TNC_FAQ - Office of Nursing Services (ONS)
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Office of Nursing Services (ONS)

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TNC_FAQ

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Pay & Benefits

  • Are salaries comparable to the private sector with regards to experience and education?
    The Nurse Locality Pay System is based on comparable rates of pay in the local labor market area.
  • Do federal employee transfers still earn toward retirement (does intermittent time count toward retirement)?
    Federal employees that transfer into the TNC without a break in service will retain retirement benefits; however, retirement benefits will be prorated based on hours worked. External hires are not eligible for retirement.
  • Do federal employee transfers still get the matching for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)?
    Yes. Federal employees that transfer into the TNC without a break in service will retain TSP benefits. However, contributions to TSP may only be made via payroll deduction while in pay status. As such, you will not be able to contribute toward TSP during periods of non-pay status.
  • Does the RN working under the travel nurse corps program accumulate annual/sick leave?
    No. TNC RNs are temporary intermittent staff so they do not accumulate annual leave or sick leave.
  • If a facility closes for inclement weather or other natural disaster, how are TNC nurses compensated?
    As an intermittent employee if you do not work then you don’t get paid.
  • Do I receive sick time, vacation time or paid holidays?
    Federal intermittent employees are not entitled to paid vacation, sick leave, or holidays. TNC RNs receive holiday pay differential if worked, in accordance with VA pay regulations.
  • Will I get to keep my already accumulated sick/annual leave?
    You will maintain any accumulated sick leave in storage until you retire.
  • Will I continue to receive my health insurance and dental benefits?
    Yes. If you accumulate 365 days of non-pay you will lose your health benefits.
  • For nurses in TNC, do they still get their nursing steps every 2 years?
    Step Increases are generally automatic after completing the mandatory days worked of either 260 or 520. This is actual days worked. If you transferred from another VA, we need to obtain your timecards and you only receive credit for days worked. TNC only goes up to step 12.
  • Can a TNC nurse get promoted?
    Yes. VA Central Office Nurse Professional Standards Board reviews TNC staff for promotion and probationary review. The board will determine promotion if dimensions of practice and education is met. TNC does not write any education waivers.
  • You mentioned that whatever grade and step the nurse is, it will remain the same with TNC. Just to confirm the salary will go by the salary scale you sent, correct?
    Yes
  • >Is the annual cost of living raise included upon appointment renewal?
    All Federal employees receive the annual cost of living raise when approved by the president.

Assignments & Temporary Appointment

  • I read this is an "intermittent" appointment (for 1 year). What happens after that?
    Extension (Retention) is based on the needs of the program. If you will not be extended you will be notified 30 days before expiration of your appointment.
  • How are assignments selected?
    Your first assignment and one assignment per appointment year can be selected for you. Twice a month our program specialist sends out available assignments and you will respond with your top three. Your top three are taken into consideration and reviewed against the needs of the program.
  • Can a facility request my services for consecutive assignments?
    Yes. Extensions at an assignment location may be approved based on the needs of the program. A traveler will not be allowed to stay more than 10 months due to the tax implications. You may return to the same location after a 7-month waiting period.
  • I thought I read in the contract that we had to do one contract per year.
    TNC employees are not considered “contract” employees. TNC Nurses are placed on a temporary intermittent appointment of 1 year. During that year the nurse must complete at minimum 2 travel assignments. TNC Nurses with benefits (health, TSP, retirement) are asked to complete 3 travel assignments. Appointments are reviewed prior to expiration and extended based on the needs of the program.
  • Is time off authorized “between” & “during” assignments?
    TNC RNs may take time off between assignments. TNC RNs are intermittent employees who are not permitted to work more than 1872 hours per calendar year, this is approximately 10 months.
    TNC RNs may take time off during assignments. Time off during assignment is subject to pre-approval by the assignment facility. TNC RNs must request the time off when they submit their request for a new 13-week assignment. All other time off will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • After assignment completion will you be considered a displaced employee, or will there be a period of reassignment?
    Most staff preplan their follow up assignments. When you are not working you are in a non-pay status but still considered a TNC employee.
  • What does training consist of for internal transfers?
    There is no clinical training for transfers. You will continue to provide the same type of patient care unless you are qualified to provide other types of care.
  • If I’m a new employee, how soon can I request my next assignment?
    You must work at least 60 days.
  • Do you start orientation at the specific assignment location?
    Orientation for new VA hires will be at the first assignment location.
  • How long is the orientation and does it count towards the 13 weeks?
    Orientation is generally one week. It is not part of your initial 13-week assignment.
  • If the minimum (13-week) contracts per year is 3 (if wanting health benefits), but the maximum hours I can work per year is 1872, this leaves 208 hours (or 6 weeks) unaccounted. Is this considered "dead time" meaning breaks between contracts, a week or two off between contracts, etc?
    TNC Nurses are not on “Contract” they are on travel “Assignments”. Assignments may be canceled at any time. Some nurses choose to work with other travel agencies during this time. For example, they take 2 back-to-back assignments with us then 2 with another agency. Some just take time off.
  • Does the 1872 hours MAX include any OT I may be asked to work?
    Yes
  • Are we able to accept a permanent position at an assignment?
    TNC employees are not under any contract, they are welcomed to apply and accept permanent placement at any VA facility at any time.

