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August 28, 2002

L&I develops guidelines for law restricting mandatory overtime for nurses

TUMWATER - The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has completed guidelines for enforcement of a new law that restricts mandatory overtime work by nurses. The law was passed in the last legislative session and took effect in June.

The guidelines define who is covered by the law and which health-care facilities are or are not included, among other things. It also defines terms such as "overtime," "unforeseeable emergent circumstance" and "reasonable efforts."

The law restricts health-care facilities from requiring registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to work overtime in excess of established schedules or agreed upon workweeks.

Sponsors of the bill said it was needed for public safety in health-care facilities and for the health and welfare of overworked nurses. Washington is one of seven states now with restrictions on mandatory overtime for nurses.

The guidelines are available on the work standards web page.

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