NEW LAW BANS FORCED OVERTIME FOR NURSES
Copyright 2002 Bergen Record Corporation
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)...01/03/2002
New Jersey's hospitals are banned from forcing nurses to work overtime except during emergencies under legislation signed Wednesday by acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco.
The measure makes it a violation of the law for a healthcare facility to require hourly employees in direct patient care to work beyond their regular shift, unless there are "unforeseeable emergent circumstances. " It also prohibits firing or demoting employees who refuse overtime work.
It is the first comprehensive ban on forced overtime in the nation.
More than a dozen other states are considering similar legislation.
Nurses, who have been pushing for the measure for years, complain they are often required to work overtime because healthcare facilities don't staff adequately.
"With downsizing and managed care, hospitals staff at a bare minimum," said Jeanne Otersen, policy director of Health Professionals and Allied Employees, a union representing 8,500 nurses and other health workers in New Jersey.
Otersen has had reports of nurses working 19- and 16-hour shifts.
The pressure to work overtime is a daily problem, she said, not just on days when emergencies bring in droves of unexpected patients.
"Nurses go in at 7 and are literally not allowed to leave," she said. "We've had nurses who had kids sent by taxi to wait for their mothers to get off duty. " A similar bill previously passed both houses of the Legislature, but was conditionally vetoed last year by then-Gov. Christie Whitman.
The bill was reintroduced by Sens. John Bennett, R-Monmouth, and Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, and passed the Senate in June. The Assembly approved the bill in the fall.
The law does not prohibit nurses from volunteering to work overtime.
It will will not take effect for one year, so healthcare facilities can have time to better plan for staffing, its sponsors said.
Vitale said he hoped the law would keep nurses from leaving the profession. "Experts estimate that by 2006 we will have a shortfall of 14,000 nurses," he said. "Ending the practice of mandatory overtime will help deal with the increasing difficulty of keeping trained nurses working in the field. " The overtime measure was among a number of laws that DiFrancesco signed as he prepares to step down from office.
Jan 5, '02
GOV SIGNS LAW PROHIBITING MANDATORY OVERTIME
And isnt that what we've all been screaming for? Congratulations NJSNA and all NJ nurses who fought to obtain this new law to ban mandatory OT. The fact that this ban is law in at least one state - with similar legislation pending in about a dozen others - makes it easier for the rest of us to get ours thru our legislatures.
What I find interesting here is that the thread titled "who's the boss" got 337 views and the thread announcing that NJ nurses have managed to get mandatory OT by law state-wide got only 1/10 of that number of people interested enough to read it. Wouldnt you think this announcement would have hundreds of nurses clicking on it - even for the mere fact that once we got the ban in one state, their own may soon follow? I hope this doesnt indicate a lack of interest on the part of nurses in making mandatory OT extinct.
Last edit by -jt on Jan 6, '02