Massachusetts Health Care Cost Bill Includes Restrictions on Mandatory Overtime For Nurses and the Use of Government Funds to Persuade Employees to Support or Oppose Unionization


On July 31, 2012, the Massachusetts House and Senate approved Senate Bill 2400, “An Act improving the quality of health care and reducing costs through increased transparency, efficiency and innovation” (the “Bill”). Among numerous other provisions, the legislation significantly restricts the ability of hospitals to require nurses to work overtime, and limits the use of government funds to persuade hospital employees to support or oppose unionization. The Bill has been sent to Governor Deval Patrick for signature; Governor Patrick has publicly indicated his intent to sign the Bill into law.

Mandatory Overtime

The Bill would prohibit mandatory overtime for hospital nurses other than in the case of “an emergency situation where the safety of the patient requires its use and when there is no reasonable alternative.” Hospitals would be required to report all instances of mandatory overtime, together with the circumstances requiring its use, to the Department of Public Health, and these reports would become public documents.

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