Pennsylvania Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act

A Pennsylvania law, the Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act, 43 P.S. §932.1, prohibits Pennsylvania health care facilities from requiring employees to work in excess of an agreed to, predetermined and regularly scheduled daily work shift. The law applies to any facility that provides clinically related health services, whether the operation is for profit or nonprofit, and includes general or special hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, hospices, ambulatory surgical facilities, long-term care nursing facilities, cancer treatment centers, inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facilities and mental retardation facilities. The law does not apply to offices used primarily for private or group practice by a health care practitioner, or facilities providing treatment solely on the basis of prayer, spiritual means or certain religious entities.

A health care facility cannot retaliate against an employee for refusing to accept work in excess of the law’s limitations and the refusal to work in excess of the time limitations of the law cannot be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge or taking any other adverse employment decision. The law also can not be construed to permit a health care facility or employer to use on-call time as a substitute for mandatory overtime or as a means of circumventing the law.

The law does not prevent an employee from voluntarily accepting work in excess of the limitations or prevent an employee from working an agreed to, predetermined and regularly scheduled daily work shift that is greater than eight hours.

There is an exception for unforeseeable emergent circumstances where the assignment of additional hours is used as a last resort after the health care facility or employer has exhausted reasonable efforts to obtain other staffing. The law defines “Unforeseeable Emergent Circumstances” as a declared national, state or municipal emergency, a highly unusual or extraordinary event which is unpredictable or unavoidable, and which substantially affects the provision of needed health care services or increases the need for health care services, such as an act of terrorism, a natural disaster or widespread disease outbreak. “Reasonable Efforts” include seeking persons who volunteer to work extra time from all available qualified staff working at the time, seeking the use of per diem staff or seeking personnel from a contracted temporary agency.

Another exception is when an employee is required to work overtime to complete a patient care procedure already in progress, if the absence of the employee could have an adverse effect on the patient.

When an employee is required to work due to unforeseeable emergent circumstances, the employee must be provided up to one hour to arrange for the care of the employee’s minor child or elderly or disabled family member. An employee who is required to work more than 12 consecutive hours per workday or who volunteers to work more than 12 consecutive hours is entitled to at least ten consecutive hours of off-duty time immediately after the worked overtime; however, an employee may voluntarily waive this requirement.

If you work in a health care facility and your employer has required you to work in excess of an agreed to schedule, or you have been retaliated against for complaining about being required to work longer than an agreed to schedule, call Abramson Employment Law at 267-470-4742 or contact us online to discuss your legal options for a claim under the Pennsylvania Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act.

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