Overtime d/t short staffed

  1. Hi guys...
    looking for some advice here.
    So I am a RN and scheduled 3-12 hr shifts per week. This is what I was hired for. Recently, we are down 1 nurse and had an agency nurse coming but didn't show up so now everyone has been working extra shifts to cover. No updates on another agency nurse in the near future. Am I required to cover these shifts or can I refuse???? I only want my 3-12s or 72 hrs a pay period and honestly, my free time outside of the work is worth so much more to me than 1.5x pay. But I don't want my coworkers to take the blunt.

    Suggestions or thoughts? How can I approach my manager that I don't want to work overtime anymore??? We don't have a pool staff to pull from and we can't afford anyone being sick, etc.
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  2. 24 Comments

  3. by   LovingLife123
    They have to adequately staff your unit. People are going to call off. People get sick. Some people may like the OT, others do not. Don't feel bad about not working OT, I wouldn't. Just approach management and say I enjoy the hours I do work here, but unfortunately cannot work OT at this time. If nobody complains and just picks up the extra hours, it's no incentive for them to hire.
  4. by   NightNerd
    Don't feel bad! You have to look out for you. Some people want lots of OT, and some (you, and me for sure) are good with our 36 hours/week. That is okay. Of course you don't want to leave your coworkers hanging, but ultimately it's not your job to cover every shift. It doesn't need to be a huge conversation or confession; just don't sign up for extra shifts. If asked directly, "Sorry, I'm not available," is plenty.
  5. by   Meriwhen
    A while ago, I had this come up for myself, so I hightailed it to my BON website. There, I learned that I am NOT required to work overtime, that once my shift is over that I was entitled to leave provided I reported off to an appropriate provider (in my case, it was the nursing supervisor). My BON did NOT consider this to be patient abandonment, but rather an employment issue. And this BON did not interfere with employment issues.

    (Mind you, this is just 1 BON of 51, so your mileage may vary).

    Now, my job could have very well decided to sack me for refusing to stay over--I was in a Right to Work state and in a non-union facility, so I didn't really have a lot of protection had they decided to go that route. But if they had, the BON would not have interfered because it was...you guessed it, an employment issue.

    Check with YOUR BON to see their stand on forced/mandatory OT. Then weigh out the risks/benefits of turning down overtime, especially if you don't have a union or P&P in place to protect you. Maybe take it once in a while to show you're carrying your share of the burden...but do not feel obligated in any way to volunteer for every shift.

    And to turn it down, all you need to say is, "sorry, not available that day."
  6. by   nursing4321
    Thank you all for the advice so far!

    I guess my guilt was getting the best of me. I hate to "not be a team player" and have the burden transfer to my coworkers. We are a pretty small unit and a specialty at that so we try to help each other out as much as possible. And none of us really want the OT..
    Personally, I feel like management planned for this to happen. They know we will cover it so why pay a traveler??? I think I will go to my DON and tell her I will finish out this schedule but after that I am working my 72 hrs/pp and that is all. They don't offer any incentives besides OT (1.5x pay) after 80 hours....and in my opinion isn't worth it to me. If they are desperate enough maybe they will offer more.


    I appreciate all of your feedback! Thank you!
  7. by   Cvepo
    Check your contract/hospital/BON. Your guilt was vanish quickly, I assure you. My first year-ish of nursing, I would feel guilty every time I would call in. Until I realized that no one else gave a crap. Unless it is explicitly written about mandated OT, you are not obligated to do a thing. Halloween night in the MICU I used to work in, we had 11 nurses for 33 patients and this was with our nurse manager acting as the charge nurse that night. Literally every single nurse had a triple assignment (dangerously unsafe). We had 2 literally simultaneous codes in adjacent rooms, which is incredibly tough with little staff. We were left with bare bones, administration knew, but our contract (union) states NO MANDATORY OT, so we made the best of what we could. It was an awful night, but we got through it.
  8. by   Here.I.Stand
    Don't work any OT that you don't want to! It is not your job to staff the unit, and continuing to pick up sends the message to management that you are willing to solve their problem.
  9. by   Rose_Queen
    In addition to the BON, just google mandatory overtime law for your state- you may find that your state has legislation on the books. Mine does.

    There are at least 16 states with restrictions on mandatory overtime: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia. These restrictions range from limiting the number of work-hours an employer can require to prohibiting the practice of mandatory overtime in certain occupations. Some states also prohibit the use of mandatory overtime as a means to overcome staffing problems. If your state does not have any restrictions against overtime, then you may be required to work as many hours as your employer requests of you. - See more at: Forced Overtime and Mandatory Overtime | LegalMatch Law Library
    Source: Forced Overtime and Mandatory Overtime | LegalMatch Law Library
  10. by   amoLucia
    I think nurses would feel more open to staying over if they saw that adequate staffing was a concern to ALL nurses employed there helping out with staffing. That includes management, education, infection control, MDS, QA/QI, Restorative, etc.

    They have the same licenses just like the line staff. Besides a show of solidarity, it could also imbue a sense of 'reality orientation' to all those with the unrealistic demands upon that same working line staff.

    Yeah, I know. When pigs fly ...
  11. by   DeeAngel
    Make a phone call to the local newspaper and have a conversation, they're always interested in general interest stories like this.
  12. by   Daisy4RN
    Quote from Here.I.Stand
    Don't work any OT that you don't want to! It is not your job to staff the unit, and continuing to pick up sends the message to management that you are willing to solve their problem.
    Agree with this! It is not your job to staff the unit. It is one thing to ask to cover 1 shift, but when you keep doing it they have no reason to look for other solutions and usually won't. I would not do it unless I wanted to.
  13. by   fawnmarie
    Quote from DeeAngel
    Make a phone call to the local newspaper and have a conversation, they're always interested in general interest stories like this.
    I once worked in a facility that was chronically understaffed for years. This was a psychiatric facility where many of the patients had the potential to become violent. Periodically, an e-mail would be sent to staff with a list of vacant nursing and technician positions. Somehow, one vacancy list with 15 vacant RN positions and more than 20 vacant technician positions found its way to the local news channel (it was faxed by a burned-out employee who was tired of having to work mandatory overtime.) Once the low staffing became a news story, the facility scrambled to bring in agency staff to fill in the staffing gaps, before Joint Commission intervened.
  14. by   Meriwhen
    Quote from Rose_Queen
    In addition to the BON, just google mandatory overtime law for your state- you may find that your state has legislation on the books. Mine does.


    Source: Forced Overtime and Mandatory Overtime | LegalMatch Law Library
    And the state in which my above experience occurred isn't on that list...no surprise there

    OP: you will learn to get over the guilt quickly. You will also learn to let your phone screen calls so they can leave messages, and you will learn to respond via e-mail so they can't get you live on the line to try to guilt-trip you.

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