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Connecticut, West Virginia Enact Restrictions on Overtime for Nursing Staff

By Roger P. Gilson Jr.
  • June 9, 2004

Lawmakers in Connecticut and West Virginia have enacted legislation that limits the ability of hospitals to require some nursing staff to work overtime, except under emergency circumstances. In West Virginia, the law is already in effect to prohibit the state's 10,000 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to work overtime. Nurses at four state-run hospitals and four veterans' hospitals would not be affected.

The Connecticut measure was approved on May 5 and would become effective on Oct. 1, 2005. Under the bill, hospitals could not require registered and licensed practical nurses or additional hours beyond what is scheduled except in certain limited circumstances including emergencies. However, the provisions do not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that addresses mandatory overtime. According to employee representatives in the state, several union contracts with Connecticut hospitals have "better language" than what the bill provides. According to reports, Governor John G. Rowland (R) has not indicated his position on the legislation, although a "veto session" is scheduled for mid-June.

Under the West Virginia law, nurses who have worked more than 12 consecutive hours must be given at least eight consecutive hours off. The overtime prohibition does not apply to voluntary overtime or to nurses working under collective bargaining agreements that have established overtime policies. Mandatory overtime would be permitted in public health or institutional emergencies, such as adverse weather or a catastrophe. It also allows a hospital to require a nurse participating in a surgical procedure to remain on the job until the procedure is complete, and to insure coverage in a critical care unit until the arrival of the scheduled nurse for the next shift.

According to the American Nurses Association, West Virginia joins eight other states that have prohibited or restricted mandatory overtime for nursing staff.

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