Updated: May 23
“I found your resume and see that you are interested in becoming a member of the [insert company here] team! We have an amazing benefits package for you!” ~*~*CONGRATS!!!*~*~ Now CALM DOWN and get ready to ask a lot of questions! I KNOW that you were just offered a job that feels like your dream position! Put your heart to the side for a few minutes so I can share some of the mistakes I have made in the past when accepting a job. Let’s look at some hypothetical offerings and some of the questions that should be running through your mind when you get that big offer. Weeks Paid Time Off – Wow! That’s amazing! What’s The Catch? To be clear, 5 weeks x 5 business days per week = 25 paid days off. • This may include your sick time, personal time, vacation time, and holiday time all lumped into “PTO time”! So sneaky….! • If you are in a position where you generate your own caseload (typical in homecare) or the caseloads fluctuate (often in SNF), you may be FORCED into using your PTO because THEY can’t provide you with enough hours! • You may have “blackout” dates to using your so-called PTO (typical in SNF during CMI review periods and schools during the regular school year). • Snow days! I’ve been forced to use my PTO during 4 feet of snow days AND State-of-Emergency Blizzards (you absolutely SHOULD contest this with your company!) • “Only 2 therapists can be off at time” and other various rules can really make getting a full week off difficult. Additionally, rules that let those with more “seniority” get first dibs at all the GOOD days off often exist. (like your children’s spring break week or summer vacation days) There’s More! • Finally, if various rules make it difficult for you to use your PTO days…or you want to save them up for next year…what happens to those days? Some companies have a clause that says you must be paid for those days at the end of the year. Others adopt a “if you don’t use ‘em, you lose ‘em” policy. A majority of companies won’t pay you out for your unused days if you quit AND refuse to let you take any days off from the day you put your resignation in. • Other scenarios I’ve run into: Flex Holiday – I had to work Thanksgiving the first year that I became an employee and was provided with a flex holiday day that HAD to be used by the end of the year (AKA one month later) and THEN was told I couldn’t take days off during busy season!) (I CHOSE to be that employee that made a stink and was “granted” special permission to use my day by January 28) *eye roll* • You MIGHT think 5 weeks off per year isn’t too shabby! But if you are required to work 1 weekend per month you are working an additional 24 days per year. So that’s…260 work days, 20 days off, this equates to one day off every 13 days. Following me? So if you are working an additional 24 days per year, shouldn’t you be deserving of an additional 2 days off per year? “Competitive” Medical/Dental Insurance There are so many different aspects of insurance that the number one question on your list should be what the heck they consider “competitive”. You should NEVER take a job until you have looked through the SPECIFICS of the drug insurance that is being offered. I know most of us never do this. Some questions to ask yourself: • What benefits are included? (Dental, vision, prescription, any special services, and don’t forget prescriptions!) • What type of plans are offered? (As an OT, you should know the difference between an HMO, PPO, EPO) • Was I provided with the SPECIFICS the plans have to offer? Transparency is important! But it’s also important that you appear to be an informed candidate for employment. If you end up needing dental implants (~$4k) is any of it covered in the tiers of your dental plan? If you need surgery, will you be able to meet your deductible? • How much will I need to contribute monthly for the plan I would choose? You need to know the amount of the premium. You also need to know whether you will be charged a co-payment or a flat fee. I’ve been told “minimal” and later found out that they were taking $800 per month from me for crummy insurance. Don’t be like me! • What about deductibles? I highly encourage you to understand this. I missed my deductible once by $126.17 and ended up paying thousands and thousands of dollars out of pocket. It was one of those soul crushing moments in my life that I’ll never forget. • Can you keep your regular doctors? Unlimited Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) Is there a cost? I’ve had a company charge me $4.95 a month without asking for my permission! I then later found out when I logged on months later to start completing some of these courses that they weren’t education courses that would count towards keeping my licensure! Furthermore, when I didn’t complete a required course, I couldn’t clock in and work. You can’t make this stuff up!
Pro Tip: Remember that HR departments exist so that you can separate your personal life from your business life. What you discuss with your HR contact should be confidential (ie. “I have a pre-existing condition. Would I be covered?” or “Does your company offer maternity leave?” Reading the fine print and asking your HR department the right questions can help avoid surprises. The great thing about these questions, is that you can print this out and speak with human resources prior to taking the job and have them explain these things to you. They typically will give you the number of the local person whom handles their particular coverage plans. Take the time to start learning more about your plans, you’ll need it for yourself, and someday a patient will ask you about the billing system that you work under (insurance). You should have at least a basic understanding.
What type of benefits were you offered? Did you run into any “catches”? Leave your Comments below!