STATEN ISLAND, NY — Retaining health care staff has been an ongoing challenge for New York in recent years.
According to a study conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, about 100,000 registered nurses exited the workforce over the past two years due to stress, burnout, and retirement. In an effort to retain and boost New York’s health care workforce, a new law, which went into effect on June 28, protects nurses from working excessively long hours, says the New York State Department of Labor.
Nurses no longer have to work beyond their regularly scheduled hours, with some exceptions.
Since July 1, 2009, Section 167 of the New York Labor Law restricted health care employers from requiring nurses to work beyond their regular shifts, with four specific exceptions — health care disasters, emergency declarations, and situations requiring safe patient care during emergencies or ongoing medical procedures.
The New York State Nurses Association celebrated the change with a post on Facebook that declared “Victory!”
An amendment to Section 167 has broadened the scope of the 2009 law.
Employers who require nurses to work beyond their regular hours under the specified exceptions must now follow a specific reporting process or there will be a financial penalty.
Under the amended law, the penalties for violations include:
- $1,000 for a first violation
- $2,000 for a second violation
- $3,000 for third and subsequent violations
In addition to these penalties, for each violation, the healthcare employer is required to pay the affected nurse an additional 15% of the overtime payment.
Under the law, “health care employers” are defined as employers operating under Article 28 of the Public Health Law, which includes hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic treatment centers, and state-operated facilities licensed under different state laws.
The law now broadens the definition of “health care employer” to include facilities operated or licensed by the Office of Child and Family Services, and it requires that health care employers display a poster with information on how to file a complaint with the Department of Labor (NYSDOL).
The amended law appointed Jeanette Lazelle, Deputy Commissioner for Worker Protection, as the Enforcement Officer within NYSDOL to investigate violations.