Before July 1, 2009, employers could and did force RNs to work excessive hours, which led to errors, complications, and less safe conditions for delivering patient care. NYSNA fought for and won a law to ban mandatory overtime for many nurses. Now New York State has joined 14 other states in strongly restricting mandatory overtime for RNs.
The law prohibits hospitals from requiring nurses to work beyond our scheduled shifts – except in the case of a declared emergency. And the law protects us from retribution or discipline for refusing overtime.
Voluntary overtime, on the other hand, is not limited by the law.
The law includes some limited exceptions when we must complete an assignment which requires work beyond our scheduled hours:
- An unanticipated healthcare disaster increases the need for healthcare personnel
- A federal, state or county Declaration of Emergency is called in the RN's county of employment (or a contiguous county)
- The facility must engage in an on-going medical or surgical procedure that the RN is actively engaged in/his/her skills are essential to ensure the health and safety of the patient.
- The employer declares an emergency, subject to regulations. Contact your NYSNA rep to understand more about this exception, and/or read Labor Law 167 which discusses this exception in detail.
If management is pressuring you to work overtime, talk to your NYSNA delegate or rep right away.
“Before we won a law, mandatory overtime was an almost daily occurrence at our hospital. We have used our collective power to force management to address staffing – the root cause of mandatory OT problems.”
- Maureen Woodruff, RN, St. Charles Hospital