By February 29, 2012 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Do I Have to Accept a Contract Extension?


Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

Hi David. I’m finishing up my first travel contract. I was offered an extension. However, I am unable to take the extension. I have not signed the new extension rider/contract. I have only emailed my recruiter working out the dates and pay for the extension, but I have yet to sign anything. I will successfully complete the terms of my current assignment this Saturday. My recruiter is telling me that if I don’t take the extension that it’s a breach of contract and that they will charge me a fee. Is this legal? What do you know about this practice?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

I must first state emphatically that I am NOT an attorney and the advice I give is simply my interpretation of how I might handle a similar situation. When you start delving into legal matters, I would always suggest hiring a legal professional.

The situation at hand seems straight forward, but may be complicated if you indicated at any time that you were taking the extension. But first, let’s start with what was written in your email.

From what you have told me, I would wonder how you could possibly be in breach of a contract where there is none? Now this certainly depends about which contract they are speaking, but if they mean the separate extension contract, it does not appear as if there was one. It’s possible that they mean the existing contract under which you were working. Does that contract mention anything about extensions? It’s possible that a single sentence like, “Any offering of an assignment extension must be accepted maintaining the conditions of this document”, would essentially mean that yes, you are breaching your contract. It is not common to see such language, but with all the different companies out there, it is entirely possible that a travel company could hold you to taking extensions if they are offered.

Now let’s assume that language is not present. The only other place where they might be in the right is if you verbally accepted the assignment before you signed the contract. In many states, a verbal contract can be a binding agreement. If you verbalized, or perhaps even just led them to believe that you were extending, it might be possible (depending on the law in that particular state), that they could have a case for breach of contract.

They would probably have to show damages, but if they assumed you were staying, that might not be hard to do if they were providing your housing (if they arranged to extend the lease on your apartment and then you cancel, they might have to break the lease and would probably be charged for doing so…that would be damages).

There are a few unknowns here, so please come back and post the outcome from this if you would.

Again, I’m sorry for the delay on this response and hope things did turn out for the best. Please update us all as to how it worked out.



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About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

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