Mandatory Overtime Restricted For NY Nurses

3 Min Read Published July 12, 2023
Mandatory Overtime Restricted For NY Nurses

On July 6th, a new law came into effect that restricts nurses from working more than their regular scheduled hours. This new law does have some exceptions to it. These include disasters and emergencies, also in situations that need to ensure patient safety, such as long surgical cases.  When exceptions are in use, employers have to notify the New York State Department of Labor. You can view the new law on the NY Senate website here

New Law 

The law restricts overtime above “regularly scheduled work hours,” which is going to include pre-scheduled on-call hours, communicating shift reports regarding patients, and normally scheduled work hours agreed upon and allocated to the nurse’s position. If allocated work hours per the position are not set, then other measures for minimal work time can be agreed upon. The new law does not restrict voluntary overtime. 

Additionally, it limits nurses' working hours, but it does allow for certain exceptions. These exceptions include,

  • Unforeseen emergencies

  • Disasters

  • Situations where patient safety necessitates overtime, such as in lengthy surgical procedures

When exceptions are in use for fifteen days or more in one month or forty-five days or more during a three-month period, the healthcare employer is required to report the incident to the New York State Department of Labor and the Department of Health. 

A poster is required to be posted at each healthcare employer’s facility for employees to view. The poster needs to explain how nurses can file complaints against the employer if they feel that the employer is in violation of the new law. This law also covers nurses who work for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

If employers do not comply with this new law, they will be subject to fines. Fines for the first violation fines not to exceed one thousand dollars; for the second violation within twelve months, will be up to two thousand dollars; and third offense and subsequent, up to three thousand dollars. 

The New York State Department of Labor has appointed the Deputy Commissioner for Worker Protection, Jeanette Lazelle, as the Enforcement Officer over this new law. 

Responses about the new bill 

The new bill restricting mandatory overtime for nurses in New York has received varied responses from different stakeholders in the healthcare industry. Hospitals and healthcare institutions are worried about the increased penalties for employers is ongoing and a new process. 

Roberta Reardon from the New York State Department of Labor Commissioner said, “Nurses are the backbone of our state's healthcare system, we need to recognize their invaluable contributions by ensuring they have the support and protections they need to do their job effectively. This new law prevents burnout and empowers these essential workers to continue providing exceptional care to New York families statewide.”

Dr. James McDonald, the New York State Department of Health Commissioner, stated that “This new law offers a valuable tool for retaining nurses and rebuilding a resilient healthcare workforce. All patients deserve quality care, which is unfeasible for nurses who are often required to work shifts that stretch human capabilities." 

Maureen Woodruff, RN, with St. Charles Hospital, stated, “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.”

Image: Facebook

The New York Nurses Association counts this as a win and that it strengthens penalties for employers to prospect nurses. 

>> Click to See the Top Online MSN Programs

What Does This Mean for Healthcare

The restriction on mandatory overtime for nurses in New York has significant implications for the healthcare industry. Mandatory overtime has been linked to nurse burnout and compromised patient care, with increased risks of medical errors. By limiting mandatory overtime, the new law aims to alleviate nurse strain and enhance patient safety. 

However, this restriction may also lead to a potential shortage of nurses actively working during a given day. To address this, employers must provide sufficient incentives and benefits for nurses to work overtime when needed voluntarily. Failure to maintain adequate staffing levels may result in longer wait times for patients and delays in scheduled procedures.

Breann Kakacek
Breann Kakacek Contributor

Breann Kakacek BSN RN has been a registered nurse for more than 8 years and a CNA for 2 years while going through the nursing program. Most of her nursing years include working in the medical ICU and Cardiovascular ICU and moonlighting in the OR as a circulating nurse. She has always had a passion for writing and enjoys using her nursing knowledge to create amazing online content.

Read More From Breann
Go to the top of page