Bill to prohibit mandatory overtime for healthcare workers

    A new compromise could dramatically scale back the use of mandatory overtime in Pennsylvania hospitals and nursing homes. Hospital workers support the move, saying mandatory overtime threatens patient safety.

    A bill written to prohibit employers from forcing nurses to work overtime passed through a state senate committee Tuesday.

    Kathleen Mebus with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania says her group lobbied lawmakers and labor unions to reach a compromise that would allow for some mandatory overtime.

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    “It bans mandatory overtime as a means of staffing, it does not ban mandatory overtime under exceptional circumstances,” she said.

    It’s a small win for the Service Employees International Union and other groups who believe that mandatory overtime has forced nurses out of the profession. Kathy Magaro with SEIU’s Nurse Alliance says mandatory overtime and other rules make it hard for nurses to balance work and family life.

    She says the revised bill puts a clear limit on the use of mandatory overtime.

    “It lists things like an act of bio-terrorism, certainly flooding, a snowstorm like what happened on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, where everything was shut down, and situations like that,” she said.

    Employers could also force nurses, and other care providers, to work overtime when an unusual number of workers call in sick.

    The bill has to clear several hurdles including votes in the full house and senate before it becomes law.

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