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paid for time required to change uniforms Pennsylvania

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  • paid for time required to change uniforms Pennsylvania

    I am a registered nurse who works for a large hospital in Pittsburgh. We are required by our employer to change our clothes into hospital scrubs before and after our shift. They do provide us with scrubs. Some of us take our scrubs home to wash them as we are allergic to what the hospital washes them in. Our employer, however, does not allow us to change on the clock. We have to change before we clock in for our shift and clock out before we change to go home. This requires arriving early to leave time to change. They are now threatening us with disipliary action for wearing our scrubs to work and home because we are not allowed to change on the clock. Is this legal? Shouldn't we be allowed to be on the clock while changing since it is required for the job?
    Last edited by nursejp; 03-01-2009, 05:47 AM.

  • #2
    Since scrubs are not Personal Protective Equipment, I don't see that the changing time would be compensable. How long could it take to change? 5 minutes or less?
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    • #3
      I understand that it's very common for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to prohibit wearing scrubs home from work. Among other reasons, it's an infection control issue.

      I agree with Patty; it should only take a few minutes to change. Besides in most jobs, we are required to be at our workstations/assignments at the time our shift begins. This means getting to work a few minutes before the start of a shift to complete any "pre-work preparation." For me this is taking off my coat, filling my coffee cup, etc. For the OP this means putting on scrubs. I don't see a difference.


      • #4
        Similar situation in CA

        We have the same requirement at our hospital. I work in Surgery where we are required to wear hospital scrubs (not the cute scrubs you can buy on your own). The scrubs are stored in a machine that is a bit of a walk from our point of entry and our locker room. So when we arrive we have to get to the machine, get our scrubs, go back to the locker room, change and then we can work. Our employer is telling us they are not required to pay us to change. However, this is a minimum of a 6-8 minute process. We are not just donning scrubs, we are also required to put our hair into a cap and wear shoe covers. At a minimum, 6 minutes before the shift and after the shift total one hour at the end of a five day work week. Wearing the uniform and changing into it at work are absolute job requirements. It seems to me the employer should be paying employees for this time.


        • #5
          You could be right. Collectively these are referred to as "donning and duffing" rules. There is a not a hard "bright line test" here. Instead courts look at all factors and make a decision, which means that different courts with apparently similar facts have come up with different decisions. I get a bi-weekly newsletter that amoung other things discusses recent court decisions and the "donning and duffing" decisions tend to be all over the place. It is pretty easy for you (or your employer) to find a decision that says whatever you want.

          That is another way of saying that the rules tends to vary between states and court decisions. Even federal DOL rulings have had a certain inconsistent feel to them as reported. If you think you have a claim, file a wage claim with state DOL. Or talk to a local attorney. It might work. It might not.

          In the specific case of hospitals, the following rule should help. Of course, the opposing point is that the courts have said there is no "bright line" test, and all factors must be looked at. So the following rule is at best just one factor on the plus side.

          However, donning and doffing of required gear is within the continuous workday only when the employer or the nature of the job mandates that it take place on the employer’s premises. It is our longstanding position that if employees have the option and the ability to change into the required gear at home, changing into that gear is not a principal activity, even when it takes place at the plant. See FOH section 31b13 (dressing at home is not compensable).
          The original rule that started everything goes like this:

          If an employee must change clothes ("donning and doffing") while at work at the beginning and end of a shift, the time spent changing clothes is worktime if changing clothese is intergral and indispensable to the employee's principal activity. (Steiner v. Mitchell (1956) 350 US 247).
          While I would consider both of these "rules" to be pretty clearly written, apparently federal DOL and the courts do not, since they both often decide against the employee when the employee must change clothes on the employer's premises. Worse, I have read too many decisions where the facts as presented seem pretty much the same but decisions go either way.
          Last edited by DAW; 08-29-2009, 07:29 AM.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


          • #6
            Thanks, DAW

            Those are some good precedents for us to use with our boss.