Health care employers in New York are barred from requiring nurses to work beyond their regularly scheduled shift with some exceptions under a law taking effect on Thursday.

Exceptions include a health care disaster, an emergency declaration, or when required for safe patient care during an emergency or ongoing medical procedure. 

Employers are also required to tell the state Department of Labor when exceptions to the overtime law are being used. More reporting is required to state officials when exceptions are in use for 15 days or more in a given month and 45 days or more during a three-month period. 

The state Department of Labor called the limitations on mandatory overtime rules a needed measure in order to stave off burnout for nurses more than three years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Nurses are the backbone of our state’s health care system,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “We need to recognize their invaluable contributions by ensuring they have the support and protections they need to do their job effectively. This new law prevents burnout and empowers these essential workers to continue providing exceptional care to New York families statewide.”

New York has struggled with retaining health care staff over the last several years, with officials blaming a mix of vaccine requirements as well as worker fatigue. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul last year called for measures to boost the state's health care workforce by 20% over the next five years.