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grandmax1 grandmax1 (New) New

Hi! I am new reader of allnurses. I logged on in hopes of finding the answer to a problem that arose at my workplace today. A notice was posted stating that charge nurses could not leave the property during their unpaid 30 minute lunch. They could go outside on the patio, but could not leave the property. There are only 2 charge nurses and they do not take lunch at the same time. You can only purchase lunch for (1) 30 minute span. So now if you don't bring your lunch one of the charge nurses will not get lunch. My question is: If your 30 minute lunch is unpaid, can you be forced to stay on the premises? This rule only applies to the charge nurses, no one else. Everyone else can leave the property for lunch. Is this really legal?

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

Seems to me someone who goes out could bring you back your lunch.

As far as the legalities of it, I'm not sure. Is patient abandonment an issue? Are the charge nurses the only RNs and they are trying to maintain an RN to patient ratio that complies with certain regulations?

When I worked supervision relief on night shift I wasn't alllowed to leave the hospital, but lunch wasn't an issue.

Hopefully, someone who has been there and done that can answer.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

If you're not being paid, I don't see how they can have any claim to your whereabouts. Are you union? Have you asked Human Resources about it?

At my current facility it is specifically stated that if we leave the premises we must clock out and back in on our return. We are allowed to leave for the half hour lunch, but then there are quite a few food choices within walking distance. At my last facility we were allowed to leave, but because there wasn't anything within walking distance none of us did. I don't see how, if there is more than one charge nurse, that they can be restricted to the premises during unpaid time. Especially if one does not have access to food.

I don't know if it's legal, but it doesn't sound right to me!

If you have the narcotic keys, you're not supposed to leave the facility because you could theoretically be out making copies of the keys.

This issue was addressed in the action line column of the local newspaper and the answer that was provided (state of CA) is that your employer can not keep you from leaving the premises for your 30 min lunch break. However, when considering hlth care facilities, sometimes practicality may not allow. I worked at a LTC fac on NOC shift where one of the charge nurses would leave on food runs in the middle of the night, leaving her area in charge of buddy nurse. Risky business. Also, she was gone for more than 30 min. Of course, nobody was going to make an issue of it. Personally, under no circumstances would I dare set foot outside of any facility while legally resp for any grp of pts. Value license too much.

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