Do You Work In The Healthcare Industry? How To Make Sure You Are Being Paid Correctly

The U.S. Department of Labor explains in Fact Sheet #17N when Nurses are considered exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The FLSA requires that most employees be paid the federal minimum wage for all hours worked, and overtime pay at time and one half of the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees who are employed as bona fide executives, administrators, and outside sales employees. However, to qualify as an exempt employee you must meet certain criteria regarding your job, and be paid a salary base of not less than $455 per week.

For a Nurse to be exempt he/she must be compensated with a salary or a fee rate of not less than $455 per week. The Nurse’s primary duty must be one that requires advanced knowledge that includes a consistent exercise of discretion and judgment.  The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science; and customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and defined by the kind of tasks he/she is doing on a daily basis. Merely possessing an advanced academic degree is not a standard prerequisite to be exempt from overtime pay; but rather the duties would include a multitude of clerical tasks therefore the Nurse may be eligible for overtime pay. Registered Nurses, and other health care professionals who are paid at an hourly rate of pay should receive overtime compensation.

Frequently Registered Nurses and other healthcare workers have tasks beyond their regular work hours and not receive  the correct rate of pay.  When computing the amount of work of an employee the Department of Labor follows the guidelines under the FLSA and looks at the amount of time spent in principal activities and other activities. Time spent in principal activities include those which the employee is required to perform during his or her regularly scheduled administrative workweek. 5 CFR 550.112.  Any activity that closely relates to the principal activity that a Nurse performs that exceeds more than 10 minutes before or after his/her shift should be taken into account for additional compensation. Other work hours that Nurses and healthcare workers perform if not exempt under the FLSA include: time worked on principal activities or closely related activities during scheduled meal breaks, training not included in regular work hours, and or any conference calls or meetings that they are expected to attend outside of a Nurse’s principal work hours. Fact Sheet #31.  Many Nurses work “call back” hours and are usually paid more than their regular rate of pay for returning to work and working those hours. Under the FLSA guidelines any hours accrued should be added to the total hours worked per week when calculating overtime.  

Often employers may fail to  pay the correct amount to their Nurses or other healthcare employees, as many hospitals and private care providers have systems that automatically deduct for lunch breaks which results in the employee not being paid for that time worked.  In other cases, employers may oversee call back hours actually worked and fail to include them when adding regular hours for overtime purposes. These are all violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA). The FLSA allows for the doubling of all unpaid overtime.

We highly recommend speaking to an Attorney should any of the above mentioned facts apply to you, as you may be entitled to overtime compensation.

By: Daniela Carrion