ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)— New York State has strengthened a labor law that prohibits mandatory overtime for nurses.
While nurses have always been vital for care, the pandemic further highlighted just how important they really are.
“Understandably, many of them worked lots of overtime because there was no choice. But lots of nurses started burning out. It’s a very tough profession— physically and emotionally, and we found people were leaving the nursing profession because of it,
“It creates a reporting procedure for healthcare facilities to let us, the DOL, know that they are going to have to exceed their overtime requirements. It also gives the nurse, more protection and information on how they can protect their rights,” said Roberta Reardon, New York State’s Labor Commissioner.
According to the State University of New York, the state is protected to face a shortage of almost 40,000 nurses by 2030.
To help prevent more people from leaving their jobs, New York State passed a new law prohibiting mandatory overtime for nurses.
“It creates a reporting procedure for healthcare facilities to let us, the DOL, know that they are going to have to exceed their overtime requirements. It also gives the nurse, more protection and information on how they can protect their rights,” explained Reardon.
There are exceptions when it comes to mandatory overtime hours, such as a pandemic or a major health occurrence that a facility wouldn’t have had the ability to plan additional staffing for.
“We know that the best care is provided by nurses who are rested, and they don’t feel overworked, and they feel that they have the support that we need to provide to our patients and our general community,” said Kathy Whalen, a registered nurse at Albany Med. “The NYSNA nurses fought for this amendment and we feel like this is a huge victory for us.”
St. Peter’s Health Partners released a statement which said,
“The recent enacted amendment to Section 167 of the New York Labor Law doesn’t substantively change the requirement but focuses instead on enforcement and reporting. We don’t mandate overtime for RNs – overtime is voluntary – except in instances of true emergency, which is in compliance with the law. We value our nurses, their heroic efforts during the pandemic, and their resilience as we navigate the post-pandemic health care landscape.”