By: Shari Dalton
Recruiters are expected to be advocates for their travelers, but they are also required to be knowledgeable about every aspect of the recruiting and contracting process. This can be an overwhelming amount of information, so we’ve compiled a list of the topics which come up in conversation that you should be able to have with grace and confidence.
Some of the information below may be redundant for many of you, but after working with several agencies this year, there are some things I noticed junior recruiters didn’t fully understand or feel confident answering when asked.
Disclaimer: Your company policy may differ from the information below. We’ve included information which reflects the “industry standard” for the topic areas reviewed. For specifics regarding your company’s stance on these topics, please refer back to your standard operating procedures.
So here we go: Conversations with grace and confidence:
- Per Diem.
Per diem, by definition is a daily allowance for expenses. It is a program designed by the GSA (and independent agency of the US government) that some expenses are tax deductible and others are nontaxed reimbursements. In the healthcare staffing industry, it refers to the housing stipends as well as the meal and incidental expenses that we offer our travelers.
If you were a businessperson traveling from Omaha, NE to Chicago, IL, upon your return, you would submit an expense report to you boss to be reimbursed for the cost of hotels, meals, taxi rides, etc. Your boss isn’t going to take that amount and then deduct taxes and then pay you-they are going to pay you what you spent.
The GSA implemented their program for those who travel more regularly for work. It keeps those traveling from having to submit expense reports for housing and meals/incidentals. The GSA sets expectations for every city and state in the country stating that you can be reimbursed up to “x” amount per day without providing receipts to your employer. UP TO is important to note because in some areas, these amounts are incredibly high and the bill rate you are given to work with would never support maxing this out for your travelers. And, even though your travelers do not need to submit receipts to you, it is still advised that they keep them for their own records.
- The 50 mile rule.
There is no such thing as a 50 mile rule. Many companies have implemented these as a guideline to help protect them and their travelers. The truth is, that in order to receive per diems, the traveler must be duplicating regular living expenses. For example, paying a mortgage at home and rent on an apartment. It is assumed that if the traveler is working outside of 50 miles that they are going to duplicate expenses. But there is no hard and fast rule.
- Advantages of a housing stipend.
In today’s market, with access to resources like never before, it is recommended the travelers set up their own housing. This is for their benefit and there are multiple reasons. The first and most important, if they set up their own housing, they are much more likely to be happy with the outcome. What you and your traveler consider “nice” housing could be vastly different.
Second, if they set up their own housing and are able to find something a little cheaper, then they get to pocket that extra money for other expenses. If you are able to pay a $2000 housing stipend in Seattle, but find an apartment for them for $1800, you’ll likely need to roll that extra $200 into their taxable hourly wages. If they set up their own housing, they will still get the original $2000 and put whatever amount towards housing as necessary.
Although it may be a little more stressful on them to have to find housing, the financial reward for them may prove more beneficial. Offer to help them by looking for options with them or putting in a few phone calls to get them information.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…the only thing your traveler can get from your company that they can’t get ANYWHERE else, is YOU! When a traveler asks why they should travel with your company, this is not the time to overwhelm them with 47 features and benefits. This is the time for you to jump in and sell yourself! Try something like “my travelers always love that I am x,y,z” or “I always appreciate ‘x,y,z’ in others, so I try to do that for my travelers.”
- Guaranteed hours/Cancellation policy.
Good lord, please stop telling your travelers you guarantee hours!! It’s confusing and misleading! Yes, your company may very well guarantee hours, but if the hospital has a cancellation policy, this typically trumps your guaranteed hours. Please explain this to your travelers. Guaranteed hours and cancellation policies are usually at the hospitals discretion. Please know your company policies in regards to this topic!!
- Nursing licensure.
Please familiarize yourself with licensing in each states. I realize it’s time consuming. There are quick reference guides out there. Find one, and use it….or call us and we can send you one. Unfortunately, not being familiar with licensing processes can either result in missed opportunities for placement or worse, a delayed license and pushback on your travelers starts.
- Experience requirement.
The experience requirement to travel is an agency requirement, it isn’t an industry requirement. There are hospitals and agencies that will only work with travelers with a minimum of 2 years of experience, while others would consider travelers with 6-9 months. When a traveler asks, please share the information as it relates to your company, but also inform them that it varies by company. Will it make looking for a job more difficult, yes, but it is not impossible. Don’t discourage them-they may come back to you at 12-24 months!
I hope these questions and answers have been helpful for you today. If you have additional questions or need some resources, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com we’ll be happy to help.