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Unpaid breaks comparison

UK   (397 Views | 8 Replies)

59 Profile Views; 2 Posts

Hi all, I'm looking to get some perspective on nursing lunch breaks...

In my current health board a full time staff nurse works 3x12.5 hour shifts per week - are paid for the full 12.5 hours but are required to owe the ward .5 hours each day (repayment for the break you were paid for), so you work an additional 1x 6 hour shift each month in repayment.

In my proposed new health board the same role and working hours requires you to work back 1 hour each day, and so you work an additional 1x 12.5 hour shift each month in repayment.

We typically call this "time owing" and it appears to be common practice in most of Wales.

I'm interested to hear what arrangements other workplaces have in place for paid/unpaid breaks. Is this universal or do we have a strange system going on here?

Any opinions appreciated! ūüôā

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GrumpyRN has 38 years experience as a NP and specializes in Emergency Department.

1 Follower; 766 Posts; 17,407 Profile Views

Where I worked we did 12 hour shifts, 12.5 hours but were paid for 11.5 hours. The missing hour was 2 x 30 minute meal breaks which were unpaid.

We did 3 weeks of 3 and 1 week of 4 in a 4 week period. This left us 30 minutes short every 4 weeks but this would be rostered as working an extra 15 minutes twice a month. Very rarely did anyone ever actually work the extra 15 minutes.

Sounds like this is similar to the new system you are asking about. I personally loved this shift pattern.

PS, you may want to change your user name as it is never a good idea to have real names on internet forums. ūüėÄ

PPS welcome to Allnurses.

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2 Posts; 59 Profile Views

Hey thanks for the reply. It sounds pretty universal then, I don't mind the new pattern as there are lots of benefits to working on the new trust especially since it's much closer to home for me ūüôā

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XB9S has 22 years experience and specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery.

1 Follower; 8 Articles; 3,001 Posts; 65,089 Profile Views

We work 12.5 hours with 1 hour unpaid so it works out as a 11.5 hour shift. We then work a make up shift once a month

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DavidFR has 30 years experience and specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health.

205 Posts; 5,637 Profile Views

Bonjour from a civilised country!

I remember having break time deducted in the UK and thinking it was normal since I knew nothing else.

I arrived in France in 2001. I remember my first agency shifts where I asked how much break I deducted on my timesheet only to be stared at like I'd fallen from Mars. No deduction for break.

And voilà all these years later I work 12 hour nights and I'm paid 12 hours, the principle being you eat on the ward (free meal provided!) and obviously if your patient rings, you go and answer, but in all honesty, it's rare we don't get a decent mealbreak.

The rare establishments that do deduct mealbreak make sure you leave the ward for a dedicated canteen facility or restroom so that your unpaid time really is your own time and you're never disturbed. 

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GrumpyRN has 38 years experience as a NP and specializes in Emergency Department.

1 Follower; 766 Posts; 17,407 Profile Views

17 hours ago, DavidFR said:

Bonjour from a civilised country!

I remember having break time deducted in the UK and thinking it was normal since I knew nothing else.

I arrived in France in 2001. I remember my first agency shifts where I asked how much break I deducted on my timesheet only to be stared at like I'd fallen from Mars. No deduction for break.

And voilà all these years later I work 12 hour nights and I'm paid 12 hours, the principle being you eat on the ward (free meal provided!) and obviously if your patient rings, you go and answer, but in all honesty, it's rare we don't get a decent mealbreak.

The rare establishments that do deduct mealbreak make sure you leave the ward for a dedicated canteen facility or restroom so that your unpaid time really is your own time and you're never disturbed. 

Nope, going to disagree with you. Nothing civilised about not getting off the ward for your breaks. Don't care that they are providing free food. Eating at your "desk" is disgusting, poor infection control, no chance to relax and unwind and being seen by patients and visitors sitting about. Every single part of that appalls me.

The hospitals I have worked in (not many I'll grant you, but not just in one city) have all had canteens or staff rooms so that staff can get away. I objected when the hospital opened up the canteens to the public (for financial reasons) as it meant I was having to look at the public and they were looking at me on my down time.

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DavidFR has 30 years experience and specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health.

205 Posts; 5,637 Profile Views

Hello Grumpy, like your avatar.

Well, for a start you don't eat "at your desk" in an office nor in a clinical area. You have a designated rest room on every ward where the call bell system monitor is visible, so you can still see when people are ringing and patients and visitors can't see you.  You are essentially still on the ward but out of sight in a non clinical room. If you are at break and your colleague(s) who aren't can't handle a request from one of your patients they come and get you, you wash your hands, do what's necessary and wash your hands again before going back to the rest room. Simple really and I don't see what's dirty about that.

In areas where you may only be two staff at night this avoids the syndrome of one nurse being left entirely alone while the other is miles away in the canteen - a phenomena I saw many times in the UK.   

In practice it's rare that you don't get time to eat and wind down undisturbured, yet you are paid for your availability if needed. I'm quite happy to be getting paid for eating my free food and reading my book thanks very much. 

Edited by DavidFR

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GrumpyRN has 38 years experience as a NP and specializes in Emergency Department.

