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Licensed Practical Nurses Overtime: An LPN’s Guide To Wages

Every year, thousands of licensed practical nurses are cheated out of the overtime they deserve. That’s not fair, right or legal.

It’s Time To Stand Up For Your Rights.

  • Are you getting paid for the “breaks” you work through?
  • Have you been told you’re not eligible for overtime?
  • Do you work in a private home? In-home LPNs are now entitled to overtime.

Are You Making Everything You’ve Earned?877-629-9275

There’s no such thing as being “just” an LPN. In hospitals across the nation, licensed practical nurses provide essential care to the patients who need it. Every nurse, no matter which words begin their official title, is valuable.

But some nurses aren’t being treated like the valued professionals that they are. Every year, thousands of LPNs are cheated out of their hard-earned pay by hospitals, nursing homes and physicians who choose to violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Are LPNs Entitled To Overtime?

Yes. The vast majority of licensed practical nurses are legally entitled to overtime pay.

Even LPNs who used to be exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act under its “companionship” exemption are probably eligible for overtime now. January 1, 2015 saw a sweeping change in the Department of Labor‘s thinking on in-home health care. In a major new guidance, federal officials extended overtime protections to the vast majority of licensed practical nurses who work in private homes.

Every LPN who works in a private home, but is employed by a third-party placement company, is now entitled to overtime, the minimum wage and all of the FLSA’s other benefits.

How Much Is Overtime For Licensed Practical Nurses?

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How much you deserve for your extra hours depends on how much you make regularly. If you get paid an hourly wage, your overtime rate will be one-and-a-half times that for any hours you work over 40 in a week.

These calculations can get pretty specific; if you get paid a bonus one week, and also work overtime during that week, your bonus might have to be included in figuring out your overtime wage.

In most states, nurses who work under a registered nurse or physician are called licensed practical nurses, or LPNs. But in California and Texas, these professionals are referred to as licensed vocational nurses, LVNs.

The 3 Step Test To Know If You Deserve Overtime Pay

Some nurses, notably registered nurses, are exempt from the FLSA’s wage and hour protections because of their more extensive formal educations. Since an advanced degree isn’t usually required to work as a licensed practical nurse, most LPNs won’t fall under this “learned professional” exemption themselves.

In rare circumstances, an LPN will be properly classified as a “professional” according to federal law. “Professionals” aren’t entitled to overtime wages. Here’s how to know if you’re exempt or not:

1. You Make A Salary

If you get paid a predetermined amount for each pay period, regardless of how much you actually work, you may be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements.

In most cases, that amount can’t be reduced for any reason: if you work at all during a week, you need to get paid your full salary that week. Employers can’t call you a “salaried employee” and then reduce that salary based on the quality of your work, either.

2. You Make At Least $455 Per Week

How much you get paid also matters. Your salary has to amount to no less than $455 for every workweek.

3. You've Gained Advanced Knowledge In Your Field

But to be a “learned professional,” it’s what you do at work, and what allows you to do it, that really matters.

Your primary duties need to:

  • require advanced knowledge
  • be mainly “intellectual” in nature
  • require the consistent exercise of “independent judgment”

Usually, the type of “advanced knowledge” the FLSA is talking about is acquired “by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.” The majority of courts use advanced degrees (beyond undergraduate) as a yardstick for this sort of knowledge.

3 Common Overtime Scams That Hurt LPNs

That’s the law on overtime for LPNs, but it’s not always followed to the letter. In fact, workers in nursing are extremely vulnerable to wage and hour violations. Here are three common scams that might be stealing right out of your pockets.

1. Working Through Breaks

It’s common practice in the healthcare industry to automatically deduct the length of a scheduled break from an LPNs hours worked. That’s not illegal, as long as your employer takes into account those breaks you have to work through.

But how often does that happen? More often than not, nurses end up working through their lunch or rest breaks, but don’t get paid for it! Every minute you work counts toward your hours and overtime wages.

2. Being A Nurse Makes You Ineligible For Overtime

It’s amazing how brazen employers can be. We’ve spoken to hundreds of LPNs who were just lied to about their exemption status.

Many nurses are told that because they work in healthcare, a field that requires special knowledge, they can’t make overtime. As we’ve seen, the “learned professional” exemption is pretty narrow, and almost never applies to licensed practical nurses.

3. Home Or Hospital?

It doesn’t matter anymore.

Some health care employers used to classify licensed practical nurses who cared for elderly or disabled patients in private homes as exempt under the FLSA’s “companionship” exemption. That’s no longer possible.

A new guidance from the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division says clearly:

“Trained personnel such as nurses, whether registered or practical, are not exempt from minimum wage and overtime under the exemption for companions, but registered nurses may be exempt as professionals.”

That’s a big change to a complex law, and it’s unclear whether or not every employer has come into compliance yet. Some LPNs who work in private homes may still not be getting the overtime they’ve earned.

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