Mandatory Overtime law now
DEBORAH A. MILES
After decades of fighting for a law to end mandatory overtime, nurses in New
York will begin to see a change. The law was passed last year and went into
effect this July 1.
PEF anticipates the state Department of Labor (DOL) will issue regulations to
provide additional guidance on the statute and establish a process for filing
PEF President Ken Brynien said the union also anticipates the Governor’s Office
of Employee Relations (GOER) will provide guidance on how the law is to be
implemented in the agencies, consistent with the provisions of the PS&T
“We’ve had a lot of discussion, but nothing has come out on paper,” said Dee
Dodson, PEF Region 12 coordinator and Nurses Committee chair.
Now, it will have to. That’s good news for nurses who have rallied year after
year to abolish mandatory overtime and all the problems associated with it.
Dodson said the law provokes some differences in interpretations and definitions
such as what constitutes an emergency.
“Some things are pretty clear cut, such as a plane crash or major storm. In some
situations everyone agrees staff is needed. But other gray areas need to be
defined and clarified,” Dodson said.
“The hardest thing for managers will be to learn how to do things differently,
and not resort to mandating nurses. They must develop a plan to be in compliance
with the law and make it available for review. Everyone should be on the same
page when it comes to staffing the building and units without imposing mandatory
overtime as the first option,” Dodson said.
DOL will enforce the law. Once the regulations are published, each facility will
be required to develop a plan on how it will comply with the law.
“DOL will give the agencies suggestions they can use,” Dodson said. “Each one
should look at its budget and come up with ways it can manage the work force
within the law while respecting the rights of the nurses.”
The law does not prohibit a nurse from voluntarily working overtime.
Brynien said not all mandates will violate the statute. In cases where a member
believes a violation did occur, he should contact his council leader or field
representative to determine if a formal complaint should be filed.
PEF anticipates a complaint form will be available on the DOL Web site in July.
The PEF Web site also will contain a link under
“Nurses” to the DOL Web site
to report any mandated overtime. If individuals file complaints, a copy should
be provided to the PEF nurse organizer.