Different HealthCare Employee Classifications And Overtime Eligibility

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by Attorney, Tim Becker

Overtime in the Healthcare Field

Overtime is common in the healthcare field. With worker shortages throughout the industry, many employees find themselves working overtime on a regular basis. However, it can be difficult to determine which jobs are eligible for overtime pay, and which positions are not.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that many professionals working in the healthcare field find themselves subjected to mandatory overtime. This makes proper compensation for time worked especially important.

Many of the rules governing overtime in the healthcare field are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and WageAdvocates.com states that employers who deviate from FLSA rules can be held accountable. To help you understand your overtime rights, here are some general guidelines to clarify the issue.

Overtime Exemption for Nurses

To be considered exempt from overtime requirement, a series of tests, as set by the U.S. Department of Labor, must be met including:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary of fee basis (not paid hourly)
  • The employee must perform work requiring advanced knowledge as their primary job duty
  • The advanced knowledge required of the employee must be in a field of science or learning
  • The advanced knowledge must be acquired through a prolonged course involving specialized instruction in the key intellectual areas

Unless those provisions are met, the employee can be considered eligible for over time. For details based on the various healthcare professions, please continue below.

Student Nurses

Anyone holding a position as a student nurse is exempt from overtime legislation. Since the activities are considered part of an educational program, standard overtime rules do not apply.

Registered Nurses

Registered Nurses (RNs) may be eligible for overtime depending on how they are paid. RNs paid on an hourly basis should receive overtime pay for hours worked outside the standard full-time work week maximums.

However, a state-registered RN who is paid a salary of no less than $455 per week can be classified as exempt. If considered exempt, the RN would not be eligible for overtime pay.

Licensed Practical Nurses

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) often does not qualify as exempt, as the possession of an advanced degree is not a requirement for entry into the profession. Therefore, LPNs, in their profession, do not tend to meet the advanced knowledge requirements as outlined by the U.S. Department of Labor regardless of the level of experience or education the individual may possess. This makes LPNs entitled to overtime compensation.

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

As of January 1, 2015, home health aides and personal care aides who work in the private homes of their patients were deemed eligible for overtime as long as one of the following criteria was met:

  • The aide is an employee of an agency
  • The aide provided medically related services
  • More than 20% of the workday involved assisting with activities like dressing, driving, feeding, grooming, and light housework
  • The aide performs work for any other member of the household besides the person they are assigned to assist

Those who do not meet any of the above requirements may be deemed exempt from overtime compensation requirements.

Determine Work Hours

Once you determine if your position is eligible for overtime, you need to make sure your working hours are properly tracked. When determining your hours worked, all of the following activities can be included:

  • Pre/post-shift duties
  • Travel time during work hours between job sites
  • Work-related meetings
  • Work-related training

Certain times, such as required meal periods or time spent asleep may not qualify as working hours. Variances in state law may dictate whether any breaks qualify as paid work time or if they can be considered unpaid and not countable towards the total number of working hours performed by an employee.

Once an employee has worked more than 40 hours in a standard seven-day work week, they can be eligible for overtime. Those working in nursing homes or residential care facilities may be eligible for overtime after working 8 hours in a single day, or over 80 hours in a standard 14-day pay period.

Overtime Pay

Overtime must be paid at a rate of regular time and one-half for hours work beyond 40 hours in a standard seven-day work week. Regular time must include the appropriate additional compensation, such as bonuses and shift differentials.

Author Bio:

Tim Becker Partner at Minneapolis’ Johnson // Becker PLLC, and lead sponsor of WageAdvocates.com. He is committed to providing clients effective, aggressive legal representation, and has prosecuted numerous individual FLSA violation claims.

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4 Responses to Different HealthCare Employee Classifications And Overtime Eligibility

  1. Anonymous says:

    So what about on call? FLSA says if you are not required to stay at the place of employment, you are not eligible for oncall pay? I work home health…. every agency I have ever worked for paid for you to take call. You can’t leave your “work area”, you must be fit for duty ( can’t take medicine, drink alcohol, etc) and must be ready to go 24 hours/day during that time. My call runs 7 days, on top of my exempt 40-60 week hours, but my current employer will not pay for that time on call. You get paid by the visit, but not for the time?

    • Tim Becker says:

      Great question, so employees who are required to remain on an employer’s premises while on-call are “working” under the FLSA and should be paid for that time. If you’re allowed to stay at home while on-call, the situation becomes more complicated. It’s really about how much being on-call restricts your freedom. If your employer’s on-call policies make it impossible for you to effectively use the time for your own purposes, it’s more likely that a court will consider those hours compensable. But this will always be a fact-specific issue, one ultimately decided by the courts.

      • Thank you, Tim. I wonder if it has ever been tested in the courts. I used to be the Nursing Supervisor and on call all week end for a home health company and it was very stressful. I got paid, but it was something like 2 dollars/hour.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you Tim, I guess I will Ave to decide if it’s worth pursuing.

What are your thoughts?