Nurses dedicate their careers to caring for other people. Like the patients you serve, you too deserve appropriate care. You also deserve fair treatment and pay for your work. The state of California protects all nurses’ rights, whether you are a full-time or a temporary employee.
Paid sick leave
The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act protects paid sick leave in California. This law also includes temporary employees, so a temporary nurse qualifies for paid sick leave. The way you receive your paid sick leave may vary, but an employer must pay it out in one of these ways. Your employer could pay it out in a lump sum, based on how many hours you work, or your employer could calculate your sick leave accrual at a weekly or monthly rate.
Overtime and double time pay
Many nurses work a longer day than the standard eight hours. Under California law, employees working more than 8 hours in a day are entitled to an overtime pay rate of 1.5 times the regular pay rate. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Certain nurses, like certified midwives and nurse anesthetists, may be designated professional employees who do not qualify for overtime.
However, if you do qualify for overtime, and if you work longer than a 12-hour day, your hourly rate will double on all hours you work past 12. If you make $20 an hour, you will be paid $20 an hour for the first eight hours, $30 an hour for the next four hours, and $40 an hour for any hours over 12. Again, certain nurses do not qualify for this type of pay. If you work as a temporary nurse, you likely qualify for overtime pay.
As a nurse, you must periodically enroll in training. Your general training, such as for continuing education credits, is not paid time. However, if you receive training specific to your employer, you must be paid for this time.
Breaks and mealtimes
For every four hours worked, you are entitled to a 10-minute break. Employers must also provide you with a 30-minute meal break after five hours of work. If you work a shift longer than 8 hours, you may decide to waive your right to a second meal break. It is your right to do so, but you must formalize it with a written agreement.
Your employer must follow these guidelines to be in compliance with California law. If your employer fails to do so, you have the right to seek just compensation.