In this article, I’m going to tackle a question that I’ve seen asked fairly regularly and it’s “do nurses get paid overtime for 12-hour shifts? 

So, do nurses get paid overtime for 12-hour shifts? No, generally speaking nurses do not get paid overtime for working a 12-hour shift. There are exceptions to this and we’re going to cover those exceptions below. 

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Common Types of Pay Differentials You’ll See

  • Differential pay over 12 hours a day.
  • Differential pay over 8 hours a day. 
  • Differential pay over 40 hours a week.
  • Evening differential. 
  • Night differential. 
  • Weekend differential. 
  • Holiday shift differential.

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Federal Overtime Pay Mandate

What confuses a lot of nurses is that many times facilities will offer bonuses and extra pay to nurses that aren’t necessarily federally mandated. 

On top of that different states will have rules that slightly alter the requirements companies that are in the state have to do. 

Lastly, union nurses might have more favorable terms as well that rewards them for working longer days during the week. 

At a minimum according to the United States Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay after they have worked more than 40 hours in a workweek at a minimum rate of time and a half (source).

Some interesting notes about that is :

  • The workweek doesn’t have to be Sunday through Saturday (it just has to be a consistent recurring 168 hour periods or 7  consecutive 24 hour days). 
  • It does not require OT pay for weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) or holidays. 
  • Employers are generally not allowed to average those hours over a two week (or more) period.

That pretty much covers the bare minimum requirements you’ll probably see. 

Related Article: Comparing 8 vs. 12 Hour Nursing Shifts

Shift Differentials

The next thing I’m going to cover is the shift differentials you’re going to see. 

What are nursing shift differentials? Shift differentials are incentives hospitals give to nurses to encourage them to work during less desirable shifts.

Shift differentials aren’t necessarily standardized across the board though you might see some health systems standardize them across all their facilities.

What differentials each facility offers and how much they offer will vary. But typically what you’re going to see:

  • Evening shift differentials (extra money you’ll get for hours worked in the evening)
  • Night shift differentials (extra money you’ll get for hours worked during the night shift)
  • Weekend shift differentials (extra money you’ll get for hours worked on the weekend)

The differential rates as I previously mentioned will vary but as far as I’ve seen it can be anywhere from $1.00 to maybe $3.00 an hour. 

Many times you can stack the differentials also. So, for example, you work night shift and it’s Saturday night.

If night shift differential is $1.50/hr and weekend shift differential is $1.50/hr than for your night shift on Saturday night you would end up making an extra $3.00/hr on top of your hourly base pay.

Holiday Shift Differentials

This shift differential is for shifts you work during a holiday.

What counts as a holiday might vary per facility. So if your facility does offer holiday pay. Make sure you understand which holidays your facility gives shift differentials for.

Based on the previous example if the facility offered a $2.00 holiday shift differential than you could be making an extra $5.00 an hour if that Saturday night shift was also on a weekend.

Pay for Working Over 8 Hours a Day

Another question some nurses will ask about is usually related to extra pay just for working shifts over 8 hours a day (regardless of whether you’re working over 40 hours in a week)

The jobs I’ve personally have had was straight pay (or base pay) for 12-hour shifts or 16-hour shifts worked in a day. The exception was if there’s shift differential, overtime or holiday pay involved. 

There are some states or facilities where nurses will get shift differential if they work over 8 hours a day or if they work over 12 hours a day. 

What that differential is if any will vary so your best bet is to check with your facility or your nurse’s union (if you’re in one) to see what it is.

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Final Thoughts

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Hopefully, this article has helped you when trying to figure out if nurses get paid for 12-hour shifts (or 16-hour shifts). 

Let us know what your thoughts and experiences are related to this topic in the comment section below.

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