Connecticut expands overtime protections for nurses

A new law regarding mandatory overtime for registered nurses at hospitals is slated to take effect Oct. 1 in Connecticut.

The changes are part of a budget bill signed into law in June.

Under the new law, the definition of "overtime" is expanded to include situations where a nurse works more than 12 hours over a 24-hour period, or more than 48 hours in any hospital-defined work week.

The new law also provides new threshold requirements for registered nurse overtime,  according to an analysis from Littler law firm. 

Existing law allows hospitals to require nurses to work overtime or additional shifts if the nurse is participating in a surgical procedure, until the procedure is completed; if the nurse is working in a critical care unit, until such nurse is relieved by another nurse who is starting a scheduled work shift; in the case of a public health emergency; and in the case of an institutional emergency, such as adverse weather conditions, catastrophe or widespread illness, that the hospital administrator determines will significantly reduce the number of nurses available for a scheduled work shift.

The new law provides that those statutory exceptions only apply "when the safety of a patient requires and when there is no reasonable alternative." 

The new law also bars hospitals from discriminating against, discharging, disciplining, threatening to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliating against a nurse for refusing to work overtime. 

Additionally, it limits the right of private-sector hospitals to reach collective bargaining agreements with unions related to mandatory overtime or to enforce agreement provisions to which nurses unions previously agreed, according to the Littler analysis.

Read the full analysis here

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