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New York Labor Establishes Penalties for Violations of Law Restricting Mandatory Overtime for Nurses

On December 30, 2022, Governor Hochul signed a bill (A.286/S.1997) which amends New York Labor Law Section 167, restricting consecutive hours of work for nurses by prohibiting “healthcare employers” from requiring nurses to work beyond their regularly scheduled hours, with four limited exceptions, where the overtime is during or due to:

  1. A health care disaster that increases the need for healthcare personnel;
  2. A federal, state or county declaration of emergency;
  3. An unforeseen emergency, and necessary to provide safe patient care that could not be prudently planned for by the employer and does not regularly occur; or
  4. An ongoing medical or surgical procedure in which the nurse is actively engaged and whose continued presence is needed to ensure the health and safety of the patient.

The amendments are effective on February 28, 2023, and they establish monetary penalties for employers who are found by the NY Department of Labor (DOL) to be in violation of the law as follows:

  • $1,000 for a first violation,
  • $2,000 for a second violation, and
  • $3,000 for third and subsequent violations; and
  • For each violation, the healthcare employer would also be required to pay the affected nurse an additional 15 percent of the overtime payment.

Covered healthcare employers include those as listed in Article 28 of the Public Health Law (i.e., hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostic treatment centers. Covered nurses are those who are registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Additional Information

There is also impending legislation to establish new reporting requirements for healthcare employers when they mandate overtime more than 15 days in a month which will require healthcare employers who mandate overtime 45 days or more in a three-month period to provide an estimate to the state of when they will cease to mandate overtime and an explanation of its continued use. However, the timeline for implementation of this requirement is unknown.

Next Steps for Employers

Covered healthcare employers should take note of these penalties for violations and the requirement for additional pay to the affected nurse for each violation. To reduce wage claims, employers should ensure that they are adhering to the law. Schedulers and manager/supervisors should be educated on this law and how its’ requirements may apply to the organization. Employers should also prepare for the implementation of upcoming reporting requirements.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.