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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was hired to work a 32hour a week day shift in a hospital

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I was hired to work a 32hour a week day shift in a hospital but now am asked to take 30 hours of on call work from 5pm to 7am week days and weekends 24 hours straight. These are busy on call hours working 12-18 hours of the 24 hour shift. Do I have the right to say no to these extra hours?
Good morning and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do everything I can to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear that your hostpial wants you to work these extremely long and understandably inconvenient hours.

Can you please tell me whether you are a union member or have a cotract which guarantees you a particular schedule for a set period of time?

I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes, we are in a union. The four of us were hired for day shift m-f. Our dept is closed after 5pm and weekends. They expect the four of us to cover the dept 24/7. After we asked for middle of the night coverage they hired a new shift. M-F 5pm-1:30 am and still expect us to do middle of the night. In nursing units call coverage is voluntary. Most other dept. have graveyard shifts. We've been doing it for 20 years and its gotten too busy and our managers just expect us to keep doing it. I will take some call but not middle of the night anymore and I feel it should be voluntary. I don't mi d working over time and some day weekend call but I want the choice with out my job being threatend.

Thank you very much for your reply. As a union member with a contract that designates your hours you do have certain legal protection here. Specifically, your employer cannot unilaterally change your schedule and force you to work late night on-call shifts--they must engage in good faith negotiations with your union representative to make any modification to the work hours designated in your collective bargaining agreement.

Only after sufficient good faith efforts with no agreement being reached may the employer declare impasse and then implement the last offer presented to the union. This means that if your employer has any reasonable way of hiring another employee or distributing the late night on call shifts in a more equitable manner, they have a legal obligation to do so.

If your employer declares impasse in bad faith, you can file a charge of an unfair labor practice for failure to bargain in good faith with the NLRB. The NLRB will determine whether true impasse was reached based on the history of negotiations and the understandings of both parties and will revert back your schedule if it determines the impasse to have been a fabrication.

So, to answer your question directly, as union members you DO have the right to say "no" to these additional hours, since they are more than what your collective bargaining agreement prescribes. Through your union representative you must negotiate a schedule that is agreeable to the hospital and to you and your similarly situated co-workers, and only if you reach a legitimate impasse in negotiation may the hospital implement its final and best scheduling offer.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes and kindest regards.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your expertise. I have one more question. We've been taking the call for years but have only just joined the union two years ago. We don't have anything at this time in our union contract about call except the rate of pay. Nothing about hours. If we negotiate it in our next contract can we ask for any call we take beyond forty hours a week to be voluntary. Is it reasonable to ask for this or am I being nieve?


Thanks for your reply. You are free to reqeust that on-call time exceeding 40 hours a week be voluntary, but you are correct in your suspicion that this may not be a reasonable demand. Your employer only has an obligtion to negotiate in good faith--not necessarily to comply with a given scheduling request.

If they are forced to choose between forcing more than 40 hours of on-call or hiring more employees and hiring more employee would be a substantially more expensive option for the hospital, they would likely be within their rights to deny the request. Still, this doesn't mean there is any harm in asking--the worst thing your employer can do is propose a reasonable alternative.

Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Kindest regards.
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