How are we — nurses and healthcare providers — left wondering whether we will get paid during the current coronavirus pandemic?
We are in uncharted territory treading water, hoping we won’t drown.
Imagine returning from a trip, caring for a sick patient, or simply coming in contact with someone in the community and then be required to take a leave without pay.
This is the reality some healthcare workers are currently facing.
Nursing is an amazing profession, it’s stable and I absolutely love the financial security it offers. But did any of us see the possibility of an unpaid quarantine coming our way?
I always thought that if something like this came up I would either be eligible for sick pay or extended leave. But that’s not what I’m hearing from many nurses during this current crisis.
The reality is that Covid-19 is developing quickly and I fear employee compensation is potentially being overlooked. If you don’t know how your hospital plans to handle pay in the event of your quarantine, you need to ask. Hospital administrations are overwhelmed by the need for containment and they may not be thinking about how stressful financial uncertainty is for employees.
Over the course of the last few days, I’ve read and heard many stories about policies being sent out only to be changed the same or the next day. Some of you haven’t heard anything at all. It can be confusing and elevates an already tense situation.
Pay Uncertainty and the Coronavirus Pandemic
You deserve to know and understand the compensation plan in the event of a quarantine. Contact your manager, human resources, and your union. If your hospital is holding town hall meetings or “ask the CEO” sessions, bring your concerns there as well.
- If you’ve received a confusing plan, ask for clarification.
- If you don’t agree with a plan you’ve received, share your opinion.
- Don’t give up, the last thing I want you to do is to go to work every day with increasing financial uncertainty and stress.
Individual Financial Preparedness
Covid-19 is causing volatility in the stock market, if you haven’t looked at your current investments you may want to keep that blind eye approach. There is a fear we could be entering a recession, both the S&P and Dow entered bull market territory this week. But the reality is no one can predict a recession much like none of us can predict the extent of this current pandemic.
You may be married or in a partnership with someone who has a very real fear they will become redundant or laid off. If you currently have debt, any loss of income can be devastating.
There are steps you can take to help prevent lasting financial damage to you and your family.
- Build emergency savings
- Reassess your spending
- Keep the faith
Over the past few years, I’ve seen many social media posts asking if people really need emergency savings in cash when the stock market is doing so well. They felt like their money wasn’t doing anything for them. This moment is why you keep your savings in cash, you don’t know you’ve hit an emergency until it smacks you in the face.
Ideally, you need 3-6 months of living expenses (bare necessities!) sitting in an easy to access savings account. If you already have this you may want to consider adding more money over the coming weeks. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, having a healthy savings account can help with financial stress so you can focus on staying healthy.
If you have no savings it’s time to start. Human nature seems to dictate that we need a tragedy to convince us they are possible. Start putting as much cash as you can in a savings account until this current crisis is over.
Hopefully, you won’t need the money and you’ll be able to reassess your savings rate in the future. If you do need the money you’ll be glad you took steps early.
Assess Your Spending and Create a Budget
We make good money in the nursing profession which can allow us to shift financial gears quickly. It’s time to sit down and look at your spending, reassess your priorities, and possibly increase your savings rate.
Look over your income and your spending. Set realistic spending limits, track your purchases, and hold yourself accountable. It takes a few weeks to get the hang off it, but I promise it works.
What Do You Value Most During Times of Crisis?
My current goals are saving, supporting local business, and staying healthy. So how am I ensuring that I’m staying true to these values?
- Increasing the amount of cash I’m sending to my savings account every paycheck.
- Continuing to spend money that I normally would at local restaurants and coffee shops.
- Leaving the same tip on take-out as dine-in
- Getting outside and going on walks with my dog. Social distancing is lonely, my walks help me feel like I’m still part of my city.
Anything that doesn’t fit into these priorities gets a serious side-eye and most likely nixed from spending. It’s a short term sacrifice that you can readjust as things calm down.
Keep the Faith
Stock market volatility, job and food insecurity, and major health threats are a lot to have on your mind. Be patient with yourself, family, coworkers, and patients. It’s easy to talk about staying the course with your investments and money when things are going well, times like these take true will power.
Keep the lines of communication open with your work and family. Our healthcare community is amazingly supportive, It’s these relationships that will help us weather the current storm.