Travel Lodging & Per Diem

  • What type of lodging does the VA Travel Nurse Corps Program provide?
    You may choose the type of lodging that best suits your needs in accordance with VA travel regulations. Depending on your location, you may choose from hotels, extended stay suites, or one-bedroom apartments. Lodging sites must accept the VA government rates and VA travel card. We will work with you on your lodging needs.
  • Can I drive my RV?
    Yes. Some travelers elect to use RVs.
  • What is the breakdown of lodging, meals, and transportation?
    Your lodging and per diem is based on the General Services Administration rate for long-term travel at the assigned location: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877
  • Can I travel with my pets?
    Pet Fees & Airfare Cost for Pets is an out of pocket cost & the traveler’s responsibility. Any charges must be placed on personal credit card.
  • Are housing, food, and travel expenses included in the hourly salary or separate?
    Separate. Your salary is paid biweekly the Friday following the close of the pay period. Travelers receive a government credit card for lodging and authorized expenses. Reimbursement for Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) is approximately $35 a day (reduced for long term lodging). This reimbursement is done monthly by voucher. Each employee completes a travel expenditure voucher each month to pay off their lodging and other travel related charges on the government credit card.
  • Do we get tax-free stipends?
    M&IE is non-taxable
  • Are cabs, Uber, and Lyft included with transportation reimbursement?
    Cab, Uber and Lyft from airport to lodging is reimbursable in your voucher with receipt.

Additional Travel Notes

  • Travel pay is paid separate from hourly pay. The VA Form 10091 is used to set-up your travel profile in the CONCUR/CGE System.
  • TNC Per-diem (Meals) is based at 55% (13 week/90 day tours); Breakdown: If the meal rate for the area is $76 you will only receive $41.80 per day.
  • First & Last day of per-diem (meals) is base at 75% ; Breakdown: If the meal rate for the area is $76 you will only receive $57 on first & last day of travel.
  • The TRAVEL TEAM will provide the lodging information when tour has been confirmed. Two types of acceptable lodging: HOTEL (base on CONCUR Reservation System) or CORPORATE LEASE HOUSING (to be discuss during travel training).
  • If a government vehicle (GOV) is authorized an available at the tour location, a rental car will not be authorized. If a traveler declines the use of GOV and decides to use their privately owned vehicle (POV), the facility can reduce the mileage rate and/or deny any local commuting (lodging to VAMC duty station) mileage reimbursement.
  • If traveler decides to drive instead of fly to a location a cost comparison calculation will determine what is most advantageous to the government for reimbursement.
  • Airfare is based on Home of Record Stateside/CONUS address that is on file with HR.
  • Once you have been accepted into the TNC program all require Travel and IBA (US BANK Government Credit Card Program) train1ing will be schedule and provided. Training will cover travel authorization (TA), use of the IBA card, and the voucher process.