Mandating overtime and patient safety
Vincent Medical Center in Toledo say they are tired of repeatedly being on-call or forced to work beyond their regular shifts because of understaffing.The nurses say they sometimes only get a few hours of sleep before they’re expected to be back assisting with surgeries or caring for the sick, which creates a dangerous situation for both them and their patients.“This is not a bakery where if I miss an ingredient, I can throw it out and start over,” one of the striking nurses, Michele Powers, said.For LPNs and RNs working at VA and other public hospitals, mandatory overtime may still be legal.This “government-run” exception usually doesn’t apply to state or municipal facilities. Nurses cannot be forced to work beyond their regularly scheduled shifts.The Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal labor law that outlines the rules for minimum wage and overtime, says that the vast majority of American workers should be paid at premium rates for working extra hours.But the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t set any limit on how many hours an employee can work in a week, and most employers are well within their legal rights requiring employees to work overtime.It might sound crazy, but a company can force you to work overtime.
The Ohio Hospital Association argues the proposal would get in the way of patient care, saying hospitals need flexibility in staffing because of the always changing number of patients.“We believe, through current measures in place, that we are putting patient safety first,” it said in a statement.
Thankfully, a number of states have stood up to mandatory overtime in the healthcare industry, either prohibiting the practice altogether or severely limiting an employer’s ability to require extra hours.
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