agency Licensing Act, nurses can make informed decisions about their travel nursing contracts around the country.
Oversight of Travel Nurse Recruiting Agencies by the Illinois Department of Labor
The IDOL oversight of travel nurse recruiting agencies can make it more attractive to potential travel nurses who are considering doing a stint as a traveler, seeing the country, and exploring different opportunities. Too often, an industry failure such as a lack of travel nurse recruiting oversight can create fear in nurses and nurse aides who decide not to try travel nursing because of the horror stories they hear. Like in many industries, people often hear the negative stories which are truly few and far between, but when they know they have the protection of state laws and regulatory oversight, they may be more comfortable exploring a great new opportunity.
So, before settling down to be a permanent homeowner, why not experience the world and enjoy making some good money in travel nursing! We will protect you at Michael V. Favia & Associates.