Jump to content

Unpaid overtime - is this the norm?

Posted

Has 1 years experience.

I know I've written before - I'm a new nurse, on my first job in med surg, hitting a lot of bumps in the road and really struggling. One thing that is bothering me is that I'm an hourly employee - I am paid an hourly rate (not salaried), but I estimated I've put in at least 5-10 hours of unpaid overtime a week for the last month, which comes out to about $200-400/week in lost wages

Why? The floor is consistently short staffed (I've only worked one day fully staffed) and the administration likes to stop people at the end of their shifts to play Jeopardy on policy and procedure.

Last night I worked 15 hours. I came in a half hour early to prep (I'm fine with not getting paid for this time, it was voluntary), I skipped my hour lunch break (ha! never actually gotten to take that much time) and half hour unpaid break to chart because we were two nurses short and I didn't want to stay overtime, plus we didn't have enough people to cover me to leave the floor. Actually managed to finish on time, then was asked to be pulled into what was supposed to be a 15 minute meeting that lasted an hour. Then I had to wait for coworkers to count. Finally, 15 hours in I left.

Everyone's attitude seems to be "that's just what it is" and one nurse chided me for finishing on time because she says that administration sees me walking out on time and figures that short staffing us must be working, so I'm ruining things for everyone. At hour 12 I'm running on fumes - I'm done and ready to go.

I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but I'm not interested in putting in two extra hours every shift for unpaid work, none of which is due to me not finishing on time. I'm coming from having a salaried, professional job (where I was never asked to put in this much overtime( but I'm not salaried in this position - I'm paid hourly and if I'm working two days in a row, I need to get home (one hour commute each way) so I can sleep and get ready for the next day.

Is this a normal thing that nurses are just expected to do or just a hospital specific situation?

Edited by seconddegreebsn
added text

Illegal for sure. Management won't realize how bad short staffing is until they pay the overtime.

akulahawkRN, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 5 years experience.

The practice is likely illegal. If your facility has a union contract, there may be some provision in there allowing it, but I would seriously doubt it. Basically, if you're doing work at your employer's bidding, then you're supposed to be "on the clock" so to speak. Technically, if you come in early to prep, you could be considered as doing work, therefore you should be "on the clock" and getting paid for it.

Now then, I'd do the same thing... come in a little early to prep because it makes my life easier and not worry about getting paid to make my life easier. Now then, if I have to stay behind to finish my charting because there was no opportunity to complete it during the shift (and I'd be working on it as much as possible) then I'm going to still be "on the clock" because I'm completing my duties because I would not be allowed to leave until my work is done or otherwise I'd end up with my job in jeopardy if I just "up and left" when my shift was over.

seconddegreebsn

Has 1 years experience.

I think the union is fighting the hospital on this matter, but it seems like it's just accepted as given and the facility is really pushing back on any overtime, to the point where they will discipline you for staying late and not clocking out at exactly 12 hours. You're expected to stay late after clocking out to chart I don't care, they can call me in all they want - if I'm staying late, it's because they didn't have enough staff or management forced me to stay. I'm not agreeing to stay onsite and work without any record of it. They can refuse to pay me but I'm not working overtime while clocked out.

I honestly don't matter staying late if I have work to do, but I've actually been pretty good at time management (I guess my last career helped with that) and I'm almost always done charting on time.

RunBabyRN

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

Yup, illegal. You shouldn't even be touching patient information off the clock. Skipped breaks should be paid double, at least here in CA. The only way management will have it in their faces that they need to bring in more people to keep everyone on time is if they keep having to pay OT. It's less expensive to have one more person on at regular pay than to pay everyone 2 hours of OT every day, plus pay for skipped breaks. I would look into the laws in NJ about that. Speak with your union rep, too, so they can stay current on what's happening, since it sounds like they are aware of the issue. It's good for them to know it's still relevant.

seconddegreebsn

Has 1 years experience.

My union rep (who is also my preceptor and someone I count as a friend since she has really been wonderful in giving me guidance over the last year) basically told me to get out of there as soon as possible and find a new job. She is overwhelmed from fighting understaffing daily. Apparently she's looking for a new job as well....

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

Isn't it sad about our 'professional regard' ? And it's best seen by second career people like OP. Nursing by large is just an hourly job, like migrant farm workers or 'grease jockeys' at the gas station.

I always want to shout at posters like OP who post here questioning about switching to nsg. Major culture shock! Think twice!

Oh well, vent over. Commiserate as you choose. Didn't mean to highjack OP's post.

