Hospital Breaks

Hospital breaks are extremely necessary for nurses facing long, grueling hours on their feet. Many in the nursing profession are familiar with toll a long shift can take on their mental alertness and focus while on the job. For this reason, some states have enacted mandatory rest breaks for hospital workers. However, federal guidelines do not require rest breaks for nurses and employers are within their rights to refuse hospital breaks for employees regardless of the length of the shift or the nature of the work.

States having enacted mandatory rest breaks for hospital nurses usually require employers to allow workers a reasonable amount of time within which to relax and regain mental focus. The breaks are typically shorter than 20 minutes and are usually unpaid. Meal breaks for hospital nurses last 30 minutes or longer and may be paid or unpaid depending upon whether the nurse is completely relieved of his or her duties while on the break.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act provides employer guidelines with regard to rest breaks for hospital nurses. The current edition of the Act does not require an employer to provide employees with breaks. Many employment contracts provide for these breaks in an effort to promote efficiency and positive workplace relations.

Nurses working long hours in hospitals and not receiving mandatory rest breaks are beginning to assert their rights against employers. Both individual and class action lawsuits have been filed against hospitals and supervisors who disallow nurses to take the ten- or twenty-minute break they deserve. Nurses falling within this category are urged to contact an employment attorney with the requisite experience necessary to hold employers accountable for failing to make time available for mandatory and necessary rest breaks.

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