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Thread: Maximum Hours Allowed? Massachusetts

  1. #1
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    Default Maximum Hours Allowed? Massachusetts

    What is the maximum number of consecutive hours and employer can force and employee to work? I understand that employers may force workers to stay at the end of their shift but is there a limit? 24 hours? 36 hours? 48 hours? in a row? There must be a legal limit?
    Last edited by juswundrin; 09-01-2009 at 09:47 AM.

  2. #2
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    No, actually, there mustn't be and there isn't for general occupations. There are limits for occupations like airline pilots, OTR truck drivers, sometimes nurses. That's about it.

    Sorry this isn't the answer you probably wanted to hear.
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    so you are telling me the employers can make workers stay indefinately?

  4. #4
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    That's exactly right.

    MA is better than most states in that it does have a one day off in seven law, though even that doesn't apply across the board. But only two states, neither of them MA, has any limit to the number of hours that could be required in a week or a pay period, and NO state limits the number of hours that can be worked in a single day, with the exception of a few industry specific laws where there is a public safety factor (think long haul trucker and airline pilot). But technically, in 48 states including MA, you could legally be required to work 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, and in most states (excluding MA) you could legally be asked to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It would be foolish in the extreme, but it would be legal. All the state requires is that you be paid appropriately.

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    Wow, this is craziness. Thank you all for you quick responses. To narrow it down, this would pertain to an emergency services worker, specifically a paramedic. Part of the job is to DRIVE THE AMBULANCE. I find it incredible that it is legal to make him stay for and indefinite amount of time. Wouldn't this pose a public safety risk?

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    Now you're adding another fact to the story that we didn't have before. Maybe. Do you work for a private company or for a government entity?

    What are your duty hours? Do you have a chance to sleep if you are not called out?
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    Ok, here's the deal.

    Private ambulance company. A paramedic has finished his scheduled 24 hour shift. The company is unable to fill the next 12 hours. They mandate the paramedic for the next 12 hours with no notice placing him on a 36 hour shift (with the possibility to extend to 48 hours straight) . The paramedic is allowed to sleep, but has no guaranteed break or sleep allowances.

    There must be a limit. There is a definite risk to public safety.

    Again thanks for the responses.

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    I don't disagree that driving a vehicle after being awake (if in fact that is the situation on any given day) for 24 or 30 hours is definitely not wise, I think what you're going to find is that there just isn't any LAW that specifically addresses this situation.

    There may be a public policy component. OTOH, what is the company supposed to do? Not respond to a call because they don't have anyone to drive the vehicle? Just trying to see both sides here. also wondering, when this situation occurs, how often is it that you can't actually at least nap for an hour or two between calls? It's amazing what an hour of sleep can do for you (and I've done it personally, so I know) to keep you going for a short period of time.

    Actually, I was hoping (and I don't believe I'm saying this) that you were a union member and there was a CBA that addressed the situation.

    I'd be interested to hearing other experienced responder's opinions.
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    Thanks so much Patty for your input. Two more question for you to ponder.

    1. Would you, or one of your family members like to be treated during an emergency medical problem by a paramedic on his 35th hour of duty, regardless of whether or not there is a law that allows it?

    2. When that paramedic smashes into that tree on his 35th hour of duty, following a brief nap of course, would you like to be the lawyer representing the patient in the back? I think that ambulance company would be out of business.




    ps. There are other staffing options available to the company.

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    I'm not saying it's wise, I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying that there may not be a law or public policy that prohibits the employer from doing it.
    There's no need for sarcasm.
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    Please excuse the sarcasm. It was not meant to be confrontational. I am just trying to imagine all of this in front of a judge or a jury when the worse case scenario happens. I think the foolishness of the employers decision to extend the employees would cost him/her dearly.

    Even though a law does not exist to limit the hours, isn't there some type of "common sense" provision that is applied to most circumstances. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to make sense.

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    Apology accepted. That's what I meant about a "public policy" component. Unfortunately "common sense" and "illegal" aren't necessarily related. Just for curiosity's sake, what does the employer say about the possible safety issues? Has this been discussed?

    MA is not my state. cbg?
    Last edited by Pattymd; 09-01-2009 at 11:36 AM.
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    I am not aware if it has been discussed. I think this falls under the "there is no law that says we can't, so we will" category. Then something horrific happens, and a law is created.

    I don't think it happens all that much. I have been in the business for about 18 years and it has never happened to me. Most medics would just find some place else to work. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around it. That something that is so obviously wrong could be permitted to happen. Crazy.

    ps. what is cbg?

  14. #14
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    cbg is the moderator of this forum and Massachusetts is her state.

    Honestly, this is why employees form/join unions.
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    Oops. Didn't pick that up. Thanks. And thanks for engaging in the discussion. Please don't think i am some how picking a fight with you. I am not and again apologize for the sarcasm. This topic really irks me. To ask (make) someone work 36-48 hours straight and be away from there family and previous commitments for anything short of a natural disaster I think is wrong. And then to force them with the mantra of "we can make you" is dreadful.

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    No problem. And I'm not disagreeing with you. It's just that the law is what it is (and, much more commonly, what it isn't).
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  17. #17
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    Remember I told you that there were industry specific exceptions? And that they had to do with public safety? Were you paying attention?

    I don't know specifically if there is one for paramedics and ambulance drivers in MA, but I don't know that there isn't.

    I don't see this as being a public policy issue, but if I were you I would contact whatever agency licenses paramedics and ask them this question.

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