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Forced minimum hours between shifts? New York

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  • Forced minimum hours between shifts? New York

    Hello. I'm not sure if I've reached the right place for this question so if not, my apologies. I work as a paramedic in a hospital based EMS department in New York City. My question is regarding the amount of time off required between shifts. For example, we can work either single (8hrs) or double shifts (16hrs) as part of our schedule. Recently, the department instituted a policy (supposedly for safety reasons) whereby if you work 16 hours, you must be off 16 hours "before your next regularly scheduled shift". My first question is can an employee be forced to be off 16 hours after working 16 hours? Second, the way the policy is written and intended (as was stated to me when I addressed this issue with both my Operations Manager and Associate Director), is that if you work 16hrs you must be off 16hours before your next regular tour (i.e. part of your normal regularly scheduled shifts), but not if it's NOT a regularly scheduled shift. For example, if someone normally works M-F from 6a-2p as part of their regular schedule and wanted to pick up OT on one of those days from 2p-10p they would not be able to because they wouldn't have 16hrs off before their next regularly scheduled shift. Yet, if as part of their regular schedule, someone else worked from 6a-10p on Tues and would normally come back on Wed to work from 2p-10p, they COULD pick up an OT shift on Wed from 6a-2p with only 8hrs off in between two doubles because the requirement is 16hrs off before your next REGULARLY scheduled tour. In spite of this seeming to contradict the whole "safety" aspect of the policy, it's allowed (again, in spite of my attempting to address this issue with both my Operations Manager and Associate Director). My logic to them was that if the policy is being implemented for safety reasons, then that should be the policy all the time. I also mentioned to them that no other department in the hospital (including nursing or the hospitals' transfer ambulance service) had such a requirement.

    I hope it's not too confusing what I'm trying to explain/ask. Bottom line is my concern is that a policy that is supposedly for safety is, from a practical standpoint, not really being implemented. There are regular examples of people working back to back doubles with only 8 hours off in between and I've also seen someone who only has 7 hours off in between two 8 hour shifts as part of their regular schedule (is that legal?). Last but not least, there have been examples of people working 16hours, off 7 hours, then back again, and also someone who had already worked 16hours and was asked to stay another 4 hours. Does Labor Law address these issues? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm more than happy to read up on my own if you want to point me in the right direction for more information regarding these topics (although looking at NYS Labor Law site didn't help too much and I'm trying to do some legwork since my union didn't seem interested in helping me with this issue). Thank you for your time.
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