TO: Downstate PEF Nurses
FROM: Don Morgenstern, PEF Council Leader
RE: Mandatory Overtime
On July 1, the new law took effect banning mandatory overtime. In order to be in compliance with the law, Downstate has issued a new policy concerning Mandatory Overtime which I was able to review prior to its release. This policy is fair and goes beyond what is called for under the Legislation and you should become familiar with it.
In most day-to-day instances, Management is no longer allowed to mandate you to stay. Exceptions are made for emergency situations, such as Health Care Disasters, declared emergencies by the government, and for unanticipated staffing emergencies that could not be planned for by the employer and do not regularly occur. However, most normal absences by employees are not considered an emergency, but must be planned for by Management. In other words, they should not mandate you to stay because a nurse on the next shift called in sick or came late.
The State Licensing Board has indicated that they will not consider it abandonment of patient if a nurse refuses an “illegal” mandate to stay. On the other hand, Downstate could attempt to bring a nurse up on local disciplinary charges if he or she received a direct order from a supervisor to stay, and leaves. Normal procedure, which I strongly recommend that you follow, is that if you are ordered to do something by a supervisor, obey the order, and then have PEF file a grievance afterward. In no instance should you leave without giving report to either another nurse or to the supervisor.
If after July 1, you are mandated to stay please inform the Supervisor that they are in violation of state law, and they should not be ordering you to stay. Ask them to put it in writing that they are mandating you to stay, then call me at Ext. 1362 and if I am not there, please leave a message with your name, phone number, unit, shift, and the name of the Supervisor who ordered you to stay. I will investigate and get back to you as soon as possible, and if necessary, file a formal complaint with the New York State Department of Labor.
Over the past few years, Ms Jackson has made a commitment not to rely on mandatory overtime for staffing problems and therefore there have been relatively few instances of it occurring. I do not expect that to change, however even one instance is too many and should not occur.