City of Seattle Shift Survey Participation – Due June 30, 2016

May 23, 2016

Date:                May 23, 2016

To:                   CEOs and CNOs in Seattle City Hospitals
Government Affairs Staff
Legal Counsel

From:             Claudia Sanders, Senior Vice President, Policy Development
Brenda Parnell, Acting Director, Rural and Policy

Staff Contact: Brenda Parnell, or (206) 577-1832

Subject:           City of Seattle Shift Survey Participation – Due June 30, 2016

To encourage you to participate in a City of Seattle survey on shift schedules.

The City of Seattle is considering new restrictions on shift schedules for those working in the city limits. As part of this effort, the city’s Office of Labor standards is conducting a shift scheduling survey for both employers and employees in the greater Seattle area. The survey is intended for all shift workers, and has the potential for significant impact on health care shift workers.

Based on the questions in the survey there could be impacts on meal and rest break and overtime issues, similar to what WSHA has spent years navigating in the Washington State legislature.  Hospitals and health systems have managed these issues through collective bargaining agreements and nurse staffing committees. In San Francisco, a similar effort resulted in penalties to employers that alter employees’ shifts with less than seven days’ notice.

All hospitals in the Seattle city limits.

While we have been successful in preventing a change in state laws on meal and rest breaks, nurse labor unions are currently pushing efforts at the state level to redefine the issue through new interpretative guidance.  At the same time the state-wide effort is proceeding, the city is now also looking at the broad issue of shift schedules.

Given the sensitivities around this issue, we urge hospitals to compete the city’s survey thoughtfully and thoroughly, . It is due by June 30th. It will take about 20-30 minutes to complete.  Please also send a copy of your response to

It is important to convey that hospital work is different than other shift work. While some shift work is very predictable and runs on a clear schedule, census fluctuations and emergencies in hospitals can be unpredictable. The need to staff a complex organization that is open to all who need it 24/7/365 makes for a unique work environment. Hospitals must be able to care for the patients in need while also working to operate an efficient business. Nurses and other health care workers have a professional obligation to ensure the care of their patients.

Again, hospitals as employers should complete the survey and consider whether some of your senior staff should complete it in their capacity as employees as well.

If you have questions, contact Brenda Parnell, at 206-577-1832 or

References & Contact Information
City of Seattle Survey Website:


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