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Ambulance Employees Can Stay On-Call During Work Breaks

Published Thursday, January 31, 2019
by Gail Cecchettini Whaley, Esq.

LA AmbulanceOn November 6, 2018, California voters passed Proposition 11 creating the Emergency Ambulance Employee Safety and Preparedness Act (located at Cal. Labor Code §§ 880 – 890). Under this proposition, private ambulance companies may continue their current practice of having emergency medical technicians and paramedics remain on-call (“reachable by a portable communication device”) during the entirety of their shift, including their meal and rest breaks, in order to respond to 911 calls and maximize the protection of the public.

Under the specifics of the act, all emergency ambulance employees are entitled to meal and rest periods as prescribed by the California Industrial Welfare Commission and must be compensated at their regular hourly rate of pay during those periods.

Additionally, an emergency ambulance provider:

• May not require an emergency ambulance employee to take a meal period during the first or last hour of a work shift.
• Must allow an emergency ambulance employee to space multiple meal periods during a work shift at least two hours apart (no stacking).
• Must manage staffing levels sufficiently to provide enough inactivity in a work shift for emergency ambulance employees to meet these requirements.

Any meal period that does not comply with these requirements will not be counted towards the meal periods an employee is entitled to during his or her work shift.

Moreover, while the employer can require the emergency ambulance employee to remain on-call if the employee is contacted during a meal or rest period that particular meal or rest period will not be counted toward the meal and rest periods the employee is entitled to during the shift. (If they aren’t contacted then the meal or rest break will count regardless of the fact that they had to remain on call.)

The act also requires private ambulance companies to provide emergency workers with the following annual training free of charge and with compensation during the period of required training:

• Responding to active shooter and mass casualty incidents.
• Responding to natural disasters.
• Preventing violence against emergency ambulance employees and patients.

Lastly, every emergency ambulance employee:

• Must receive employer-paid mental health and wellness education within 30 days of being hired and each calendar year thereafter.
• Is entitled to employer-paid mental health services through an employee assistance program for up to 10 mental health treatments per issue, per calendar year.
• Must have access to health insurance plans that offer long-term mental health treatment services.

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