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Employment agreements..Is this atypical?

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by Diana Prince, May 11, 2017.

  1. Diana Prince

    Diana Prince "Just the facts, ma'am" 2+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2015
    So, I was working with one group to negotiate a higher salary and coverage for moving expenses.
    The group returned the contract to me with the following changes (see below). Is this even legal to impose on an employee?
    Absences. The doctor shall schedule her absences no less than sixty (60) days in advance with the Group, with the understanding that will take no more than (4) weeks (20) business days) of absence per consecutive twelve (12) month period, which physician may use for vacation, sick or disability leave, continuing medical education, or for other personal purposes. If the doctor takes more than the allotted vacation and leave time then she will reimburse the Group in the amount of $1300.00 per day in excess of the allotted vacation and leave time. She will not be reimbursed if she chooses to use less than the 20 days of paid vacation and leave time. The 20 day allotment expires at the end of the consecutive twelve (12) month period and is not carried over to any following year. Unexpected absences due to illness, bereavement, family emergencies, acts of God, war and so forth may be considered as special circumstances by the Group and may be deliberated and adjusted by vote of a simple majority of the Partners of the Group on a case by case basis.
    They also deleted the clause which states that I am eligible for Family Medical Leave.
    Would you sign this contract? Thank you!
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  3. Thrombus

    Thrombus Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Residents are given better terms! Pathologist = commodity= bottle of eosin
    medgator likes this.
  4. Cellpathology

    Cellpathology 2+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2013
    Do NOT even consider responding to this pathetic offer.... DO NOT EVeN consider it
  5. Dave CX

    Dave CX

    Dec 21, 2016
    This is legal, but I wonder what got them so concerned about absences/vacation?
    Autopsy101 and DokterMom like this.
  6. DokterMom

    DokterMom 2+ Year Member

    Mar 1, 2013
    Sounds like they've been recently burned... My initial suspicion is that a female colleague had a difficult pregnancy that caused disruption for the practice group. I would absolutely not sign as is, and potentially not even if "fixed" to read -
    • The doctor shall schedule her planned absences no less than sixty (60) days in advance with the Group, with the understanding that will take no more than (4) weeks (20) business days) of absence per consecutive twelve (12) month period, which physician may use for vacation, sick or disability leave,
    • Change "Reimburse the practice" to that additional leave for sickness or disability shall be unpaid (that's fair)
    • Carry over vacation up to 40 business days
    • Delete the whole "Unexpected absences may be considered" BS
    If you actually do plan to become pregnant in the near future, I'd avoid this particular job at all costs since that appears to me to be exactly what they're arming themselves against.
  7. pathslides


    Aug 7, 2016
    It does seem strict. But if a vacation day is 1300 bucks for you I assume your salary must be ~$360,000. Who cares about being a commodity at that starting salary, cuz That's pretty good. If you don't have other job offers and are not planning to have a kid, just work there for the good money and get your experience and peace out later when something better comes. But get a contract law lawyer to read over and make changes if possible.
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  8. gbwillner

    gbwillner Pastafarian Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member


    But don't accept terms you cannot live with. Make sure you have a contract lawyer review this on your behalf. This is a negotiation, after all.

    Good luck.
  9. pathslides


    Aug 7, 2016
    Extrapolating form her vacation payment of $1,300, how is a salary of ~360,000 a pathetic offer? You are way too harsh, which is easy to do when it is not your job offer.
  10. icpshootyz

    icpshootyz 7+ Year Member

    Sep 17, 2009
    We don't know that the $1300 extrapolates to any specific salary. That's likely just the cost of hiring a locums during her absence. We pay $1400/day for locums, so $1300 would be within the norm. But we certainly don't start people off at $360K just because a locums makes $1400/day.
    coroner likes this.
  11. Cellpathology

    Cellpathology 2+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2013
    LOL you think because they charge her 1300 bucks for taking an extra day that they pay her that per day? They could be double charging her for it and therefore her starting salary is 180K...fact is you have no idea what her salary is and I bet you 100 bucks it isn't 360k
  12. Cellpathology

    Cellpathology 2+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2013
    The primary concern here is the fact that they ADDED these things to this contract which one can hardly imagine wouldn't have been in the contract already.......One must assume the conversations they had with the applicant leading up to this prompted them to add these clauses to the contract.......that being said who the hell wants to plan vacation days 2 months in advance? At my job I can request days off up until the day before the schedule is made (and the schedule is made like two days before the month begins)........ also, who wants 20 days for EVERYTHING? (CME, vaca, sick, etc)......this is the worst vacation package for a physician I have seen to be honest mine was pretty bad as well but this is worse... I was able to do something about I am quite concerned that this is a counter offer and this is the best they could do? 20 days is CRAP.......keep looking for another job.... this really just tells me the upper guys are A-holes......FIND ANOTHER JOB!!!
  13. Dave CX

    Dave CX

    Dec 21, 2016
    I seriously doubt that this contract change came out of the blue. Did you reference something eg "my mom is sick in another state etc...". You must have said something that prompted this defensive action.
  14. pathslides


