Pennsylvania Enacts Ban on Health Workers' Mandatory OT

Beginning July 1, 2009, health facilities in Pennsylvania are barred from requiring nurses and health care workers to work mandatory overtime beyond an agreed to, predetermined, and regularly scheduled shift. Overtime can still be required when an unforeseeable emergent circumstance occurs and assigning additional hours is a last resort; the employer has exhausted reasonable efforts to obtain other staffing; and the employer gives the employee an hour to arrange for child or elder care or care of a disabled family member.

Gov. Ed Rendell signed the bill (House Bill 834) on Oct. 9 along with about 40 other bills, including Senate Bill 1503, which will repair 411 bridges on an accelerated basis; S.B. 263, which raises the monthly benefit from $125 to $175 for people suffering from silicosis or black lung; and H.B. 647, which creates a State Board of Crane Operators to oversee licensing and discipline of crane operators.

The Service Employees International Union hailed the enactment of H.B. 834. "This (OT bill) is one big positive step forward for patients and nurses across Pennsylvania," said Kathy Magaro, RN. "We had champions in both the House and the Senate, but the real heroes are the nurses and other direct patient caregivers who met with legislators again and again to tell them the reality of mandatory overtime and why this ban is so important to them and their patients."

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