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RN's avatar

Can my employer pay me a lower wage when I request a transfer to another dept?

Asked by RN (9 points ) January 27th, 2013

I was working at a hospital in management as an RN when my position was eliminated due to budget cuts. I was told I could transfer to work as a staff RN in any dept. that had an opening. I transferred to ICU because I had been an ICU nurse ten years earlier, but no recent experience. They transferred me in at the top of the staff nurse pay scale.

Six months later an opening came up in the unit I wanted to work in, which was one in which I had no experience. I was offered the job at approx. $5.00/hr less; and was told it was due to my lack of experience, and that if I transferred in at my current wage rate, I would be making more than nurses who had worked in the dept. for many years.

Is this legal? To the best of my knowledge, other nurses in the hospital do not take a pay cut to move to a dept. they are inexperienced in.

This is a non-union hospital in California.

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11 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

It doesn’t sound illegal. If nurses in a particular department are willing to work for the lower wage (a wage that would make you, at your current wage, the highest-paid one there), then it is apparently legal for them to do that – or someone would likely have stopped the practice before now, right? – and it’s unlikely in the extreme that hospital management would want to start the sturm und drang that it would cause in the department to suddenly pay the least-experienced nurse in the group a wage that is higher than the most-experienced.

blueiiznh's avatar

I am not certain of any State Laws that may apply in your case, but jobs have grades and pay ranges.
I am certain this can occur when you change a job on your request or even if you are forced to in order to retain your job.
What is it that the expect?
The opposite happens when a person is in a grade so long that they top out (red circled) they dont even get a merit increase.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I am quite sure it is legal. It may not be ethical or nice, but the facts are that each job has certain requirements and standards (and pay scales). You changed jobs to something you were less qualified for.

Why didn’t you ask this question BEFORE you made the move?

BosM's avatar

Yes it is legal and as others have said it relates to market driven pay ranges which are based on the level of skill and experience required for this position in your job market.

Think about it, if you are working in a unit that requires more skill/experience like ICU and opt to work in a less stressful/less skilled unit they shouldn’t pay you the same because the market doesn’t demand it. To do so creates pay inequity for staff in that unit.

You can request to meet with Human Resources to review your compensation.

Judi's avatar

Do you have a Union? The only way it might be illegal is if it violates your union contract.

CWOTUS's avatar

Actually, @Judi, even work and wages assigned in contravention of a union contract is not necessarily “illegal”, unless it is also prohibited by statute or regulation. It’s only illegal if it’s illegal.

ragingloli's avatar

Only if you enter a new contract. The salary he owes you is specified in the employment contract.

zenvelo's avatar

Welcome to Fluther. Yes, it is okay for them to cut your pay, because you are moving from a highly skilled position to a lesser skilled one, and one in which you have no experience.

A comparison would be moving from being a highly trained arc welder working on delicate chemical processing vessels, to being a carpenter that makes concrete forms. There’d be no justification for paying welder wages to a carpenter with no experience.

seekingwolf's avatar

It is legal in the hospital that I work in. It happens to RNs as well as techs like me. I currently work a position that pays well and the work is good and varied. I keep getting badgered by ED staff to transfer to the ED. But I already know that if I did that, my hourly wage would decrease immediately and I would not get to have any control over my schedule anymore. Oh boy, sign me up! (no!)
RNs who work in the same department I do will sometimes transfer to a unit and will see a decrease in hourly wage based on their experience and where they are transferring to.

seekingwolf's avatar

I urge you to think of the overall pay decrease.

They said that if you transferred in at your current pay rate, you’d be making more than nurses who have worked there for a long time. That means, logically, even if you were to work on that unit for a long time, you would not see a pay rare that you are seeing NOW.

That is definitely something to consider.

Shippy's avatar

Check your contract with the new Dept. Most salaries can be negotiated. But in hard times not always easy. Doing freelance could be more lucrative. Since you will be paid per hour. Also filling in for those made redundent.

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