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Not being paid anything for overtime hours worked during orientation. Is this legal?

Nurses   (3,261 Views 49 Comments)
by GbabyNurse GbabyNurse (New Member) New Member Nurse

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I have recently started my first job as a nurse in an ER. My orientation is around 14 weeks, and I have been (and will be) working full time (40 hrs/ week, 80 hrs/pay period). I went to "accept" my first time card and I noticed that all of my time spent working in the hospital is rounded down to exactly 12 hours a day, every day, even on the days I have had to stay over 30 min-1 hour. For example... My first shift time card is 0659-1948 (pt had a seizure during shift rounds and I HAD to stay over), and it was rounded down on my time card to 0700-1900. I am being paid for exactly 80 hours, when in reality, I have worked about 83-84ish hours over the past two weeks. All other employees get time and 1/2 for anything over 80 hours/pay period. I will talk to my manager tomorrow at work, but I don't want to sound rude or "greedy" asking why I am not getting anything for working overtime. However, since I am an orientee, I can not voluntarily sign up for overtime shifts, but I still think it is strange that I am receiving nothing at all for extra hours worked?? 

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I also want to make it clear that I NEVER hang around the hospital after my shift, running the time clock. I end up leaving late most days due to the fact that ERs are busy and we never get out right at 1900. I always clock out before my preceptors do, as well. 

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klone is a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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This is illegal. I would approach it as, "Hey, I noticed that my timecard says 0700-1930, and my actual clock-out time was 1948. Do you know how that got changed? Over the last 2 weeks, there were about 3-4 hours that don't seem to be accounted for on my timecard." Treat it like it must be some mistake or misunderstanding, and you're just trying to get it cleared up.

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I'm guessing they will say something about unauthorized overtime - you might want to arm yourself with the overtime policy before you go to the manager.  Also if it were me I would call HR first and ask for an explanation of the policy. 

Are you responsible for your own patients where you absolutely couldn't leave? I.e., was there another nurse responsible for that patient?  That's the only reason I could think of they wouldn't consider it authorized, since you are still an orientee. 

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klone is a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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True, they may say you can't work overtime. But if you already have, they are legally obligated to pay you. Changing your timecard and taking away time that you worked is illegal. Going forward, you may just need to make extra sure you're clocking out at 1930 and not accruing any incidental overtime.

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1 minute ago, Rionoir said:

I'm guessing they will say something about unauthorized overtime - you might want to arm yourself with the overtime policy before you go to the manager.  Also if it were me I would call HR first and ask for an explanation of the policy. 

Are you responsible for your own patients where you absolutely couldn't leave? I.e., was there another nurse responsible for that patient?  That's the only reason I could think of they wouldn't consider it authorized, since you are still an orientee. 

That’s a good idea to talk to HR first about their policies. And technically, I am working with my preceptor’s patients. However, I do my own tasks and am assigned my “own” patients and I can’t just leave them especially in the middle of an emergency. Like, I won’t just leave the seizing patient when the other nurses came in, since I was there when the seizure started, and I was needed to suction, hold them, etc. but I will definitely look for any policies about that. Thank you. 

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4 minutes ago, klone said:

True, they may say you can't work overtime. But if you already have, they are legally obligated to pay you. Changing your timecard and taking away time that you worked is illegal. Going forward, you may just need to make extra sure you're clocking out at 1930 and not accruing any incidental overtime.

I will see what they say. Where I work, the shifts end at exactly 1900 and in the ER I'm at, there is just NO way to clock out right on time most days. 

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4 minutes ago, klone said:

But if you already have, they are legally obligated to pay you. 

That's not always true - it probably varies by state, and it definitely varies by circumstances.  In the case of a nurse helping out in an emergency, I can't imagine it wouldn't be covered... but then there's that orientee thing.  Curious to hear what they say though, keep us updated. 

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klone is a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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If a person is hourly, and the state labor laws mandate overtime pay over 40 hours per week/80 hours per two weeks (depends on the pay rule), then yes, it's illegal to not pay her. It's also illegal to falsify her time card to change her hours worked.

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Swellz specializes in oncology, MS/tele/stepdown.

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I wouldn't go to HR, since they aren't the person whose going to be fixing your timecard. Your policies are likely available to you via your hospital's intranet or something anyway. Klone's advice to approach it as a misunderstanding is best IMO. Then let your manager tell you that they don't approve OT, ask what to do when you have incidental OT, etc. Maybe it's as simple as you sign in a book somewhere and have a charge nurse sign off that you stayed late.

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2 hours ago, GbabyNurse said:

However, I do my own tasks and am assigned my “own” patients and I can’t just leave them especially in the middle of an emergency. Like, I won’t just leave the seizing patient when the other nurses came in [...]

I would feel the same (not wanting to leave the patient) whether on orientation or not. Your preceptor should be there with you, though (for the patient and for you), and should know the ropes enough to know how an orientee staying over will be handled from the overtime perspective. I understand how valuable some of these learning experiences are, and as a nurse I wouldn't want to leave a "situation" either, but understand that it's very hard to justify OT while on orientation, and there is someone else who can take over for you (there had better be, anyway). There is another nurse who is responsible for those patients - so two off-going nurses (both commanding OT pay after 1930) and an on-coming nurse. I think it is very reasonable to accept that this must be kept to a minimum; IMHO the orientee who is there making OT pay is not a necessity (unless asked to continue providing assistance by charge nurse or supervisor, etc.).

Out of curiosity, is there a 30-minute unpaid lunch in there somewhere? Also, where are you picking up the additional 4 hrs/week to make 40 hours?

Well, anyway. You should be paid for time worked (minus the unpaid lunch), and your time card should not be falsified. I expect that you will probably be paid for time worked and told that henceforth you are not to accrue OT while on orientation, short of being specifically requested to as previously mentioned.

Hope your orientation is going well overall.

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If you are clocking in and out what they did was illegal.  

SOME rounding is allowed.

If you clock in at 6:53, they round it up to 7:00 and if you clock in at 6:52, they round it down to 6:45.  

They can deduct the 30 minute lunch without you clocking in and out. If you didn't take one, you need to tell them.  

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