Meal And Rest Breaks

Ensure nurses receive uninterrupted meal and rest breaks so that they can provide the highest quality patient care.

Nurses intercept 86% of medication errors before there is harm to patients, and always find time to provide care and comfort that leave an impression on patients and their families – that’s why year after year, nurses are voted the most trusted profession.

Yet, nurses often work 10, 12 or more hours in a row – sometimes without time to take a break. Ensuring uninterrupted breaks that allow nurses to refocus and recharge can literally be a lifesaver – but breaks don’t happen unless there are enough nurses on shift. This bill requires that hospitals give nurses the uninterrupted breaks needed to ensure quality patient care.

Additionally, the mandatory overtime loophole needs to be addressed. After working a 10- or 12-hour shift, many nurses are being called back for mandatory overtime. On-call nurses have always been for emergencies, but in recent years on-call nurses are routinely filling in for chronic shortages because some hospitals don’t hire enough nurses to cover a shift. This isn’t safe – for nurses or patients. We know that nurses who work shifts of 12.5 hours or longer are three times more likely to miss things – putting patients at risk. This bill is needed for the safety of our nurses and – most importantly – for the safety of our patients.

HB 1715: Guarantee Rest Breaks & Limit Mandatory Overtime

January 11, 2018: Passed the House 56-42; see how your Representatives voted.

  • Require nurses be provided with uninterrupted meal and rest breaks, and says an employer may not require intermittent meal or rest periods.
  • Close the mandatory overtime loophole by clarifying that employers may not use prescheduled on-call time to fill chronic or foreseeable vacancies due to staff shortages.
  • Clarifies that employers may not schedule non-emergency procedures that would require overtime, such as schedule a 4-hour surgery that starts in hour 11 of a nurses 12-hour shift.
  • Limit on mandatory overtime in hospitals, hospice facilities, rural health care facilities, psychiatric hospitals, correctional (jail/prison) health care services, nursing homes and home health facilities.

Watch our conversation with the prime sponsor of our Rest Breaks Bill, Rep. Marcus Riccelli

WSNA member Ingrid Anderson, RN, talks about the importance of rest breaks for patient safety