Fisher Taubenfeld LLP

You need time to care for yourself when you take care of others

There are many people throughout the United States who work as a nurse. While providing comfort and care to others can be emotionally challenging and physically demanding, you might feel the job is rewarding.

But as with any job, nursing can have its downfalls. When your job entails medication administration, personal cares and patient monitoring, you must be alert and prepared for the unexpected. But if your health care facility requires mandatory overtime, are you able to adequately treat the patients in your care? And do you have the right to refuse the extra work hours which would deplete your energy for your upcoming shifts?

How does New York's nursing industry rank?

Registered nurses go through rigorous training to become licensed. And with patient care as the end goal, you might struggle with understaffing, budget restraints and feeling like you do not have enough time to provide adequate care to your patients.

A recent study rated the nursing industry in each state, basing findings on earning opportunities, job competition and work environment. New York ranked 50th overall. Although New York did not see a nurse strike this year, nurses across the country are pushing back on their work conditions. But if you are a nurse, do you understand the laws governing mandatory overtime?

New York's mandatory overtime laws for nurses

Depending on the needs of your employer and bargaining agreement, you might be able to voluntarily work more than your regularly scheduled shifts. However, a health care employer cannot require you to work mandatory overtime except in cases of a:

  • County, state or federal emergency declaration which affects those in your care
  • Natural disaster which increases the necessity of health care in your area
  • Procedure which requires your continued presence throughout its duration

Also, in cases where a staffing crisis mandates your continued efforts for the health and safety of your patients, your employer may require you to continue your shift after dedicating a "good faith effort" to exploring other staffing options.

If you feel your employer violates the law by requiring you to work hours over and above your regularly scheduled shifts, you might want to explore your options. You may agree it is better to be wise about protecting your patients, and your license, than to increase the risk of errors due to being overworked.

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