You’re headed on your next travel nursing assignment — and although you’ve worked many holidays as a staff nurse, it’s your first-time travel nursing during the holidays.
The questions, the apprehension, and even the slight sadness for missing holidays at home sinks in. Now, you’re wondering, “Is it worth my time to travel nurse over the holiday? Do travel nurses get holiday pay?”
If you’re stuck trying to decide whether working over a holiday is the right choice for you, or you’re looking for answers about holiday pay, keep reading.
We’re discussing whether travel nurses get holiday pay, how holiday pay works for travel nurses, and why you might just enjoy working during the holidays.
Table of Contents
- Do Travel Nurses Get Holiday Pay?
- What Is Considered a Holiday for a Travel Nurse?
- Do Travel Nurses Have to Work Holidays?
- 5 Benefits of Working the Holidays as a Travel Nurse
- Working the Holidays? Make the Most of Your Extra Pay!
- How Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help You Find the BEST Holiday Assignment
Do Travel Nurses Get Holiday Pay?
We know it’s not the direct answer you’re hoping for, but whether travel nurses get holiday pay depends on several things, including:
- What’s included in the contract you’ve negotiated; and
- What the facility you’re contracted with and your agency consider a holiday; and even
- The number of hours you’re working in a week
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require facilities to pay “premium” or “overtime” pay to employees unless they are working “40 regular hours” a week.
These hours will also depend on your work week. While your previous facility’s work week may have run Sunday-Saturday, your next assignment could run their workweek Saturday-Friday.
Generally speaking, if you are a travel nurse, you’re a contracted employee, and if you are not working the holiday, you will not be paid for the day.
What Is the Difference Between Holiday Pay and Vacation Pay?
It can be easily confused, especially while skimming contracts, but it’s a distinction that can be very important, especially since travel nurses typically do not get vacation pay — but they may get holiday pay.
Vacation pay means that you’re taking scheduled time off with pay. Holiday pay is when travel nurses make more per hour while working on a major holiday.
What Is Considered a Holiday for a Travel Nurse?
Whether a travel nurse will get holiday pay is also dependent on how holidays are defined by the facility they are working for on assignment.
For some facilities, federal holidays are considered holidays. These holidays include:
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr Day
- Presidents Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Indigenous Peoples’ Day
- Veterans’ Day
- Thanksgiving; and
Other facilities may only consider “major” holidays, like:
- New Year’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving; and
Whether travel nurses get holiday pay will not only depend on their contract, but also on which holidays the facility they are working for considers to be “paid” holidays.
If the Facility Recognizes the Holiday
You may be thinking, “Okay, but if the facility recognizes the holiday, shouldn’t I get paid for it if I’m working? Well, yes, but there are some stipulations, especially when it comes to your shift and what’s stated in your contract.
If you’re expecting to be paid holiday pay for holidays you could potentially be scheduled to work, it needs to be detailed in your contract with the facility.
Additionally, the actual date and hours that are considered a holiday may vary from agency to agency or facility to facility.
For example, some healthcare facilities consider Christmas Eve a holiday, although most facilities do not. If you’ve been a nurse for any amount of time, you may also already know that different facilities begin and end their holidays at different times. For example, if you work 7pm-7am, many facilities consider the night leading into the holiday to be the holiday worked.
If you’re scheduled to work 7am-7pm on New Year’s Eve leading into New Year’s Day, that would be considered your holiday worked.
Every facility is different, though, so it’s important that you understand and negotiate prior to signing your contract so you are clear on what shifts you are willing to work — and understand what you’ll be paid — on holidays.
If the Facility Doesn’t Recognize the Holiday
What do we mean? Some facilities, as we mentioned above, don’t honor all holidays.
Christmas Eve is a great example. Some facilities consider it a holiday, though most don’t. If you’re travel nursing with a facility that does not honor the holiday, you won’t get paid “holiday pay”.
Say, for example, you’re a nurse who works 12-hour shifts on Monday, Tuesday ( a holiday), Wednesday, and Saturday. If your facility doesn’t recognize the holiday, you may be getting paid 8 regular hours and 8 hours of overtime.
Another scenario? Let’s say you worked three 12s in the week of the holiday. Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. If each of those days falls in the same pay period, you’d be getting paid for the 36 hours you worked.
Do Travel Nurses Have To Work Holidays?
Whether travel nurses have to work holidays depends on several factors, two being:
- Your contract
- Your facility
If you’re a travel nurse working in a small community office, you may not be required to work holidays as the office may be closed. If you’re working at a hospital, chances are, unless your contract states otherwise, you may have to work some, possibly all, holidays within your assignment period.
The wonderful thing about travel nursing is its flexibility.
When searching for nursing assignments with your recruiter, you can pick and choose assignments that match your needs — some facilities may even offer specific holidays off.
Can Travel Nurses Request Holidays Off?
