In a victory for health and safety, as well as employment, Massachusetts hospitals are now prohibited from requiring nurses to work mandatory overtime. Hospitals can no longer require nurses to work beyond their regularly scheduled shifts, except in cases of emergency. Nurses may still volunteer to work more hours, but those nurses who work the maximum of 16 consecutive hours in a 24-hour period must receive 8 hours off-duty. And nurses who refuse to work the additional hours may not be subject to discipline. The statute does make some exception for those nurses who are members of unions, but the exceptions will require careful reading of the collective bargaining agreement.
The statute also creates a Health Policy Commission to develop guidelines. Check back with us, as we’ll work to keep you updated as those guidelines take shape.