    Aug 7, 2016
    Ok that makes sense. At my practice we all make more per day/or the same than what we pay a locums per day (even new hires - the practice believes if you pay people crappy you will get crappy people who will leave or suck), it's why I made that assumption.
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  15. pathstudent

    pathstudent Sound Kapital 10+ Year Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    That sounds like a BS clause to me. I'd walk unless you were desperate to live in there city and there were no other options. 4 weeks vacation? We get 12. And we give new employees 4 their first 6 months then 12 per year after that.
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  16. yaah

    yaah Boring Administrator Physician 10+ Year Member

    The terms are a little different but many groups have basiclaly similar conditions, albeit not as restrictive.
    Scheduling vacations that far in advance is a little unusual. In our group, we have a set number of people who can be off each day (which can vary depending on who is off and what they do). We don't have any restrictions other than "don't sign up for more than 2 weeks off at a time without approval from the group" and "don't sign up for more than 10 work days during the summer months unless it is within the month of the day and spots are still available" (this is to prevent people from getting boxed out of summer or others taking all their vacation in the summer). We also have rules about high-request vacation weeks (like christmas week, school vacation weeks) and not taking the same week off two years in a row. But if there are vacation spots available 2 weeks from now we can sign up. It's harder to take days off once our schedule is made (we make it weekly, about 10 days in advance) but if you find coverage for your duties it's not a problem.

    20 days is not that much. I have no idea what "standard" is but that is probably the floor for most groups. I typically hear about 25-30 vacation days as being more standard, with the extreme being 60 days without losing compensation. We have 35. Some groups count CME days as vacation days, others have a separate category but require you to use them all, can't convert them to vacation. Our CME days are included as vacation days, but in our group policy at least 5 of our vacation days are supposed to be designated as CME days.

    In our group our pay is based on taking a certain number of days off. If you take more than that, that's fine, you just get proportionaly less income (x/number of work days in the year) in year-end reconciliations. If you take less than the number, you don't get paid more. So in a sense we have a "daily" charge for taking a day off if it is over the minimum number. Certain people get 2-3 more vacation days a year for doing certain duties. I cover heme, which means occasional weekend days, so I get an "extra" 3 vacation days a year. I also got an extra day for doing an offsite CAP inspection, and the group leadership gets extra days due to increased administrative duties.

    Deleting the family medical leave aspect seems petty and obnoxious. I am not sure that is legal, but it probably is "technically" legal based on what they are classifying your position as. They probably call you an independent contractor or something. I think that is a sign of greed and lack of respect, but a lot of private groups really don't give a crap about this and just want to maximize their income.

    I suspect you have different rules in your group for partners and non-partners. Our group has the same rules for everyone, although new hires are compensated less until they become partners. But everyone has the same number of vacation days, new hires aren't restricted from taking vacation days, etc. Days off due to illness still count as "vacation" days unless it is more than a certain number of days (maybe 3 consecutive? Can't remember) - that way you aren't "punished" for an extended absence like pregnancy or major surgery. Bereavement days don't count.
  17. coroner

    coroner Peace Sells...but who's buying? Physician 10+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2007
    22 Acacia Avenue
    To answer your the thread's question: Yes, it's highly atypical. I've been offered contracts for pp jobs before and never saw anything as outlandish as this.

    Would I sign the contract: Depends on how bad I wanted the job. The best way to determine this is to ask yourself the following two questions: 1) Is 4 weeks of vacation under these stringent circumstances worth everything else this position can offer you e.g. salary, ideal geographic location, hours/workload, etc? 2) Do you have any prospects that are equal or better including your current position?

    This group sounds like a bunch of tightwads. So I'd be hesitant to work with people with this kind of attitude in the first place. Unless they really want to sign you there might not be much room to negotiate, but you can try. If this is considered a desirable job, they're well aware that they have leverage. Remember, this is a buyer's market. Refusal to accept their terms may mean they'll just find some sucker who will...
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
  18. becausepath


    Feb 8, 2017
    pretty sure I interviewed there.....

    I RAN AS FAST AS I COULD... too many red flags on interview day.
  19. Euchromatin

    Euchromatin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 15, 2009
    I've interviewed at 5 places in the U.S. and Canada in the last 2 1/2 years or so. Only one of the places I interviewed offered only 4 weeks total time off (vaca + CME + sick time) to start, which increased the second year. That particular job was also in a highly desirable location and had some other benefits which were better than usual (particularly the retirement plan). All of the other positions offered at least 8 weeks total time off to start.

    I don't think having to schedule vacation in advance is a big deal. My group plans an entire calendar year's worth of vacations at one meeting, although they are reasonably flexible about having to take a random sick day or swapping days/weeks if something comes up as long as services are covered/not too many people are off already.

    I don't think physician positions typically qualify for FML (we're not hourly), so that doesn't seem out of the ordinary to me. Vacation days not rolling over to the next year is also pretty standard.

    Our group does calculate the value of a work day, but it is only used to adjust the relative proportion of bonus money allotted to each partner based on the amount of vacation they took beyond the minimum number of weeks (sounds similar to what yaah mentioned above). I have never heard of any group stipulating that an employee/non-partner would have to pay the group if they take more than the allotted time off in the fashion you describe. That is a huge red flag and I would do everything I could to eliminate that particular element if possible. It is sadly pretty common for groups not to offer maternity/extended sick leave, but at that point one would usually just go on unpaid leave (+/- short term disability depending on how long the leave is and the disability insurance policy). Not sure if they were burned before or just trying to preemptively cover their asses, but they clearly seem to be very concerned about coverage during a pregnancy or some other longer term issue.

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