As a travel nurse, you may be able to request holidays off, but again, it depends on the conditions of your contract. Many hospitals, for example, have blackout periods where staff cannot request time off — contracted employees (travel nurses) included.
Before signing a contract for your next assignment, ask about their time off policies during the holidays.
This doesn’t mean you’ll have to work every holiday. Talk with your recruiter if you’re shying away from a specific contract because of the holiday requirements. Your recruiter can help you by trying to negotiate your contract to meet your needs.
5 Benefits of Working the Holidays as a Travel Nurse
One of the reasons you signed on to be a travel nurse — aside from once-in-a-lifetime opportunities — was so you could have flexibility and an increased work-life balance, especially during the holidays.
So, why would you want to work over the holidays as a travel nurse?
Many of our travel nurses find the following benefits enough reason to at least consider an assignment that requires working holidays.
#1: Better Assignments
During the holidays, hospital staff are more likely to take time off (when allowed) leaving many shifts open for travel nurses to cover during their assignments. The winter months can also lead to more call-offs and sick days for staff.
Shorter assignments are often available for this reason, giving travel nurses the upper hand in choosing the facility and location they want to work in, and they may even see a bump in the pay rates being offered.
Working as a travel nurse over the holidays also gives you a chance to advance your career by showcasing your skills and dedication in the field.
Since many nurses prefer not to work holidays, this is your time to shine. Show potential employers that you’re a team player and put the needs of your patients first.
#2: Choose Where You Want To Be for the Holidays
Are you longing for the mountains every winter but can’t justify taking time off for weeks at a time? Maybe you’re trying to get as far away from the cold as possible — you don’t have to be a senior to live the life of a snowbird.
Accepting assignments over the holidays may allow you to take assignments in locations you typically only dream of being over the holidays — all (living) expenses paid!
By taking a travel nursing assignment over the holidays, you don’t have to drain your savings — or mess up your budget — to enjoy a holiday away from home.
#3: Make More Money
Although this isn’t always the case, travel nurses who don’t mind working the holidays may be eligible or able to negotiate holiday pay. The extra money earned over the holidays can be very appealing, especially watching it add up.
Covering more shifts while other nurses are on vacation during the holidays? Cha-ching!
If the extra cash may influence your decision on whether you want to sign a contract that involves working over the holidays, discuss the holiday rates in detail with your recruiter and facility.
#4: Skip the Holidays Altogether
Maybe holidays just aren’t your thing — that’s okay! Is mom asking you to come to visit every Christmas? Maybe you can’t stand the idea of another family reunion over Labor Day.
Even if you’re trying to combat holiday blues after several sad ones, working as a travel nurse may be just what you need.
Give yourself a break from the blues — or Uncle Mike, who never stops talking about his cat — and spend that time making a difference in your patients’ lives.
#5: Memories Made
Although it’s not necessarily ideal, working as a travel nurse during holidays can be special, especially if you come on shift with an open mind and open heart. If you’re one of the chosen few who gets to work a holiday, try to consider the following about holiday shifts:
- You’re getting a chance to really bond and make connections with coworkers. While everyone is complaining about Carol who is excited to set up the ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ spirit day on Christmas, come morning, everyone gets a good chuckle from Dr. Brown’s homemade sweater. What may otherwise be a “boring” floor during the week just turned into a holly-jolly hall of healthcare workers and patients.
Maybe you’ll leave your assignment with a new group of friends thanks to the memories you made during the holidays working together.
- Connect with patients on a deeper level. Mr. Rodriguiz isn’t one for conversation. You’ve learned throughout your time at the facility that he just doesn’t like small talk. Until his favorite holiday arrives.
As he asks you about your Fourth of July plans, he’s instantly reminded of some of his favorite childhood memories. Before you know it, you’re laughing over a story he’s told and he’s thanking you for spending an extra 15 minutes with him on your shift. Those are the moments some healthcare workers live for.
Working the Holidays? Make the Most of Your Extra Pay!
Whether you’re happy about working the holidays or you’re feeling stuck, take the time to plan how you’re going to use the extra pay in a way that benefits you!
Still paying off student debt from nursing school? Consider throwing all of your extra holiday pay towards an additional monthly payment!
Who says you have to celebrate the holidays on the holidays? Use your extra pay to celebrate during the off-season!
Plan an outing with coworkers to celebrate the holiday after you’ve all been paid! A game of White Elephant, anyone?
How Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help You Find the BEST Holiday Assignment
Trusted Nurse Staffing understands that being a travel nurse is something many of our nurses are passionate about and we’re committed to helping our team of nurses find positions that work for their unique needs.
If you’re concerned about working — or not working — over the holidays, our recruiters can help you find positions and negotiate contracts to best suit you.
Whether you’re hoping to be close to home for the holidays or to spark a little joy in your patients over the holidays, we’re here to help.
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we value our relationships with each of our nurses, which is why we’re dedicated to helping you achieve your goals, ensure your growth, and find positions you’ll love!