Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mandatory Overtime

In lieu of a bright, attentive person maintaining a staffing schedule, or hiring more nurses, the hospital continues to resort to mandatory overtime.  Find the day shift short at 7:05 am?  No problem.  See who is around from the night shift and "mandate" them to stay.  Ditto for any shortness on the evening and night shifts.  If a nurse says she/he will leave anyway, threaten them with being fired and reported to the Board of Nursing for abandoning patients in order to revoke their license.

As you may have guessed, administration's favorite children have never been mandated.

I was mandated once so far, along with another nurse I was working with.  This is nonsense, especially because:

1- I have worked a floor by myself and this was not considered "short" by administration, so why can't relief be adequate when only one nurse shows up?

2- When my floor is relieved by at least two nurses, how can I be MANDATED to report to a different floor to work another shift?  I didn't abandon my patients- they were properly turned over to other nurses.  I then have to assume a different set of patients for another shift, providing relief to a nurse who could otherwise be charged with patient abandonment.

I need the overtime pay, but when I'm available to work.  I have other things scheduled after work.  Getting stuck at the job until midnight precludes me from getting to anything else and leaves me completely fatigued for days.  Splitting the shift so I could leave after twelve hours would be more palatable, but this is laughed at as a compromise.

Over the years, I have met [and worked with] several nurses who work Two Full-Time Jobs.  Over eighty hours a week.  They are zombies.  Inaccurate.  Short-tempered.

A natural consequence of mandated overtime is that the offended nurses call out the next day, thus forcing another round of mandatory overtime to cover the openings.  On popular call out days, the call outs worsen.  Day shift nurses can't risk getting stuck on the evening shift if they have something personal they really wish to attend to.  Evening shift nurses with something planned the next morning have to call out to avoid getting stuck overnight and missing the event the following morning.


  1. I work in CA and have no experience with mandatory overtime. I'm always fascinated/repelled by the topic. It just sounds flat-out illegal! Is this widely prevalent?

  2. This hospital is the first place I've experienced Mandatory Overtime. I had heard of it, but thought it could only be used in an emergency. In various places of employment, I've been "stuck" at work when no relief showed up because of some disaster- usually flooding, power outages, or snow/ice. In such situations, it seemed natural that you would have to stay because you were the only nurse and no other nurse showed up in the building.

    At this hospital, the Mandatory Overtime is riddled with problems. First, there is relief- at least one nurse is sent to the ward. My understanding was that you could not leave your assigned area and patients until another nurse took over. During Mandatory Overtime, another nurse does show up. But other nurses can't leave until a "safe staffing level" is achieved. This vague standard varies considerably. I have worked by myself and was told that this is not an unsafe level of staffing.

    Furthermore, the scheduling supervisor plays dirty. She'll assign her least favorite nurses to a chronic call-out ward on a chronic call-out day, such as Fridays in summertime or the day before a holiday. Then those nurses are mandated to stay because no nurse showed up for the next shift- a surprise to no one.

    The other trick is to hold open overtime positions until the supervisor's buddies accept or decline the shift. Once they have declined, the supervisor solves the shortage by mandating her least favorite nurses to stay.