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Limit on Mandates for Mental Healthcare Workers? Massachusetts

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  • Limit on Mandates for Mental Healthcare Workers? Massachusetts

    Hello Everyone,
    I have a question that may be able to be answered here. I am a mental health counselor that works in a residential program which is run by a major state universty and is contracted by the state's mental health dept. (Technically = state worker) The question I had is that is there a limit to the amount of times that you can be required to stay for a double shift if the next shift does not come in (due to sick, scheduling issues, or no call no shows) ? I guess what I am trying to ask is that is there a legal statute or context that deals with the excessive use of forced overtime when the manager involved is blatently not following a written company standard (employee absence control) ? The background to this is that each individual on my shift was being mandated to stay an avg of once a week over the last three years. This is documented along with a few conversations that were had with two different levels of management that admitted it was excessive and that corrective action would be taken to find a solution to the problem. This obviously never happened and things were made worse afterward in areas such as discrete adverse treatment by said manager, along with the mandates reaching an all-time high of 9 times in one month. Recently this manager was pulled from his position due to other factors, but fearing that this could get worse I was wondering if there was any legal context to back up an argument. I know the loophole that management has put into the SOP book that says workers can be used as seen fit to ensure the safety of the program, but to me that still should not be the catch all net that they use to classify this. This abuse is causing all on my staff a great deal of psychological issue due to the anxiousness of wondering whether or not we will be able to go home in the morning. Also I wanted to work another job during the day and I am not able to with the way that they are using us. They are basically impeding our freedom and telling us that we cannot leave the program if people are not showing up. This is ridiculous, I understand the issues with safety but why are there ramifications for us if we say no up to and including termination. We are not a union establishment, but i have been told by people that are they can only be reqired to stay a max of 8 times in a year and then they can refuse. I need to know if I should escalate this to the university HR dept or would I just be blowing more smoke in the grand scheme of things. The only rebuttal that I can think they will use is that they have recently removed the manager from his position so this will change, but to me that is not enough, there should be a written policy. Thank for the help everyone!

  • #2
    The question I had is that is there a limit to the amount of times that you can be required to stay for a double shift if the next shift does not come in (due to sick, scheduling issues, or no call no shows) ?

    No, there is not; not in the law. If you have a contract that addresses it, that would be the only limitation.

    I guess what I am trying to ask is that is there a legal statute or context that deals with the excessive use of forced overtime when the manager involved is blatently not following a written company standard (employee absence control) ?

    No, there isn't. With very limited exceptions which do not apply here, neither MA or Federal law limits the amount of overtime an employee can be asked to work.

    why are there ramifications for us if we say no up to and including termination.

    Because the law gives the employer, not the employee, the right to determine what hours are worked. The ramifications you face if you refuse do include termination.

    i have been told by people that are they can only be reqired to stay a max of 8 times in a year and then they can refuse.

    There is no such law. That sounds like it might have been in someone's contract.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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