New Overtime Law for Connecticut Registered Nurses
Connecticut has implemented a new law designed to shield registered nurses (RNs) from “abusive” overtime practices. This law became effective on October 1, 2023, and was part of the state budget which was signed into law last summer.
Key terms of the new law include expanding the definition of “overtime.” It now includes (i) times when an RN works over twelve (12) hours in a given twenty-four (24) hour period, as well as (ii) situations when an RN works more than forty-eight (48) hours in any hospital-defined work week.
In addition, the new law addresses mandatory overtime requirements imposed by hospitals. While Connecticut’s existing law (CT Gen. Stat. 19a-4901) does limit mandatory overtime for RNs, it does allow hospitals to require RNs to work mandatory overtime in five circumstances:
(1) to any nurse participating in a surgical procedure until such procedure is completed;
(2) to any nurse working in a critical care unit until such nurse is relieved by another nurse who is commencing a scheduled work shift;
(3) in the case of a public health emergency;
(4) in the case of an institutional emergency, including, adverse weather conditions and catastrophe or widespread illness, that in the opinion of the hospital administrator will significantly reduce the number of nurses available for a scheduled work shift, provided the hospital administrator has made a good faith effort to mitigate the impact of such institutional emergency on the availability of nurses; or
(5) to any nurse who is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that contains provisions addressing the issue of mandatory overtime.
It is important to note, the new law does not ban the above exceptions, but it does limit their usage to now permit them only when the “safety of a patient requires and when there is no reasonable alternative.”
A few additional key components of the new law:
- It only applies to RNs. It does not apply to medical assistants and LPNs.
- It makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against an RN for refusing to work overtime. This includes discrimination and disciplining the employee. Rven the threat of disciplining or discriminating against the worker is sufficient to violate the provisions of the new law.
- It prevents private hospitals from reaching future agreements with unions that violate these provisions; however, it does allow for previously agreed to provisions of a collectively bargained agreement to be enforced for the duration of the existing contract.
- It prevents hospitals from mandating overtime as a regular practice to meet existing staffing levels.
- It requires hospitals to “make a good faith effort to have such overtime hours covered on a voluntary basis” before mandating it.
If you are a hospital administrator grappling with these upcoming changes, you are not alone. Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.454.0560.