1 Follower; 766 Posts; 17,407 Profile Views

On 5/21/2020 at 2:07 AM, DavidFR said:

...the principle being you eat on the ward (free meal provided!) and obviously if your patient rings, you go and answer,

 

17 hours ago, DavidFR said:

...for a start you don't eat "at your desk" in an office nor in a clinical area. You have a designated rest room on every ward

You have changed what you said...

In the first comment you stated, as above, "on the ward." You have now changed it to, "a designated rest room on every ward."

On the ward means at the nurses station in front of patients and visitors. Designated rest room is a staff room which is what I would expect in any area I worked. I would also not be answering bells, calls or requests from patients during that time, (obviously emergencies are different).

 

 

17 hours ago, DavidFR said:

In areas where you may only be two staff at night this avoids the syndrome of one nurse being left entirely alone while the other is miles away in the canteen. 

This is bad management and requires sorting out, part of a managers job is to ensure staff have breaks taken safely.

 

17 hours ago, DavidFR said:

In practice it's rare that you don't get time to eat and wind down undisturbured, yet you are paid for your availability if needed. I'm quite happy to be getting paid for eating my free food and reading my book thanks very much. 

From what you have written there is nothing to stop the ward area becoming so busy on a permanent basis that you never get a break, or your management from just cutting out your breaks completely and pointing out, "you are being paid."

 

I appreciate that it is a different system and a different way of working but please don't try to claim it is "civilised" to not get a break.

 

A 30 second Google found this;

Benefits of regular breaks and rest periods at work

We’ve established that working through break times in the workplace can cause stress, fatigue and other issues that can affect mental health.

Taking breaks at work benefits you and your staff. By encouraging them to take regular rest periods, you’re creating better employees.

From a boost in productivity to improved mental wellbeing, it has many research-backed health, wellness and performance advantages. Other benefits include:

A more engaged workforce.

Increased productivity and performance.

Reduced injuries in physically demanding roles.

A boost in creativity.

Reduced presenteeism and absenteeism.

Improved job satisfaction.

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DavidFR has 30 years experience and specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health.

205 Posts; 5,637 Profile Views

6 hours ago, GrumpyRN said:

 

You have changed what you said...

In the first comment you stated, as above, "on the ward." You have now changed it to, "a designated rest room on every ward."

On the ward means at the nurses station in front of patients and visitors. Designated rest room is a staff room which is what I would expect in any area I worked. I would also not be answering bells, calls or requests from patients during that time, (obviously emergencies are different).

 

 

This is bad management and requires sorting out, part of a managers job is to ensure staff have breaks taken safely.

 

From what you have written there is nothing to stop the ward area becoming so busy on a permanent basis that you never get a break, or your management from just cutting out your breaks completely and pointing out, "you are being paid."

 

I appreciate that it is a different system and a different way of working but please don't try to claim it is "civilised" to not get a break.

 

A 30 second Google found this;

Benefits of regular breaks and rest periods at work

We’ve established that working through break times in the workplace can cause stress, fatigue and other issues that can affect mental health.

Taking breaks at work benefits you and your staff. By encouraging them to take regular rest periods, you’re creating better employees.

From a boost in productivity to improved mental wellbeing, it has many research-backed health, wellness and performance advantages. Other benefits include:

A more engaged workforce.

Increased productivity and performance.

Reduced injuries in physically demanding roles.

A boost in creativity.

Reduced presenteeism and absenteeism.

Improved job satisfaction.

We'll agree to differ on terminology. To me "on the ward" means you haven't left the confines of the space enclosed within the ward doors and that includes non-patient areas such as the treatment room, secretary's office, doctor's office, nurses' office and yes, "salle de repos" which can be translated as rest room. In France we have a single room culture, not open bays, so there aren't patients and relatives wandering round as is common on British wards. They usually stay in their rooms and if they want something or have a question they ring.

You may consider it bad management to just have two nurses on a night shift but the reality is, nobody is going to put 3 or 4 nurses on nights for a 12 bedded ward in either country. I am often on nights with one other nurse. When (s)he is in the rest room on break I will only ever disturb him/her for a dire emergency, however I'm comforted that they're there if needs be and not 7 floors away in the canteen.  I remember being left alone on wards in the UK and yes, that is bad management.

If as you suggest, the ward area got so busy that your breaks were disturbed on a permanent basis, believe me that would be addressed in France. I agree it probably wouldn't in the UK. The fundamental difference between the two countries is that while you had years of Thatcherism the French had 14 years of Mitterand's socialism and that has fundamentally affected the directions our two nations have taken since and the state of public services today. I've been in France nearly 20 years - I appreciate my paid break, the free meal, and since it rarely gets disturbed I don't mind having it within the ward doors. I essentially still get my break away from the patients with all the benefits you describe. I occasionally get disturbed for a real emergency - so what, I'm being paid and my colleague hasn't been left in the merde. Yes, I do believe that is a more civilised way of organising healthcare. British nurses are used and abused - I've been there. I don't feel abused in France. I speak from experience. I never said it was civilised to not get a break. I said it was civilised to get a paid one, and if I very occasionally sacrifice it to help a colleague that's fine. Believe me, if it was ever abused, French unions would be on it.        

   

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