Maryland: Nurses push for law to ban mandatory OT

  1. From the January 25, 2002 print edition
    Baltimore Business Journal

    Health Care & Biotechnology

    Scott Graham
    The state's nurses once again are calling for the prohibition of involuntary overtime.

    Already stressed by long shifts, sicker patients and depleted staffs, nurses are calling for the state's elected officials to pass legislation that would prohibit hospitals from requiring them to work more than a specific number of hours each week. Similar legislation failed to pass last year.

    Some hospitals require some nurses to work as much as eight hours following a scheduled 12-hour shift.

    "That's just absurd," said Donna Dorsey, the director of the state's Board of Nursing who supports the bill. "So passing this bill would be a big step for us."

    But certainly not everyone is in favor of the proposed legislation. Cal Pierson, president of the Maryland Hospital Association, said his organization is opposed to the prohibition on involuntary overtime. The current shortage of nurses -- the vacancy rate for the state's hospitals is about 14 percent -- sometimes forces a hospital to have its nurses work overtime, Pierson said.

    Still, the two sides may be able to work out a compromise, Dorsey said. Maine passed similar legislation requiring hospitals to limit involuntary overtime to two hours.

    "There will be some tugging, but maybe not as much as last year," Dorsey said, referring to the impasse the legislation met during the 2001 legislative session.
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   -jt
    <<But certainly not everyone is in favor of the proposed legislation. Cal Pierson, president of the Maryland Hospital Association, said his organization is opposed to the prohibition on involuntary overtime. The current shortage of nurses -- the vacancy rate for the state's hospitals is about 14 percent -- sometimes forces a hospital to have its nurses work overtime, Pierson said.>>

    When are they going to get it straight?? If there was no such thing as mandatory OT, they might not have a staffing shortage.

    But as long as they continue to utilize mandatory OT, nurses will continue to avoid those facilities like the plague.

    As long as they have mandatory ot, they will have a staffing shortage.

    Nurses will work in facilities that do not practice forced overtime.
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 30, '02
  4. by   Stargazer
    NRSKaren & -jt: this issue is currently up for debate in the Washington State legislature, too, but I have been surfing the WSNA and Washington State gov't websites and even the website of the local TV station which announced this, and haven't been able to find much info.

    Horribly enough, the place where I found the most info was on the Washington State Hospital Association's website. WSHA is, of course, protesting the restriction of mandatory OT (and their offices are housed 2 floors below me in my own office building--grrr! Any and all sabotage suggestions welcomed. Okay, kidding. Okay, not really. But, you know. )

    Any suggestions on where I can find more info? I'm really surprised this is so hard to find on WSNA's site.
  5. by   -jt
    Contact the Washington State Nurses Assoc. (WSNA)
    http://www.WSNA.org
    Its their bill, based on the national bill submitted to Congress by the ANA & UAN in The Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act which is a bill, introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH), with more than 20 U.S. House of Representatives colleagues, and would strictly limit the use of mandatory overtime for nurses. Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.


    WSNA can tell you more about their state bill:

    You can send an email asking for more info to:
    wsna@wsna.org

    <<Washington state nurse union lobbies for mandatory overtime limits

    Washington State Nurses Association said today it was planning to gather nurses and nursing students in Olympia, WA, at a committee hearing on legislation to limit mandatory overtime. HB 2601 and SB 6675 would prohibit hospitals from requiring overtime in excess of an agreed upon, predetermined, regularly scheduled shift not to exceed 12 hours in a 24-hour period or 80 hours in a 14-day period, the union reported. The legislation would also bar employers from using refusal to work overtime as grounds for discipline or discharge, and includes an exception for unforeseen declared emergencies. The union says use of mandatory overtime drives nurses away from the profession and exacerbates the state's nursing shortage.>>
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 30, '02
  6. by   Stargazer
    Thanks, -jt. I guess I don't have any other choice, since this info is difficult-to-imposssible to find on WSNA's own website. I'll believe I'll ask them why that is.
  7. by   NRSKarenRN
    Stargazer:

    Perused wsna website and legislative info ssection...over 6 months old. Why not suggest to them a "Hot Topics" section for breaking news/legislation featuring most current info similar to what we have in PA. I appreciate our Communications Director Lori Anne Artz more each month as I see that she's the glue that keeps PSNA members updated....so I can inform the public here!

    Websites and member list-serves are an easy way to keep membership and the public current about nursing concerns.
  8. by   -jt
    Just visited WSNA website & it hasnt been updated in a while. Maybe you could include in your email a request that they do more frequent updates at least on their legislative page.

    And then write your legislators to pass that bill!

    Good luck.
  9. by   Stargazer
    Update-- I sent the following letter to WSNA:

    Good afternoon,

    I am trying to find out more information on the pending bills restricting mandatory OT. I have gone through your website and that of the WA State legislature and have been unable to find much. I was finally able to get THIS:
    Washington State Nurses Association said today it was planning to gather nurses and nursing students in Olympia, WA, at a committee hearing on legislation to limit mandatory overtime. HB 2601 and SB 6675 would prohibit hospitals from requiring overtime in excess of an agreed upon, predetermined, regularly scheduled shift not to exceed 12 hours in a 24-hour period or 80 hours in a 14-day period, the union reported. The legislation would also bar employers from using refusal to work overtime as grounds for discipline or discharge, and includes an exception for unforeseen declared emergencies. The union says use of mandatory overtime drives nurses away from the profession and exacerbates the state's nursing shortage.
    --from 2 online acquaintances from other states who are active in ANA at the local and state levels. When each of them went to your website to look for
    themselves, they were surprised to see that the legislative info had not been updated for quite some time. I'm sorry to say that I found much more info regarding these bills on the website for WSHA which, of course, opposes the legislation.

    I would appreciate your forwarding me or directing me to more info about these bills so I can write to the appropriate legislators urging their support. I would also like to suggest respecfully that your website is the best and fastest tool Washington State nurses have to learn about these issues and become involved, but it is hard work to rally people when crucial information is absent or just extremely difficult to find. If not for a brief mention on KOMO TV News 4, I would not be aware of this legislation at
    all.

    Thank you for your efforts to improve the working conditions of Washington State nurses.


    Here is the reply I got today:

    Thank you very much for writing. We are in the process of updating our website and will soon have information on our mandatory overtime legislation and other updates.

    You can find the text of our mandatory overtime legislation (HB 2601/SB 6675) at www.leg.wa.gov

    I've also attached a summary sheet of the legislation that you may find helpful. I very much encourage you to contact your legislators on this issue. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

    Anne Tan Piazza
    Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs and Media Relations
    Washington State Nurses Association

    The attachment she referred to contains WSNA's arguments against mandatory OT and this summary of the proposed legislation:
    This legislation would:

    $ Prohibit health care facilities from requiring an employee who provides direct patient care or clinical services to work overtime in excess of an agreed upon, predetermined, regularly scheduled shift not to exceed 12 hours in a 24 hour period or 80 hours in a 14 day period.
    $ Provide protection to nurses who refuse overtime by prohibiting employers from using the refusal as grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, threat of reports for discipline or any other penalty.
    $ Include an exception in the case of any unforeseen declared emergencies, when a health care facility's disaster plan is activated, or any other disaster/catastrophic event which increases the need for health care services.
    Well, at least they know now that some of us do notice that the info isn't getting disseminated to all nurses or the general public. I'm afraid WSNA doesn't have anyone to blame but itself if the legislation doesn't pass.

    Off to compose a letter to my legislators now. Thanks again, -jt and NRSKaren.

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