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Nurses Fight for Overtime Pay

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Seattle, WAWhen it comes to overtime pay for nurses, people tend to think that after eight hours of work, the nurses receive their overtime pay. But as nursing overtime lawsuits show, the issue is not as cut-and-dried as that. For example, nurses are scheduled to take certain rest breaks but often work through those breaks, without pay. That adds extra hours of work to a day, without extra compensation.

Recently, a lawsuit in Washington state resulted in a unanimous decision in favor of the nurses. The Washington State Supreme Court held that nurses should be paid overtime when they were prevented from taking their breaks. The lawsuit involved approximately 1,200 nurses who worked for Providence Sacred Heart Medical Centre, in Washington.

Despite finding for the nurses, the court did not find that the hospital's failure to pay for missed breaks was a willful violation.

Nurses work long hours already, putting themselves at risk of errors related to fatigue and problems with alertness. Because their patients' illness is not guided by the nurses' break times??"emergencies can and do happen at any time, and nurses are expected to deal with them accordingly??"nurses often wind up working unpaid through their breaks. Even just two missed breaks in a week adds up to one extra hour of overtime a week, which, over the course of a year, can total a decent sum of money.

Many nurses will tell you that it is not just about the money??"although they have worked hard for it and deserve to be paid for all their hours worked??"but that it is about ensuring staffing levels are appropriate. After all, if a hospital routinely relies on its nurses to work overtime to cover shifts, the hospital probably has not employed enough nursing staff, further putting patients' health at risk.

But at the end of the day, nurses, like anyone else, deserve to be paid for the hours they work and if they work through their unpaid breaks, they deserve compensation for that time.

Not all nurses are eligible for overtime pay. For example, executive or administrative workers are exempt from overtime, as are registered nurses on a salary of a minimum of $455 per week and who are registered with a state examining board. But registered nurses who are paid hourly and most licensed practical nurses are eligible for overtime pay.

READ ABOUT NURSES OVERTIME LAWSUITS

Nurses Overtime Legal Help

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READER COMMENTS

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I am a RN going to work in a hospital next month.I have to work 12 hour shift in a day and minimum 36 hours in a week .

I will be paid hourly.

Will I get overtime pay after 8 hours in a day(i.e. may I claim overtime for 4 hours in a day)?

How much(times) will I get for overtime I worked?

If total hours worked is more than 80 hours in Bi weekly pay period, how much(times) will I get for hour worked more than 80 hours?

As I need to work 36+36=72 Hours in two week pay period, is hours worked more than 72 hours paid overtime?

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