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Hi, I am a nurse in Tennesse, I work in the hospital. How many hours can I legally work, before I should have an 8 hour break

Memphis, TN |

I typically work twelve hour shifts, however from time to time we are asked to work 20 hours or more, I was wondering, because of being extremely tired and not able to focus as well, what is the legal amount of time we can work before we ask for a 4/6/ or 8hr break

Attorney Answers 1


I don't know of any such requirements for nurse in Tennessee. Pilots have such requirements to ensure their safety, and it would be a good idea for nurses and patients in Tennessee.

You should talk to your Human Resources department. What you are describing can't be good for the patients.

Tennessee is not mentioned as a state with a restriction on the American Nurses Association web site which states:

"ANA’s position on Mandatory Overtime may be found at its ANA Workplace Advocacy page.
Introduced During 2011 – 2012

Florida HB 305 / SB 454 protections included in this staffing bill, referred to as the Flordia Hosptial Patient Protections Act.
Illinois HB 1164 provides that no nurse working for a state agency who is paid an hourly wage and who has direct responsibility to oversee or carry out nursing care or related duties may be required to work mandated overtime except in the case of an unforeseen emergent circumstance when such overtime is required only as a last resort, and limits the time of such overtime. Also stipulates if a nurse works 12 consecutive hours, the nurse must be allowed at least 8 consecutive hours of off-duty time before returning to duty. Protects nurses from retaliation if refusing mandated overtime.
Massachusetts HB 1469, SB 543 ,SB 539, SB 1151 restricts use of mandatory overtime, as a provision of a much broader bill that includes staffing, safe patient handling and other areas. HB 1506 also includes definition for mandatory overtime and it restricted use for federal or state emergencies and affords protections from retaliation for refusing. HD 1294, SD 1768, SB 2210.
New York AB 410 seeks to add existing protections for home care nurses. SB 1134 includes language in Safe Staffing for Hospital Care Act
Pennsylvania SB 438 the Health Care Facilities Act, restricts the use of mandatory overtime to fulfill the staffing ratios outlined in the bill.
Vermont HB 313 includes restrictions to use of mandatory overtime and provides for penalties in this predominantly safe patient handling bill.
States with Restrictions

Sixteen states have restrictions on the use of mandatory overtime for nurses
Fourteen identified restrictions in law: AK, CT, IL, MD, MN, NJ, NH, NY, OR, PA, RI, TX, WA, and WV, while two states have provisions in regulations: CA and MO.
NC (2009) legislated the study of mandatory overtime as a staffing tool.

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