"They can refuse to pay me but I'm not working overtime while clocked out." They can't legally refuse to pay you. Until nurses stand up for themselves these practices that are pervasive at some organizations will continue. Can you imagine a world where all nurses got their breaks and they all got paid for any overtime they worked without threat or repercussions? I am fortunate to work at one of those organizations.

BuckyBadgerRN, ASN, RN

Specializes in HH, Peds, Rehab, Clinical. Has 4 years experience.

I don't want to sound mean, but any nurse that does this is a fool =( No WAY am I working "off the clock" to appease management. I'd be documenting til my fingers fall off about all of the unpaid work you're doing.

My coworker reminded me the other night "don't forget to take X (a study) home to read tonight. I laughed and said I wasn't reading that on MY time! She brought hers back the next day and I saw her reading it earlier this afternoon in our pod =)

SoaringOwl

Specializes in Med-Surg and Neuro.

"They can refuse to pay me but I'm not working overtime while clocked out." They can't legally refuse to pay you. Until nurses stand up for themselves these practices that are pervasive at some organizations will continue. Can you imagine a world where all nurses got their breaks and they all got paid for any overtime they worked without threat or repercussions? I am fortunate to work at one of those organizations.

Me too. Our clock-out system asks us if we were able to take an uninterrupted 30 minute meal break. If we answer no, we get paid for it. If we clock out late, we enter a code about why: late admit, working a code, etc. It is not expected that we will work for free, or fudge the numbers. I love my hospital.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

The Feds have become much more stringent - quicker reaction/investigation to complaints & larger fines for violations - in the last few years. Many companies (mine included) require employees to clock out for lunch rather than relying on an 'automatic' deduction... because this caused so many problems when nurses worked through lunch.

It amazes me that nurses continue to 'donate' to their employers by working off the clock... unpaid overtime, working through breaks, not clocking in for mandatory meetings or education, etc.... grumbling about the 'bad' organization but not realizing that the situation will not change until they take action. If nurses insist on being paid fairly & exercising their rights with formal complaints when necessary, this situation will stop. If a manager expose their company to Federal fines and penalties by allowing this to happen - she/he needs to be fired.

seconddegreebsn

Has 1 years experience.

I want to make a bigger stink about this but I know it's something the union is fighting, and I feel like I'd really be putting my neck out on the block. I do not have union coverage until 8 months after my hire date, so I can't push back formally.

There's just a lot of signs pointing to this job not really being a good workplace - daily understaffing, punitive administration, unpaid overtime, poor preceptorship and training. I guess I should have waited and held out for something else.

ArrowRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Vascular, E.N.T. Has 3 years experience.

Some units may have there own culture including working while off the clock. Its against federal law and illegal. I wont mind if as a new nurse i come in early just to spend time lookin at charts cuase it takes me longer to figure things out but if i clock out i'm out the door.

MrChicagoRN, RN

Specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care. Has 30 years experience.

I want to make a bigger stink about this but I know it's something the union is fighting, and I feel like I'd really be putting my neck out on the block. I do not have union coverage until 8 months after my hire date, so I can't push back formally.

There's just a lot of signs pointing to this job not really being a good workplace - daily understaffing, punitive administration, unpaid overtime, poor preceptorship and training. I guess I should have waited and held out for something else.

However, you can quietly report this to the NLRB, union or not.

At my first job, in the 80's, I frequently left an hour or 2 late, and would see other stragglers leaving then too. I got grief about the OT, but manager didn't address why I was staying late, or what could be done to get me out on time. Luckily, that unit closed after a year and I got to go into psych (where I wanted to be)

Evidently someone reported them, and a year or two later there was a settlement for clinicians based on hours work, and I think I got a weeks retro pay.

If you work, you need to be paid. If there is incidental OT truly due to clinician behavior, then that is another issue to be addressed.

seconddegreebsn

Has 1 years experience.

However, you can quietly report this to the NLRB, union or not.

At my first job, in the 80's, I frequently left an hour or 2 late, and would see other stragglers leaving then too. I got grief about the OT, but manager didn't address why I was staying late, or what could be done to get me out on time. Luckily, that unit closed after a year and I got to go into psych (where I wanted to be)

Evidently someone reported them, and a year or two later there was a settlement for clinicians based on hours work, and I think I got a weeks retro pay.

If you work, you need to be paid. If there is incidental OT truly due to clinician behavior, then that is another issue to be addressed.

Hmm...this is not a bad idea. Is the report anonymous or would I be named?

How many hours are you scheduled to work.?and did you work more than 40 hours a week, until you work more than 40 hours will it count towards overtime