2007 -- S 0029 SUBSTITUTE A
A N A C T
RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - - HEALTH CARE FACILITIES STAFFING
Introduced By: Senators Tassoni, Goodwin, Ruggerio, Lanzi, and Ciccone
Date Introduced: January 09, 2007
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Title 23 of the General Laws entitled "HEALTH AND SAFETY" is hereby
amended by adding thereto the following chapter:
HEALTH CARE FACILITIES STAFFING
23-17.20-1. Purpose. -- It is declared to be the public policy of this state to establish a
maximum workday for certain hourly wage employees as defined herein, beyond which the
employees cannot be required to perform overtime work, in order to safeguard their health,
efficiency, and general well-being, as well as the health and general well-being of the persons to
whom these employees provide services.
23-17.20-2. Definitions. -- As used in this chapter:
(1) “Employee” means a nurse licensed pursuant to chapter 5-34, and a certified nurse
assistant registered pursuant to chapter 23-17.9, provided further, that such term shall not include
certified registered nurse anesthetists or resident physicians; and provided further, that for
purposes of this chapter, said nurse and/or nursing assistant shall be paid on the basis of an hourly
wage. As used in this chapter, the term “employee” shall not include a person who is paid an
annual salary, and shall not include employees who are working pre-scheduled “on-call time” in
the surgical department of a health care facility.
(2) “Employer” means a person, partnership, association, corporation or group of persons
acting directly or indirectly in the interest of a health care facility;
(3) “Health care facility” means any private, public or state hospital;
(4) “Regular hourly wage” means the amount that an employee is regularly paid for each
hour of work as determined by dividing the total hours of work during the week into the
employee’s total earnings for the week, exclusive of pay for overtime work;
(5) “Unforeseeable emergent circumstance” means an unpredictable occurrence relating
to health care delivery that requires immediate action, and which shall include a major power
outage, a public health emergency, an irregular increase in patient census, or an irregular increase
in the number of employees not reporting for predetermined scheduled work shifts.
(6) “On-call time” means time spent by an employee who is not working on the premises
of the place of employment but who is compensated for availability or who, as a condition of
employment, has agreed to be available to return to the premises of the place of employment on
short notice if the need arises.
(7) "Reasonable efforts" means that the employer shall: (a) seek persons who volunteer to
work extra time from all available qualified staff who are working at the time of the
unforeseeable emergent circumstance; (b) contact all qualified employees who have made
themselves available to work extra time; and (c) seek the use of per diem staff.
23-17.20-3. Overtime requirement. -- (a) No health care facility as defined above shall
require an employee to accept work in excess of an agreed to, predetermined scheduled work shift
of eight (8), ten (10), or twelve (12) hours.
(b) No health care facility shall require an employee to work overtime in excess of an
agreed to, predetermined scheduled work shift of eight (8), ten (10), or twelve (12) hours, except
in an unforeseeable emergent circumstance. In no case shall a health care facility require an
employee to work in excess of twelve (12) consecutive hours. The refusal of any employee to
accept such overtime work shall not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, or any
other penalty or employment decision adverse to the employee.
(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit voluntary overtime in excess of an
agreed to, predetermined scheduled work shift of eight (8), ten (10), or twelve (12) hours.
(d) The provisions of this section shall not apply in the case of an unforeseeable emergent
circumstance when: (1) the overtime is required only as a last resort and is not used to fill
vacancies resulting from chronic short staffing; and (2) the employer has exhausted reasonable
efforts to obtain staffing.
(e) The requirement that the employer shall exhaust reasonable efforts to obtain staffing
shall not apply in the event of any declared national, state or municipal emergency or a disaster or
other catastrophic event which substantially affects or increases the need for health care services.
23-17.20-4. Penalty for violations. -- Any employer who violates or fails to comply with
any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of three hundred dollars ($300) for
each violation of this chapter, which shall be paid to the center for health professions, as
established in section 23-17.20.2. Until such time as the center for health professions is operating,
the fines shall be payable to the general fund. The department of labor and training shall
determine if a violation of this chapter occurs, and shall levy the appropriate fine.
23-17.20-5. Collective bargaining agreements. -- The provisions of this chapter shall
not negate any employee rights or benefits existing under collective bargaining agreements.
23-17.20-6. Severability. -- If any provision of this chapter, or the application of any
provision to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the remainder of the chapter and the
application of the provision to other persons or circumstances are not affected by the invalidity.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect on March 4, 2008.