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House Passes HB 50, Prohibiting Mandatory Overtime for Alaska Nurses

Bill prohibits mandatory overtime for nurses


Thursday, March 25, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska State House of Representatives today passed House Bill 50, which would prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses in Alaska. Representative Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, sponsored the bill.

“Nurses can risk reprisals, including threats of dismissal from employment, if they refuse to serve mandatory overtime,” Wilson said. “Nurses are often working excessive amounts of hours without adequate rest. This creates an unsafe work environment for patients and nurses.”

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 rest period of ten hours. 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 included prime co-sponsors from both parties. “The fact that my colleagues on the both sides of the aisle joined together to support Alaska nurses proves that this is a non-partisan issue that we can all see eye-to-eye on,” Wilson said.

“Nurses need to be healthy, too,” Wilson said. “This will take steps to ensure that rested and alert staff are at the ready for when an emergency comes through hospital doors.”

HB 50 now heads to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.

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