Every Nurse Needs to Know Their Overtime Compensation Rights

Galvin B. Kennedy
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Galvin Kennedy is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice to overtime and wage claims.
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While nursing can be a very rewarding and satisfying field, it also often requires long hours. Nurses must undergo a great deal of A Nurse Sitting at a Desk and Filling Out Paperworkschooling and training to do their jobs, and once in the field, have a significant amount of responsibility. Despite these facts, they may still be entitled to overtime compensation when they work more than 40 hours per week in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees may try to claim that nurses are exempt from overtime because they are salaried or because they are “learned professionals.” A nurse who suspects that he or she is being unfairly denied overtime, however, should not accept that explanation and should instead pursue an opinion from a knowledgeable legal professional.

4 Helpful Guidelines for Nurses With Regard to Overtime Pay

If you are a nurse, it is important to educate yourself about your rights with regard to wages and compensation. The following are four helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Just because you are a nurse does not mean that you are not entitled to overtime compensation. All eligible employees who work more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime. Whether or not you are eligible depends on your job duties and the hours that you worked. It does not depend on your job title.

  2. If you provide in-home care for elderly patients, you are not automatically exempt from being entitled to overtime compensation. However, there is a companionship exemption that may apply so it is important to consult with an attorney. The exceptions for the companionship exemption may include certain services, such as household work, meal preparation, laundry, and bed making. When general housework exceeds 20 percent of the total weekly hours that you work, you are not exempt from wage and overtime requirements. It is important to note that the companionship exemption is often applied incorrectly. An experienced attorney can help assess whether you have been improperly denied compensation.

  3. If you are a live-in health care worker, you may still be entitled to wage or overtime pay protections. The law in this area is complicated, however. To assess what your rights are, you must explain to your attorney your job title and duties. If you are a live-in domestic service employee, you are entitled to protections provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act, but may not be entitled to overtime compensation. It is important to seek a knowledgeable opinion, however, because simply relying on an employer’s opinion is not sufficient. If your job and duties do not meet the specific qualifications to be considered an exempt employee, you are still entitled to overtime compensation.

  4. If you are working in a hospice and travel frequently to patients’ homes, you may be entitled to overtime compensation. For example, if you spend extra time with patients, your employer may need to pay you at 1.5 times your regular rate for hours worked above 40 for the week.

If your employer owes you unpaid overtime compensation, we can help you recover what’s rightfully yours. We encourage you to reach out today for a free consultation at 855-947-0707.


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