Pennsylvania To End Mandatory Overtime For Health Care Workers

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Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) on Thursday signed into law a bill that will prohibit health care facilities from requiring mandatory overtime of staff, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The law, set to take effect in July 2009, seeks to protect health care facilities from forcing nurses, technicians, technologists, certified nursing assistants and phlebotomists, and other caregivers from being disciplined or discriminated against for refusing to work overtime.

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Mandatory overtime would be allowed in some cases, such as a natural disaster, but it could be used only as a last resort and employees would have to be given one hour to arrange for family care. Employers also are prohibited from using on-call time in place of mandatory overtime. Violators can be fined from $100 to $1,000 per violation. The state Department of Labor & Industry will enforce the law.

Supporters say the new rule will ensure patient safety. Rendell said, "There was a problem with nurses' being overworked and overtired and potentially error-prone in their jobs" (Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/19).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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