Why Nurses Voluntarily Enter Temporary Work – SWR Aktuell

In many industries, temporary work is considered second-class work. For some nurses, however, it’s a way out of bad pay, weekend work, and overtime. This was reported by a nurse who works in Heilbronn.

His work is a matter of life and death, the stress level is often immense, but in the end the money is barely enough for the daily expenses. Nurse Simon earned € 1,700 net for a 40-hour week.

At one point he didn’t want to go on like this anymore – and made a decision: he resigned from his permanent position in the hospital and went to a temporary employment agency.

Physically demanding too: according to Simon, he covers about 14 kilometers in one service (symbol image)

radio image dpa

picture alliance / Philipp Schulze / dpa

Actually, Simon’s name is different. He wants to remain anonymous. Since he moved to a temporary agency, Simon has never worked in the same hospital for more than a year. He is currently on loan at the SLK Klinikum in Heilbronn.

“Once leased, always leased”

Temporary work: the word has a bad reputation. In many industries, temporary workers have disadvantages compared to the permanent workforce, for example, they earn less. In the healthcare industry, it’s the other way around in many ways: “Once leased, always leased,” says Simon. The 35-year-old thinks he never wants to work indefinitely again.

Because since Simon moved to the temporary employment agency, he works less and still earns a lot more. Simon’s working hours are also easier to plan today than when he was a permanent employee, he says.

“Recently, for example, the nursing effort for some patients on shift has been higher than usual. That means overtime, which you have to contend with as a permanent employee,” says Simon. “As a hired employee, I can still leave on time, I’m allowed to.”

“A permanent job is simply not worth it if you want to have a normal life.”

The management and appreciation at the temporary employment agency is also different than before in the hospital. If an assignment is further away, the company pays, for example, the fuel and hotel costs. “You get so many things you say, ‘Why should I still be a regular hospital worker?'”

flexibility required

Temporary worker status also has disadvantages. For example, Simon must be spatially flexible. His commute to work is currently around 50 kilometers each way.

He has to prove himself at every assignment and is not allowed to make mistakes. All in all, however, the advantages of temporary work outweigh the disadvantages for Simon.

Nurse walks through a door marked Emergency Room (Photo: picture-alliance / Report Services, Picture Alliance)

According to the German Hospital Society, at least 25,000 nursing positions cannot be filled

picture-alliance / reportage services

Alliance image

The shortage of nurses makes this possible

Simon is not an isolated case. According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, around 2.5% of all employees of the nursing service in hospitals in Germany “are not directly employed by the facility”. These are mostly leased workers, writes the German Hospital Society (DKG) on request.

Nurses can choose where to work because the job market has been wiped out. The DKG assumes that there are 25,000 nursing positions that cannot be filled at the moment.

Special requests are possible

More money, more appreciation, more participation in working time – Steffen Schüler also considers these the most important reasons for employees to switch to temporary work. Schüler is the managing director of Lumis Südwest GmbH, a South German temporary employment agency in the healthcare sector.

For example, if a nurse wants to work indefinitely at night or never wants to work on weekends, temporary employment agencies can make it possible. On the regular hospital list, however, things are different, Schüler said: “It is more difficult if you want to coordinate several hundred people and respond to the wishes of the individual.”

Clinics accept the terms of temporary employment agencies because they often have no other choice to make up for short absences, for example if someone falls ill or is immediately banned from work due to pregnancy.

SLK Clinics: Weber CEO wants a ban on temporary work

That’s why it’s not currently possible without hiring workers, says Thomas Weber, managing director of SLK-Kliniken Heilbronn. SLK clinics employ an average of 16 to 20 full-time employees each year. According to Weber, this corresponds to about one percent of the workforce. Depending on the professional group, a hired employee costs the Clinical Association 1.5 to 1.7 times more than a permanent employee.

SLK CEO Thomas Weber would therefore be in favor of banning temporary work under treatment. He hoped that employees would go back to hospitals and that hospitals would have more “internal control options” in staff planning.

Thomas Weber, new managing director of SLK-Kliniken Heilbronn (Photo: press office, SLK-Kliniken)

Thomas Weber, managing director of SLK Heilbronn clinics

Press office

SLK clinics

In 2020, the state of Berlin presented the Bundesrat with an initiative to limit temporary work in care. However, according to a Federal Council spokesperson, the project has not progressed since then. It is not clear whether a law will ever emerge from the initiative.

The problem can only be solved in the long term by multiple staff, writes the German Hospital Society upon request on the subject. “To do this, politicians, insurance companies and, of course, hospitals must improve working conditions and also pay good salaries and, above all, finance them,” writes a DKG speaker.

SLK clinics are hoping for an indoor spring pool

In order to be able to manage in the future without temporary workers, in recent years the SLK clinics have started to set up an internal pool of volunteers.

With a higher salary, the clinic management wants to motivate employees to change work areas on short notice whenever necessary. According to Weber, the goal is 30 members for the pool. So far, however, only half have participated.

SLK participates in the temporary employment agency

As long as the SLK clinics cannot make it without hiring workers, they will invest themselves in a temporary employment agency: the clinical association, together with other hospitals in Baden-Württemberg, is one of the shareholders of the temporary employment agency Lumis Südwest GmbH.

At first glance, it sounds paradoxical. Why are SLK clinics involved in a form of work that they actually want to abolish?

SLK Klinikum warning sign (Photo: SWR)

A pool of volunteers was set up at the SLK clinics


No sales tax, lower costs

There are two main reasons for this, says SLK CEO Thomas Weber. On the one hand, the management of the clinic hopes that participation in Lumis Südwest GmbH will result in greater reliability and quality, as well as faster availability of hired staff. Because Lumis Südwest GmbH hires temporary staff exclusively from the ten hospitals in Baden-Württemberg that are co-partners of the company.

The second reason: If the temporary work takes place within the group of companies, SLK clinics don’t have to pay sales tax, according to Weber. “And of course we don’t use the profit margins that leasing companies have internally.” This is intended to reduce the cost factor for leased workers.

The nurse wants to stay in a temporary job

Nurse Simon is certain that she will remain in a temporary job for the time being.

The other day he once again attended an interview for a permanent position in a hospital. “But the salary was too ridiculous,” says Simon. “As long as nothing changes, I will probably never work permanently again.”

Leave a Comment