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Ohio closer to prohibiting mandatory overtime for nurses

July 18, 2018

Columbus, OH — Legislation that would prohibit Ohio nurses from working mandatory overtime was approved by the state House on June 7.

The bill (HB 456), sponsored by Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay), would prevent hospitals from making mandatory overtime a “condition of continued employment.” It also would block facilities from firing, disciplining or retaliating against nurses who choose not to work past the conclusions of their shifts.

The bill does not prevent nurses from working voluntary overtime and makes exceptions for overtime during natural disasters and other unforeseen events.

“Fatigue can affect nurses’ ability to deliver optimal patient care,” the Ohio Nurses Association stated in a press release on Jan. 4, one week after the bill was introduced in the General Assembly. “Research demonstrates that fatigue causes an increased risk in errors, decline in memory, reduced ability to learn, and impaired mood and communication skills. Further, scientific evidence links long working hours to many health effects, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. House Bill 456 would give nurses the right to refuse overtime if they feel too fatigued to continue to provide safe patient care without fear of termination or licensure sanctions.”

The bill was introduced in the state Senate on June 11. If approved and then signed into law by the governor, Ohio would become the 19th state to ban mandatory overtime for nurses.