August 30, 2023

Holiday Pay for Travel Nurses and Allied Travelers

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There are many changes you’ll encounter when becoming a healthcare traveler, including how holiday pay works for you. While you were perm staff, you may have received a premium rate for working a holiday, but that’s not always the case as a traveler. Your payment for these days depends on the facility, which holidays they recognize for travelers, and what is written in your allied traveler or travel nurse contract.

At TNAA, we believe in full transparency. We want to explain how holiday pay works so that you know what to expect with your paycheck when a holiday occurs.

How Overtime and Holiday Pay Work

Real quick, let’s explain a term you’ll often see in this blog – ‘regular hours.’ If you receive premium pay (a pay rate higher than the hourly rate established in your contract) for the time you’ve spent at work, that time doesn’t count toward your ‘regular hours’ of work in a week. For example, call-back hours paid at premium rates don’t count as regular work hours. The only exception to this rule is a shift differential when you might be paid a little more for working at night or on the weekend. Shift differentials are counted toward your regular hours of work. Now that we’ve explained that, we’ll dive into government rules and guidelines.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that all employees (unless exempt) must be paid a multiplier of at least 1.5x their regular pay rate for overtime hours. Most states consider anything over 40 ‘regular hours’ a week to be overtime.* This means any time you’ve worked at a premium pay rate does not apply as ‘regular hours’, and therefore, doesn’t count toward your overtime for the week. Additionally, each employer must establish its set workweek. While TNAA’s workweek runs Sunday through Saturday, a small number of client facilities require us to follow their workweek on a contract instead.

The FLSA doesn’t require premium pay for work on holidays. As a TNAA traveler, the holiday pay rate and whether the holiday is recognized for travelers depends entirely on the client facility, and each facility is different. Some facilities don’t have a holiday pay provision for travelers, and others recognize certain state holidays not observed elsewhere. If the facility acknowledges a holiday for travelers, you’ll get the premium pay rate for those hours worked. But remember, these hours worked at premium pay won’t count toward your overtime hours for the week. You will get the regular pay rate if the facility doesn’t recognize the holiday.

It’s also important to note that holiday hours aren’t always confined to a single 24-hour period. Depending on your contract and facility, recognized holiday hours can vary. Be sure to check your contract for specifics on observed holiday hours and covered holidays so you know what to expect.

How do you know which holidays are recognized? You’ll find the established workweek, regular pay rate, premium pay rate, and recognized holidays in your contract. Be sure to read over your contract for each assignment carefully!

Holiday Scenarios

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Let’s say there is a holiday approaching on Monday, and the facility recognizes TNAA’s workweek of Sunday through Saturday. Here are some common scenarios that you could encounter.

If the hospital recognizes the holiday

Scenario 1: We’ll call this the baseline case. You work 12-hour shifts on Monday (the holiday), Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. You would get paid for 12 holiday hours and 36 regular hours worked. This is because the holiday hours you worked at the premium rate don’t count toward your ‘regular hours’ for the week.

Scenario 2: You work 12-hour shifts on Monday (the holiday), Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. You would get paid for 40 regular hours and 20 hours of either holiday or overtime hours (whichever pay rate is higher – the premium pay rates don’t stack).

If a hospital doesn’t recognize the holiday

Scenario 1: You work 12-hour shifts on Monday (a holiday), Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Since the facility doesn’t recognize the holiday, you get paid 40 regular hours and 8 hours of overtime.

Scenario 2: You work 12-hour shifts on Monday (a holiday), Tuesday, and Thursday. You get paid for 36 hours worked.

Holidays are a special time. While some travelers don’t mind picking up a holiday shift, others would rather spend extra time with their loved ones. Understanding how holiday pay works as a healthcare traveler can help you make the best decision for your situation.

If you have questions about what holidays are recognized for your assignment, just ask your recruiter.

*Some areas of the U.S. have daily overtime laws as well. Check out this resource for a quick guide to overtime laws by state.