Tartaglione Says AG’s Findings on OT for Healthcare Workers ‘Outrageous’
HARRISBURG, April 23, 2015 – As one of the leading lawmakers who worked to address the issue of mandatory overtime for healthcare professionals, state Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione said the revelation that the 2009 law has not been followed is bad news for patients and workers.
Auditor General Eugene De Pasquale released his audit of the Department of Labor and Industry’s oversight of Act 102. His auditors concluded that L&I woefully missed deadlines for establishing the new regulations and that it was not a priority of the Corbett administration-era agency to do that.
“It’s outrageous that patients and workers were at risk even though the legislature had acted to protect them,” Sen. Tartaglione said. “People have needlessly suffered as tired healthcare professionals did the best they could to care for them,” she said.
The good news, Tartaglione said, is that Act 102 is now a priority as L&I Secretary Kathy Manderino said she will be hiring five people to do the required oversight “to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Tartaglione proposed Senate Bill 835 in 2007. The bill that then-Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law on Oct. 8, 2008, was the companion legislation, House Bill 834.
As she said when she introduced her bill, the need for the law existed because healthcare professionals who protested too many shifts of long hours risked losing their jobs.
“Nurses and other caregivers are committed to their patients first and foremost. They also know their limits,” Tartaglione said on the floor of the Senate in 2007. “Asking a nurse to volunteer for extra hours is a completely different scenario than mandating them to work whether they feel competent to continue or not.”
AG De Pasquale said his auditors found:
- Despite a legal mandate requiring L&I to promulgate regulations by April 1, 2010, these regulations were not actually promulgated until July 19, 2014, or some four years after the required due date. And,
- L&I failed to accurately record, investigate and respond to all Act 102-related complaints it received between July 1, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2014.
Act 102 prohibits a health care facility from requiring employees to work more than agreed to, predetermined and regularly scheduled work shifts. Employees covered under Act 102 are individuals involved in direct patient care or clinical care services who receive an hourly wage or who are classified as nonsupervisory employees for collective bargaining purposes.
New York, West Virginia and New Jersey, by comparison, were able to more quickly implement laws dealing with mandatory overtime.