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If you are just starting out in the nursing practice, you’re probably finding how valuable your services can be — all day long! But, at the point your workload becomes overwhelming, it’s fair to wonder why you aren’t catching a break.

Because it’s so important that nurses are of sound body, mind and health while providing aid, West Virginia law has specific restrictions on the amount of overtime a nurse can work. Read on to learn if you are passing your quota.

Overtime maximum for nurses

According with West Virginia law, if you are a certified, licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse in a patient or clinical care setting, you:

  • Cannot work over 16 hours within a day (24-hour period)
  • Must be off duty for eight hours immediately after any shift lasting 12 hours or longer

Overtime Act responsibilities for hospitals

To comply with the Nurse Overtime Act, West Virginia hospitals must:

  • Provide adequate nurse staffing without the need to use mandatory overtime
  • Offer an anonymous way for patients and nurses to express problems with staffing that relate to patient safety

Hospitals are barred from:

  • assigning or coercing a nurse into accepting an assignment of overtime
  • retaliating against a nurse because of his or her refusal to accept an assignment of overtime

These standards have been put in place to keep a nurse’s judgment from jeopardizing patient or employee safety.


A nurse may work more than a 16-hour day or within eight hours of a 12-hour shift, if:

  • There is an unforeseen emergency that jeopardizes patient safety
  • Care for a single patient was already in progress and must be completed
  • Prescribed on-call time must be fulfilled


  • First offense — a reprimand
  • Second offense — a reprimand and a fine up to $500
  • Third and subsequent offenses — a fine between $2,500 and $5,000 for each violation

A second or third offense penalty is only charged if the previous violation occurred within twelve months of the subsequent offense.

Questions related to wages and overtime can be challenging to answer in West Virginia, because employers must follow both state and federal overtime rules. If you have questions regarding your pay, employment law attorney to discuss your uncertainty. When differences exist between the two sets of rules, employees are usually granted the most beneficial outcome. Employment law attorneys can provide you with the information you need to understand and secure your rights at work.


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