Nationwide Ban on Mandatory OT Gets Support.....

  1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 12, 2003

    ANA Applauds Introduction of Mandatory Overtime Legislation

    Companion measures would ensure safer patient care, greater protections for nurses

    Washington, DC --The American Nurses Association (ANA) today hailed the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act of 2003, a bill introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) that 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. The proposed legislation, which has more than 36 U.S. House of Representatives and 10 U.S. Senate co-sponsors, would address the current nurse staffing crisis in the U.S. by strictly limiting the use of forced overtime among nurses, a dangerous practice that has contributed to a recent exodus of nurses from the nation's hospitals and a decline in safe, quality patient care.

    ANA has been at the forefront of the push for this legislation and worked collaboratively on its development with members of Congress and organizations representing nurses. "We know that excessive use of mandatory overtime by health care facilities has been on the rise," said ANA President Barbara Blakeney, MS, APRN,BC, ANP. "In fact, 67 percent of respondents to an ANA health and safety survey reported working some form of mandatory or unplanned overtime every month. This proposed legislation would prohibit health care facilities from forcing exhausted nurses to work extra shifts, an unsafe practice that puts both patients and nurses at risk."

    The Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act would:
    * Prohibit health care facilities that receive Medicare funding from requiring a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) to work beyond an agreed to, predetermined, regularly scheduled shift. In no instance could a nurse be required to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period or for more than 80 hours in a two-week period - a provision that would prevent an institution from altering shift schedules in a way that would undermine the law.

    * Include nondiscrimination protections for nurses who refuse overtime and for nurses who provide information and/or cooperate with investigations about the use of overtime. (whistleblower protection)

    * Include an exception in the case of a declared national, state or local emergency. Such an emergency would be in response to an unpredictable disaster, not in response to a staffing deficiency resulting from management practices.

    * Provide for a study by the Department of Health and Human Services on the maximum number of hours that may be worked by a nurse without compromising patient safety.

    The ANA has long warned that mandatory overtime is dangerous for patients and nurses, and that the practice has been driving nurses away from the profession, thus exacerbating an emerging nursing shortage that is expected to worsen dramatically over the next 10 years.

    To counter staffing insufficiencies that are already occurring, many health care facilities across the nation have increasingly imposed mandatory overtime as a common practice. Typically, an employer may insist that a nurse work an extra shift (or more) or face dismissal for insubordination, as well as being reported to the state board of nursing for patient abandonment, a charge that could lead to a loss of license for the nurse. At the same time, ethical nursing practice prohibits nurses from engaging in behavior that they know could harm patients, thus leading to a dilemma for many nurses.

    By using health care law to address the problem, Congress is recognizing that mandatory overtime is a health care crisis that must be addressed if patients are to receive safe and effective care.
    # # #

    Cindy Price, 202-651-7038
    Carol Cooke, 202-651-7027

    RNs, LPNs, and nursing students are encouraged to contact their Congressmen and US Senators to urge their support of this important legislation.
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    About -jt

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 2,662; Likes: 46


  3. by   cindyln
    read what was just put out to the employees at the hospital I work at. WOnder why there is a shortage?? And we deal with mandatory overtime and uncompensated on call.


    SUBJECT: Employee Unpaid Meal Periods and Rest Periods

    1. It has been brought to my attention that there exists a liberal policy concerning civilian and military employees' use of the dining facility during duty hours. Currently, some civilian and military employees report to work at their scheduled duty start time then go to the dining facility to eat.

    2. Effective 3 March 2003, civilian and military employees who wish to eat in the dining facility will do so prior to the start of their duty day or during their unpaid mealtime, which is usually the lunch period. In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, effective date 4 July 2001, Article 13, Section 2, "The regular tour of duty for civilian employees is normally scheduled as eight and one-half (8 ) hours or nine (9) hours daily over a five (5) day period with an unpaid meal period." Eating in the dining facility other than during your unpaid meal period, before or after the normal work day, or special MEDDAC events is no longer permitted. With the exception of housekeeping, EMS and inpatient services, the duty day starts at 0730 hours. Breakfast should be consumed before 0730 hours for GS employees.

