Is mandatory overtime for nurses legal?
Dear Nancy replies:
Mandatory overtime has been, and still is, a very controversial issue. When mandatory overtime exists, research has indicated it contributes to nursing staff fatigue, potential patient care mistakes and potential injuries to nursing staff as well. You can read the research and nursing association positions on mandatory overtime by simply placing “mandatory overtime for nurses” in your online search bar.
Another resource for you is the American Nurses Association’s Web page on Mandatory Overtime (nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/State/Legislative-Agenda-Reports/MandatoryOvertime). The page includes a map of the U.S. showing states that have passed laws prohibiting mandatory overtime as of December 2014. At the bottom of the page is a link, Mandatory Overtime: Summary of State Approaches, which you might also be interested in reading.
Obviously, each state’s legislation banning mandatory overtime may be different. Therefore, in order to determine what law, if any, is in existence in your state concerning mandatory overtime, you might want to contact a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state who can provide you with details on your states law.
You also might check your board of nursing’s website to determine if there is any discussion about mandatory overtime. Some boards of nursing publish opinion statements or guidelines on particular practice issues. Additionally, your nurse practice act and/or rules might contain guidelines on this topic.