Pennsylvania hospitals, ambulatory-surgery centers and long-term-care providers cannot require nurses and other clinical-care workers to work overtime under a bill that cleared the states Legislature. The House of Representatives voted 186-13 to approve the bill a day after it won unanimous consent in the Senate.
The overtime ban includes clinical workers who are not considered supervisors in union contracts or who earn an hourly wage. It also extends to temporary workers. The bill excludes doctors, physician assistants and dentists, as well as other jobs not directly related to care, such as clerical and maintenance employees. Language in the bill that allows employers to require overtime under certain circumstances addresses hospital concerns, said Roger Baumgarten, spokesman for the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, in an e-mail.
Employers may mandate overtime in the case of: unforeseeable declared emergencies; a highly unusual or extraordinary event that affects healthcare delivery or demand, such as an act of terrorism, a natural disaster or a widespread disease outbreak; or unexpected absences that will significantly affect patient safety. The legislation specifies that chronic short-staffing vacancies do not qualify under the bill. These changes will ensure the safety of the patient is paramount and provide flexibility in the healthcare setting to manage their workforce when there are unexpected staff absences, he said. Gov. Edward Rendell is expected to sign the measure. -- by Melanie Evans