Legislative Memo

Frank Kerbein
Director, Center for Human Resources
T 518.465.7517 x210


A.11711 (Gunther)/S.8637 (Morahan)



Restricts overtime for nurses



June 23, 2008


This bill would prohibit employers from assigning overtime to registered and licensed practical nurses except in time of natural or other disasters or during states of emergency or vague patient care procedures. The Business Council opposes enactment of this legislation.

Delivering necessary services
Healthcare and other patient facilities have a primary goal of serving the patient or resident. In delivering these services in a timely manner, it is sometimes necessary to require employees to work overtime when an unforeseen employee absence or gap in patient coverage occurs. Situations like this are the exception rather than the rule and are a normal part of work in any industry. Employers must retain the flexibility to assign employees to cover gaps in patient coverage when necessary.

Nursing shortage
There is no disagreement that a shortage of professional nurses has and does exist. Prohibiting employers, however, from assigning overtime when necessary further aggravates the shortage situation. The limitations imposed by this bill are unrealistic in the real workplace.

Staffing challenges
The challenges of healthcare recruiting have forced healthcare employers to become imaginative in their employment efforts. As a result, we see a variety of scheduling options made available to nurses resulting in one's ability to virtually create a work schedule that fits that person's lifestyle. Whether working per diem, part time, fill-in, regular 8 hour shifts, four 10 hour shifts, three 12 hour shifts or some other arrangement, the employer has had to make this variety available as a result of market forces not through government mandate.

Employers have no intention of jeopardizing their already strained staffing levels through the arbitrary imposition of overtime.

This does not mean that there are never disagreements about overtime scheduling between an employee and employer. There certainly are and they are situations best left to the employee or employee representative and the employer to work out. This will result in a final solution that best fits the specific patient situation. Legislation like this has no place in this process.

Other available strategies
In attempting to avoid mandatory overtime, many healthcare employers, when faced with the need for last minute patient coverage, will first go to a list of fill-in or per diem employees who have volunteered for this very type situation. If this is unsuccessful, then the use of personnel from a nurse temporary agency provides the solution.

Some healthcare employers have a firm policy of not requiring overtime at all and rely exclusively on these alternative methods.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted.