NO LUNCH??? NO BREAKS??? Is that common in nursing?????

  1. Hi everyone!

    This topic has been bothering me a lot lately. I would love to know your thoughts and experiences! I am a new RN working on a cardiac unit. Since I have been on this floor, I have observed and experienced first hand how many of the nurses do NOT get a break during their 8 and 12 hour shifts. If we do take a break, we have to find someone on the floor who can cover our typically 4-5 patients. Our charge nurses do NOT cover lunches and our parent shifters are not used for this, either. There have been many days when I went home after working 13 plus hours and not sitting down once or being able to use the bathroom.

    Is this COMMON in the nursing profession? According to wage and hour federal laws, we are entitled to a break.

    This frustrates me as I think we are all entitled to some time away and I do not feel it is our responsibility to find our own coverage.

    What are you guys finding out in the nursing community? Do you swipe a "no lunch?" Is this even SAFE? Technically, this employer is violating wage and hour laws by not freeing the nurses up for a break.

    Please share your thoughts and experiences with me. I think this practice is wrong and I would like to implement change...I just do not know how.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. Visit CleveRN2008 profile page

    About CleveRN2008

    Joined: May '08; Posts: 33; Likes: 51


  3. by   jmgrn65
    It happens occasionaly, but it shouldn't be happening everday. Something is not right with that.
  4. by   Fiona59
    No way. Our unions would pitch a fit. We cover each other and are assigned first or second break. If we are slammed and we miss a break, we submit a voucher and are paid double time for the missed meal break.

    Uh, go to the toilet. No way would my bladder last 13 hours. UTI? Kidney Stones?
  5. by   BradleyRN
    It certainly is common. That is, unless youre in California. Out there they have ratios (on your unit you could have no more than 4 pts ever). Thanks to those ratios they are not allowed to cover each other for lunch or they would go over the ratio for those 30 min. So they have special nurses that come in just to relieve the others for their lunches, and thus, they get their lunch breaks every single shift. It's like a different country in California for nurses. In the rest of this country, you eat as you work many times, if at all, even though it's a 12 hour shift. We dont have such vocal nurses who demand their rights. They just take it lying down like good little downtrodden employees. :spin:
    Last edit by BradleyRN on Feb 22, '09
  6. by   CleveRN2008
    Thanks for your thoughts, guys. Yeah, I definitely believe that this is a HUGE HUGE problem since the majority of my floor has to skip lunches due to patient volume and work load. I suppose that is why unions can positively impact nursing. If we swipe a "no lunch"... we often get a reprimanding about it. If they are so worried about us not having a lunch, who don't our charge nurses and managers come and relieve staff for lunches? Instead, they sit in their offices and do not get involved in hands on care. FRUSTRATING.
  7. by   suanna
    To clock out -"no break" we are required to notify the supervisor during the shift that we will be unable to break, give adequate (in her opinion) reason why and fill out appropriate forms when asked to document that the "no break" was approved. I will spend my entire break arranging to clock out "no break". Not to mention, if you do clock out "no lunch/no break" it will end up in your evaluation as evidence of poor time management- "subject to progressive discipline including suspension of dismissal". The end result 90% of the time we do take a break/lunch, but 85% of the time it is on the unit , managing our patients, and answering the phone, charting our VS...
    Leave the unit for 30-60min- not once in 20 years. Don't ya love Nursing?!
  8. by   LilyBlue
    I don't get a break, but I get disciplined if we clock punch "no meal" so what I do is essentially work for 30 minutes for free. It's wrong, and yes, it is illegal, but I know I can't change it and keep my job.
  9. by   HM2VikingRN
    Working without breaks is a sign of poor management. No one should work for free or without lunch. I would keep data on the number of no break shifts. After 2 months turn the data into state wage and hour investigators. Rolling over and taking it is wrong both for you and your coworkers.
  10. by   Valerie Salva
    I have worked a number of nursing jobs where it has been impossible to take a break- no matter how organized you are or how hard and fast you work one thing after another comes up and you can't do it.
    I worked one job in which I only took maybe 4 or 5 lunches in the course of two years of working there.
    In some units, the "no breaks" thing is so ingrained into the culture of the unit that anyone who attempts to take a break is viewed as a slacker.
  11. by   Orenda
    I have the same question as you too. I worked at Wal-mart and Home Depot while going to nursing school and my supervisors said you have to take a 15 minutes break for every four hours you are working. If the employee is not taking the break, the company can be fined for not letting their employees taking break. I wonder why nurses working 12 hours shift is only allow 30 minutes break and that's it. Is the rule different for hospital compared to retail businesses?
  12. by   Babs0512
    Unfortunately, it is very common. Especially in non-unionized hospitals. I work in such a place. I use to work 12 hour shifts in the ER, 90% of the time, without meal breaks. I work PACU now. 8 hour shifts. It happens at least 2 -3 times per week. It happened Friday.

    No one to complain too, just the way it is. We are NOT valued, we are replaceable. There isn't a nursing shortage around here.

    Think twice about nursing as a career, I wish I had.

  13. by   Riseupandnurse
    Why CERTAINLY we can take a break. But if we do, there is nobody to take care of our patients because we are always stretched to the max. In additiion, the one to two hours overshift everyone has to put in to finish their paperwork will expand by the time spent on the break, so you can count on going home even later. Who needs that? I never take a break on the floor, and certainly not a lunch period, unless you count shoving a sandwich in with one hand while charting with the other. And OF COURSE I could put in for no time off, if I wanted to hear about it in evaluations. No thanks.
  14. by   suanna
    Quote from Babs0512
    Unfortunately, it is very common. Especially in non-unionized hospitals......
    I work for a unionized hospital and in the last contract we negotiated 4-15min breaks(up from 3) and a 30min lunch for all 12hr shift RNs. Unfortunately the union cannot find a way of forcing the hospital to provide staff to cover these breaks. They may as well have gotten the hospital to agree to 2-15min breaks every hour- why not, as long as they don't have to provide staff to provide relief.