    3. It is also my policy that foods and beverages will not be consumed in patient care areas. There are numerous break areas in this facility that allow all staff a place to consume their food. Please be sure to use these areas.

    4. Article 13, Section 7 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement states "Employees will normally be allowed short rest periods that may not exceed fifteen (15) minutes during each four (4) hours of continuous work." Employees who smoke are not authorized additional breaks for smoking and should limit their smoking times to coincide with their fifteen minute rest periods.
  4. by   -jt
    <There are numerous break areas in this facility that allow all staff a place to consume their food. Please be sure to use these areas. >

    So his complaint is really that he just doesnt want you lowly civilians & military employees to be in his dining room, huh?

    <4. Article 13, Section 7 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement states "Employees will normally be allowed short rest periods that may not exceed fifteen (15) minutes during each four (4) hours of continuous work."
    Eating in the dining facility other than during your unpaid meal period, before or after the normal work day, or special MEDDAC events is no longer permitted. >

    Hes probably got you on the point that people are having additional unscheduled breaks when they are supposed to be working, so forget that one, but why cant you be in the diningroom during your scheduled 15 minute breaks? I dont see anything in your contract that dictates where you may & may not spend those 15 minutes. If the Employee Manual doesnt either, file a grievance & shut him up.
  5. by   cindyln
    exactly what everyone is saying. So we can not take a break and eat breakfast? we come to work at 0645,get report,then the patients are eating and the docs are making their rounds so usually some of the nurses will go down and get breakfast. It has not been a big deal and really do not see why it is now? We work without breaks and lunch alot and never charge for it. I think that will change now.
  6. by   -jt
    <So we can not take a break and eat breakfast?>

    Sure you can but youre supposed to be working if its not your scheduled mealtime. So just make breakfast your scheduled mealtime & go to the diningroom to eat. Tell the charge nurse that since you are never able to get a lunch break anyway& need to eat, you would like to take your paid meal at breakfast time when its not so busy on the unit & ask her to assign the breakfast time that you like to go as your paid mealbreak. (make a copy of the assignment sheet). Unless your Human Resources Policy Book says you have to go to lunch at certain times, there is no rule that says you cant have your paid mealtime before noon. Then when he sees you there & writes you up for defying his order, show him the assignment sheet with your assigned AM breaktime written right on it. Shut him right up. Then expect his next memo prohibiting lunch before noon. lol. Id still file a grievance for being told to stay out of the diningroom during 15 minute breaks, and now Id add on that there is not enough staff for the nurses to even go to lunch & that they havent been paid for the overtime they worked during all these missed breaks. If youre not using the grievance process & your contract, why bother having one?
  7. by   ctrayford
    So how long do you think it will take Congress to deliberate on this matter of mandatory overtime? I'm not even in nursing school yet, but I LOVE this legislation! I commend the ANA for stepping up to the plate and getting things done!!
  8. by   SirJohnny

    You state that you are hourly employees. I assume you are working in the USA?

    You state that you are required to work "off the clock" during your lunch break.

    By law, and the labor folks are big on this one, if you are an hourly employee, you cannot work "off the clock". You MUST be paid at least minimum wage.

    Companies can get hit with big fined plus re-imbursement of back pay (which includes contributions to benefits such as 401K, etc). I know Wall-Mart tried to make their pharmacists work unpaid hours - and the labor dept said nope, can't do that.

    I would defintiely DEMAND either pay for lunch or take my break. The heck with management.

    I went through this crap with Toot-N-Scoot stores (gas station) back in 1988, when they wanted us to stay an extra 2 hours (non-paid) to do paperwork. Well state attorney general of PA back then said that store had to re-imburse us for overtime.

    I definitely would check the labor laws in your area.

    Surprised you guys haven't hired a labor lawyer yet with all the troubles I keep reading about. These guys would love to get their hands on a hospital or two.

    Gotta run.

    John Coxey