Forcing overtime

  1. I am in California, and I cannot believe that I cant find ANYthing anywhere that bans or even controls the number of hours worked. We are currently being forced to work our shifts then cover call for our department and ANOTHER department as well which sometimes leads to a 18 or 20 hour day. Then some nurses must come back and work after maybe 3 hours of sleep for their shift. If they call in sick 3 times they are disciplined. So most nurses come back despite my feeling that this is obviously stupidly unsafe.
    Anyone know if there ARE rules or are hospitals without unions able to just do anything at all?
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    About sharann

    Joined: Feb '01; Posts: 1,840; Likes: 217


  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    Unfortunately there are no specific laws (that I know of) prohibiting mandatory overtime.
    Link to labor code -

    I would write in my own handwriting, "I am informing you (name of manager forcing overtime) that this is to confirm that for me to work overtime will place my patients, colleagues, and myself at risk. My fatigue may cause accidents an errors. As a result the hospital, not me, is responsible for any adverse effects on patient care. I will, under protest, try to carry out the assignment to the best of my ability."
    Signed:___________________________________________ _______

    Given to:_(supervisors name) at: _______ (time).

    If lack of child care or elder care is a problem list that also.

    They try it everywhere. Also claim your overtime.

    When asked to work overtime I learned to say, "I would if I could, but I can't because........"
    No insubordination there.
  4. by   azhiker96
    I would tell my supervisor how much I'm willing to work and that if I'm forced to work more I will begin actively seeking employment elsewhere. I did that at my current job when I got stuck in a bad position. I told my clinical manager that I wanted to take a different position in the department. She told me there were no positions open at that time. So I voicemailed my senior clinical manager and said I'd like a different position, that I understood there were non available, and that I was actively seeking a position outside of our department. I had a response in 2 hours that things would change in 2 days and they did. Check other areas in your hospital if you like that hospital or other opportunities in the community if you don't want to move. But you have to mean it, don't make empty threats. Good luck. Heck, maybe you can get a union in and they will fix the overtime problem.
  5. by   acgemt
    Mandatory overtime is one of my biggest pet peeves in nursing. :angryfire I currently work in an ER (3pm-330am). There are multiple times each week when i am faced with staying late, and not by choice. Mandatory overtime is not only unsafe for patients, but nurses as well. Nurses who are fatigued are at an increasd risk of performing a medication error. Patients are at risk because their nurses are not performing at their optimal level. I am not sure about any specific laws in your state, but I will say that the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act of 2005 has some very valuabl information. It was specifically created to address mandatory overtime issues. In addition, so to your nursing association websites. I know that AACN, ANA, and ENA specifically have position letters stating they do not agree with mandatory overtime. If you work in a critical care area, the ENA and AACN letters will definitely help you. In addition, you can't go wrong with the ANA as well. You can print it out from your computer and use that as information to make your case to your manager. You do not need to be a member to receive that information. I hope this helps.
  6. by   sharann
    Thanks azhiker96,spacenurse, acgemt for the insights. I will start looking for letters to give the manager. Thanks
  7. by   azhiker96
    You should also get familiar with the guidelines set by your State Board of Nursing. The website in Arizona is Under Resources they list advisory opinions on many topics. In the opinion about Abandonment of Patients they give the following examples.
    Examples of patient abandonment include, but are not limited to:
    Leaving without giving the supervisor or qualified person adequate notice
    Leaving without giving report to a qualified person
    Accepting an assignment of patient care and then leaving the nursing unit
    or patient care setting without notifying the qualified person

    Situations NOT considered to be patient abandonment, but are examples of employer-employee or contract
    issues of which the Board has no jurisdiction (salary, work conditions, hiring and termination policies):
    No call/no show for work
    Refusal to work mandatory overtime
    Refusal to accept an assignment or a nurse-patient relationship
    Refusal to work additional hours or shifts
    Ending the employer-employee relationship without providing the employer with a period of time to
    obtain replacement staff for that specific position
    Refusal to work in an unfamiliar, specialized, or "high tech" area when there has been no orientation, no
    educational preparation or employment experience
    Resigning from a position and not fulfilling the remaining posted work schedule
    Refusal to float to an unfamiliar unit to accept a full patient assignment
    Even though your employer might fire you it's good to know you won't lose your license for refusing "mandatory overtime".
  8. by   sharann
    Thanks azhiker
  9. by   wjf00
    Refusing mandatory overtime will not endanger your license. Working when you are fatigued and 'impaired' will endanger your license.
  10. by   Sylv
    I have never encountered that.

    Has it become a problem in CA because of the mandatory ratios?
  11. by   sanctuary
    Oregon has a mandatory OT law, AB2600. See if you can find it, and use it to approach your state organization for one protecting you, in your state. I is not perfect, but it put all the hospitals on notice that we were serious about mandated shifts.