We should all be outraged. Outraged that non-clinical people are making decisions for nurses as if they understand nursing. Outraged that they don't consider the risks for the patient, outraged that they believe nurses do not need breaks, as if our title, our job, our very way of making a living somehow exempts us from the federal break mandate for workers.
Washington Meal Breaks
Washington requires employees who work 5 hours to get at least a 30-minute break. This break must be given no earlier than 2 hours and no later than 5 hours after the start of a shift.
And, special rules for minors apply. Employees who are 14 and 15 years old can go no longer than 4 hours without being given a meal period of at least 30 minutes. Employees who are 16 and 17 years old cannot be required to work more than 5 hours without a meal break of at least 30 minutes. This break must also start between the 2nd and the 5th hours of the shift.
Another 30-minute meal break must be provided before an overtime shift that is 3 hours longer than the normal workday.
In Washington, meal breaks can be unpaid as long as the employee is completely relieved of all work duties. If the employee is required to remain on the work premises or at a prescribed place, then the meal break must be paid. (!!)
But, what happens if an employee misses a meal break?
The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that an employer is not automatically liable if an employee misses a meal break because an employee can waive the break. Employers can rebut any allegations of break-law violations by showing that no violation occurred or showing a valid waiver.
Understand they do not want to pay us for breaks. If they start on nurses, then maybe they can take breaks away from fast food workers, or retail workers, or city employees, or federal employees.
This is as basic as it gets, workers (including nurses) deserve breaks. It's a federal law. They are trying to take that away from us. We already give up our breaks for our employers, who punish us because we clock "no lunch". And you're going to argue with fellow nurses asking for the basic federal right? STOP