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Bill prohibits mandatory overtime for nurses

Sunday, April 18, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska State Senate today passed House Bill 50, which would prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses in Alaska. Representative Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, sponsored the bill.
“There are many, many cases where nurses complete their shifts, and they are called right back in after they leave,” Wilson said. “They’re tired. They’re ready to go home. They face threats of reprisal if they refuse to serve that extra shift and exhaust themselves—and that’s just unacceptable.”

Mandatory overtime hours are those made compulsory on top of regularly scheduled hours on an assigned shift for a nurse on staff. HB 50 does not ban overtime. It allows nurses to work up to 14 consecutive hours, and then take a mandatory ten hour rest period. Exceptions are proposed for school nurses on field trips, nurses on medivac flights, or to accommodate emergencies such as natural disasters or disease outbreaks. Federal and native health agencies would be exempt. Fifteen other states—including Washington, Oregon, and California—have adopted similar rules.

"HB 50 addresses these problems in a reasonable and balanced manner, while making the work environment safer,” Wilson said. “The purpose of HB 50 is to promote better patient and nurse safety and to create an environment that will keep healthy, alert nurses at the bedside."

HB 50 now heads to the governor for signature.

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To contact Rep. P. Wilson, please call 907-465-3824.

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