California Voters Approve Proposition on Ambulance Workers

Proposition 11 was passed Nov. 6. It will allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain on call during meal and rest breaks, being paid at their regular rates.

California votes passed Proposition 11 on Nov. 6. It will allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain on call during meal and rest breaks, being paid at their regular rates. It also would require ambulance providers to provide ambulance employees, such as paramedics and EMTs, with additional training.

The proposition explains that remaining on call means being reachable by a portable communications device during meal and rest breaks. The measure would require ambulance providers to pay workers at their regular rate during breaks, not make workers take a meal break during the first or last hour of a shift, and space multiple meal breaks during a shift by at least two hours. If a worker is contacted during a meal or rest break, the initiative says the interrupted break will not be counted toward the breaks the worker is required to receive. The measure would require ambulance providers to manage staffing levels sufficient to provide employees with the required breaks.

It would require ambulance providers to provide ambulance employees, such as paramedics and EMTs, with training related to active shooters and multiple casualties, natural disasters, violence prevention, and mental health.

The measure was proposed in response to a December 2016 California Supreme Court ruling in a case named Augustus v. ABM Security Services; the court ruled that employer-required on-call rest breaks violated state labor law, and that state labor law requires that rest breaks must be considered off duty and uninterruptible, including in the event of an emergency. While the case specifically applied to private security guards, the California Legislative Analyst noted that on-call break practices among EMTs and paramedics are similar to those of private security guards, and that several lawsuits alleging break violations had been filed against ambulance providers and remained unresolved. If the court's ruling were applied to ambulance employees, EMTs and paramedics would need to go off duty during their meal and rest breaks, and the analysis indicated ambulance providers would need to hire about 25 percent more ambulance crews to meet the requirements.

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