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Lack of work Tennessee

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  • Lack of work Tennessee

    I currently work as a nurse for a hospital. In the past, if the number of patients in the hospital or on our unit was low then they would call off a nurse from work. However, the nurse was given what the hospital calls a 4 hour LOW (lack of work). During those 4 hours the nurse is required to respond to the hospitals phone call at an undetermined time between 7-11 to let the nurse know if he/she would be required to come into work. If the nurse was not needed by 11 o'clock then the hospital would relieve the nurse from duty for the day. Now, the hospital is stating that the 4 hour low will be give in 4 hour increments. If the nurse is not needed by 11o'clock then the hospital has the right to call the nurse between 11oclock an 3o'clock to determined if the nurse will be required to come into work at 3 o'clock. So in theory the employees entire shift 7-7 the nurse would be held accountable for coming back in to work. Can they do that? Is that legal to keep an employees entire day tied up, wondering if they will have to go into work?

  • #2
    Yes, it's legal.
    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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    • #3
      Does that mean the nurses are on call? Is the hospital responsible for paying on-call pay?

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      • #4
        There's no formal, legal definition of what is considered on call. I don't think that's an unreasonable assessment of the situation, however.

        I don't know what your contract, union or otherwise, may say about on-call pay. As far as the law is concerned, on-call pay is not due just because they are on call. Pay is only due if they are either called in to work, or if their time is "unduly restricted" as your state has chosen to define it.

        In this day of cell phones and pagers, it's harder these days than it used to be to claim an undue restriction. Being unable to leave the immediate area and being unable to drink alcohol (I know you didn't mention this but sooner or later it always comes up) are two examples of things that have been found by multiple courts NOT to be "unduly restrictive".

        Can the nurse give her cell phone as the means to reach her, put her (or his - my BIL was an emergency room nurse for 23 years) cell phone in her (or his) pocket and go shopping, or to a movie (with the cell on vibrate, of course) or to visit a friend? Yes? Then 99 time out of 100, that will NOT be seen as unduly restrictive and no pay will be due unless the nurse is actually called into work.
        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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        • #5
          Tennessee labor laws do not address the issue of hours spent on-call directly, but rely on the Fair Labor Standards Act to regulate on-call time.

          You may be placed on-call without pay, as long as you are able to continue your everyday routine.
          Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

          Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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          • #6
            RE Lack of work Tennessee

            Regardless of legality, the hospital would be wise to re-evaluate this system. As described, the situation will, in the long run and perhaps sooner depending upon their competition and labor supply in the area, result in an exodus of talent, leaving them short staffed which usually increases the chances of lawsuits. Best of luck to you.


            Originally posted by Dixie girl View Post
            I currently work as a nurse for a hospital. In the past, if the number of patients in the hospital or on our unit was low then they would call off a nurse from work. However, the nurse was given what the hospital calls a 4 hour LOW (lack of work). During those 4 hours the nurse is required to respond to the hospitals phone call at an undetermined time between 7-11 to let the nurse know if he/she would be required to come into work. If the nurse was not needed by 11 o'clock then the hospital would relieve the nurse from duty for the day. Now, the hospital is stating that the 4 hour low will be give in 4 hour increments. If the nurse is not needed by 11o'clock then the hospital has the right to call the nurse between 11oclock an 3o'clock to determined if the nurse will be required to come into work at 3 o'clock. So in theory the employees entire shift 7-7 the nurse would be held accountable for coming back in to work. Can they do that? Is that legal to keep an employees entire day tied up, wondering if they will have to go into work?

            Comment

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