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Mandatory overtime in nursing -I need your help


Hi everyone. Im a senior nursing student at Penn State, and I am doing a huge report on mandatory overtime. I need your help! What are your experiences with mandatory overtime? Has it affected your physical and mental health? Has it affected your family? Also, are your places of employment trying to reduce their usage? How are they doing this?

Your help would be greatly appreciated! THANK YOU!:kiss

mandatory ot should be abolished. many nurses, myself included, will not be pulled into this rubbish. i would never let anything get into the way of my family. i can't see any benefit in abusing my family and making them sacrifice because the health institution cannot afford to retain enough nurses or pay an agency. most institutions that have mandatory ot also have poor management.

Nurse Ratched, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

You might also do a search here for the term mandatory overtime as we have discussed it and I'm sure you'll find some great information. :)

As for myself, I would not and do not work in any facility that would require OT.

I *have* worked in facilities where they make a practice of hounding you hard to work extra, but I don't consider that "mandatory." Altho many people fold under the pressure, all it takes is repeated "no's" to make my position clear.

Too many times in my career I have been mandated to work overtime and found out later it was because the supervisor or NM/CN gave their buddy the shift off wo bothering to find coverage or even attempting to find coverage. Now I refuse to work at any hospital that mandates overtime. OT should be a choice and an unusual circumstance, not expected of staff. We all have those days when we have to take a little extra time to finish up, but I really attempt to get out on time . I want to be with my hubby or doing what I want to do in life. Hopefully, there will laws against this soon in all states, not just the more progressive ones.


Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg. Has 15 years experience.

I quit a recent job when during the interview I was promised no mandatory overtime, then was mandated in the first month. Mandatory overtime means simply that your employer controls your free time, and doesn't have to give you any notice to take it from you. Forget it!

We seldom use mandatory overtime. The only time I have had to do this with my staff (I'm a unit manager) is when too many of their coworkers call off and I can't find anyone to replace them. And yes, I have worked OT (without pay, after already working 50-55hrs for 40 hrs pay ) to cover these situations. But there are times when I want to be with my family too. Requiring a 24 hr a week person to work over 4 hours to cover call offs, when they will get time and a half, doesn't seem too bad to me, as long as organizations don't use this to make up for chronic short-staffing due to not hiring enough staff in the first place. And expecting nurses to work a double without notice is completely unacceptable (although many staff nurses feel that managers should do that). In that case, I can see why nurses refuse. I guess I'm fortunate; most of my nurses will work over, expecially since I'll often offer them a deal- work over tonight for another day off, etc.


Does your facility use agency staff? Do you call weekender's and ask if they would like a few extra hours? Do you make sure a nurse was not sent home or called off from another unit before checking to see if all floors have adequate coverage. Sure I know that sometimes the unexpected happens, but most managers just push the extra crap onto their staff. I am not impressed with you offer of another day off, night work often takes longer to recover from. Do you pay bonus on top of overtime and the extra day off? Now that is an offer that may get you staff.

We do not use weekender programs or agency. We do have some per diem nurses. And as I said, we seldom (very seldom) need to use mandatory overtime. Usually someone is looking to pick up extra time, my staff is wonderful about covering the unit. They seem OK with the "extra day off" offer. I think a few different things factor into their willingness to help: they know I'll work as staff if needed, I almost never turn down requests for time off or schedule changes, and our nurse/patient ratio is generally 1:4 or 5 on days, 1:5 or 6 on eves, and 1:6 on nights. Our department (critical care) is closed, as is the med-surg dept. Staff have the option whether or not to float out of the dept. Most of the nurses in both depts will float because they don't like having to take too many days off (unpaid or they burn up their PTO) if census is low. Usually if we know a shift is a little short, we'll ask ahead of time if anyone wants to work extra; it's easier to do it if you know in advance- I am NOT a fan of the last minute "someone's going to have to work over" tactic.

I once worked for a hospital that utilized mandatory OT.... It was a VERY common thing to use, and the newest employee always was the one picked. There were several times that I was mandated to work a total of 17 hours and had to return for my next shift 7 hours later. There were no deals, no days off in return, NOTHING. It really took a toll on me and my loved ones. They even tried to mandate me on my last evening shift! Fortunately I had enough common sense to relize that as of midnight I was no longer an employee! The nursing supervisor checked and found out that I was correct.

In my experience, if people are given a choice, they are more apt to pick up extra time....instead of being TOLD that they have to.

lsyorke, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Wound Care.

I won't do overtime. I won't work in a facility that mandates overtime. I have a life outside of nursing and refuse to give it up for any job(even if I do love my job)

It comes down to "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine" :)

There are areas of Nursing where mandatory overtime is part of the Specialty. Surgery is a prime example. So is Recovery Room- PACU) Nurses are expected to take call. These are highly specialized areas and you can't pull in an agency nurse last minute (unless you use an agency that strictly provides these kinds of nurses). You need to include this in your paper. Here is a goodie to do in closing of your paper.

In Ireland, it is federal law that nurses are only allowed to work 37.5 hours a week, their stats show any more, the nurse is judgmentally impaired, and errors happen.

Mandatory overtime..

with a 12 hour shift and a full night of call. I have worked a 21 hour shift..and needed to be back in the morning for my regular shift again! Shower, change, and start all over.............

hogan4736, BSN, RN

Has 13 years experience.

Originally posted by ageless

Mandatory overtime..

with a 12 hour shift and a full night of call. I have worked a 21 hour shift..and needed to be back in the morning for my regular shift again! Shower, change, and start all over.............

that's not mandatory overtime...

gwenith, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

The Australian experience

We don't have - have never even heard of it until I came to this board. We have on call for places like theatre and the staff who work there are paid to be on call - it is a pittance but they are paid. We can be asked to do over time and we will do so but it is an ask not a demand. We are not allowed to have less than an eight hour break between shifts and if you work into that eight hours of your rostered time off then you so not come back to work until eight hours after you finished AND you are paid "fatigue" leave. They don't consider mandatory overtime because it is too expensive!!!

I quit my first and ONLY nursing job that required that I work mandantory OT. The OT and not knowing when I'd get off work is 95% of why I'm not still there now.

It was overall a pretty good job and super close to my house, but mandantory OT is bull.

Originally posted by lsyorke

It comes down to "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine" :)

Perfectly put. It's not my problem that arrangements weren't made ahead of time. Hospitals that mandate OT but refuse to utilize agency nursing - what a load of bull.

The hospital I worked at started Manadatory OT. we all thought it would be a "short fix" to the staffing problems however it continued on and on. Sooo finally the union that was trying to get in was accepted by the RN staff..first thing to go was the mandatory OT.


I quit my last job because of the mandatory overtime that went out of control. Once in a while was not so bad but when it became the answer to a missing 2nd shift nurse I was gone. It takes you away from your family , causes agitation between staff members, causes stress on your mind and body, and is a unsafe work situation. Deb

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