Analysis of Bills:
House Bill (Surra)---
Applies to all health care workers, who are non-supervisory, not just nurses.
Defines "off-duty" as "an individual that has no restrictions placed on his/her whereabouts and is free of all restraint or duty on behalf of the health care facility". also see "on duty" clause in Bill.
Perceived weakness: My in-house counsel recommends that "teeth" be added to the enforcement of this Bill by providing nurses the right to institute a private complaint in the Courts to compell enforcement of the Act, should that be necessary.
Bill is quite unclear---presently awaiting return calls from PSNA (wrote bill); BORN (charged with enforcing it); Sen. M. White (introduced bill); Sen. Don White (co-sponsored bill).
Bill applies to RN's only and amends the Professional Nurse Law under the BORN. This brings up many concerns as to how this Bill would be enforced, since to my knowledge, the BORN does not take action against health care facilities. The Bill calls for sanctions provided by the FLSA. I have been advised by Wage & Hour that state law CAN NOT call for federal sanctions. Therefore, it is assumed that this Act calls for sanctions LIKE those in the FLSA---but not administered by them. I am advised that to enforce this Bill, a nurse would have to make a complaint to the BORN who would then have to decide whether to take it to the Attorney General. The Attorney General would have to make an independent investigation and decide whether to take action. The Bill is lacking in records management, system for registering complaints and enforcement power.
The Act also does not define maximum hours of work, but states a nurse will not be required to work beyond "an agreed upon, predetermined, regularly scheduled full-time or part-time work schedule, as determined by contract, established work scheduling practice, policies or procedures. This certainly leaves a lot open to interpretation in scheduling, particularly in non-union facilities.
When I receive further clarification of this Bill from the above parties, I will post it.
8/16/01 Spoke to practice advisor for BORN. She stated the BORN will not comment on legislation, but she believed there was a provision that the BORN "could" take action against a health care facility, although to her knowledge they have never done so in the history of the BORN. Referred me to the BORN attorney, Martha Brown, awaiting return call.
8/17/01 - Spoke to Dr. Rohrer of PSNA. FLSA sanctions refer to the public and monetary sanctions of a section of the FLSA---however, they would not enforce, nor have any part in the sanctions. Takes a long term view. There is no provision in this Bill for any enforcement, it merely changes Nursing Law (once again leaving nurses between a rock & hard place. States the BORN will not be enforcing this Bill--nor does she forsee it going to the Attorney General. Believes the Board of Health would ultimately enforce the Bill, but regulations would have to be written for this to happen. Spoke in terms of years for all this to occur. State she would relay my concerns to the attorney who wrote the Bill for PSNA.