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Mandatory meetings and overtime California

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  • Mandatory meetings and overtime California

    I am a Paramedic employed by a private ambulance firm. Our employers look for different ways to trim how much they pay us and many of those ways are questionable. I will present three of them here:

    1) When we come back in to the station from our last call, dispatch notes when we arrive. Several times when this occurs we're in overtime. We still have a few things to do that are required to be completed (paperwork, putting equipment away, etc.), otherwise we can be suspended or fired (one Paramedic was recently suspended 48 hours for not completing one required form). These things take 15-30 minutes or so, more or less depending on what's left to be done. My partner is an EMT, with far less responsibilities. Whe he finishes his stuff, he clocks out. When I finally finish my stuff, I clock out a while later. Afterward, I find out that management has trimmed my clock-out time back to the time my partner clocked out ("we don't pay you to sit at the station and do paperwork you could have done in the field" -right, sometimes we run so much there literally isn't any time to do all of the paperwork in between calls!). Sometimes they will trim the time we clock out back to the time we informed dispatch that we arrived back in the station. There is no way we can correct anything or make notes on our time cards because it's all on computer and we're not allowed (by policy and by structure of the computer software) to make any changes to our time cards but management can. If we clock in/out so much as a minute late, there is a mandatory one-line statement that must be entered as to "why" in order to complete the clock-in/out procedure. But we cannot make any marks, statements or changes after that procedure is done. But the management can, and often does.

    2) Our company holds mandatory meetings (miss one and you're suspended or fired) once every three months. Because we work 24-hour shifts, we put in a minimum of 48 hours in a week (sometimes 72 or more). It's common to already have worked 24-48 hours in the week before attending the mandatory meeting. A good example: I work 24 hours, attend the mandatory meeting right after my shift for four hours, then go back to work the following day for 24 hours. That's 52 hours in total for the week. When the paycheck comes, it shows that the meeting was paid in straight time (sometimes it's paid in an "administrative" rate which is less than my normal wage but certainly more than minimum) and the 48 hours worked in the rest of the week are counted as 40 hours of regular, 8 hours of overtime. It's as if management doesn't count mandatory meeting hours as "working" or "shift" time. Apparently they don't allow a mandatory meeting to create overtime even though it adds to the total number of hours we're there at work in the week.

    3) I come in to work and clock in late (say, 15 minutes). The crewperson I am there to relieve is out on a late call (which probably came right at shift change or just after). Therefore, I'm waiting for up to an hour or more before the ambulance with the person I'm relieving comes back. My employer tells me NOT to clock in until the person I'm relieving comes back and clocks out. Meanwhile, I'm not allowed to leave ("what happens if you're gone and they come back ealier than expected and there's another call right there and then?"). The same situation occurs when we do a shift trade with someone. I come in on time (or even late) but I'm told NOT to clock in because the person I'm relieving is still out in the field on a call that was dispatched well before the shift change time or before I got there. So again, I'm waiting for up to 1-2 hours off-clock but required to be at the station. The company approved the shift change well in advance and their response to this pay situation is "you two work it out between yourselves, we're not responsible to pay you because it's YOUR shift trade arrangement". But it's not OUR fault that person got held over... he stayed at work as required and I reported to work on time as required as he would have if even if it weren't for a shift trade. In other words, despite their inefficient call scheduling (it happens a lot and we do scheduled, non-emergency runs), they don't want to pay me regular time AND the other person overtime simultaneously. I can understand that but I don't think it's kosher in the eyes of the labor laws and our employers just don't seem to get it that they need to improve their call scheduling and dispatching processes to minimize, if not avoid, these situations in the first place.

    I hope that someone can provide his/her thoughts regarding any or all of these scenarios.


  • #2
    1. You must be paid for all hours worked, including doing the paperwork. Even if you COULD have done the paperwork in the field, the fact remains that you are doing it in the office (or whatever your home base is).

    I do question your statement about clocking out "a while later" after you finish your paperwork. You do NOT have to be paid for time on the clock if you are not actually working. Why do you do this?

    2. Mandatory meetings are hours worked and must be considered when calculating what overtime is due, although it is allowable to pay meeting time at a different hourly rate.

    3. If you are not allowed to leave, that is work time and must be paid. Regarding "trading shifts", my recollection is that there is an exception to the overtime requirements IF this is a governmental employer, such as a city or county. But not for private employers.

    You can file a claim for unpaid wages with the DLSE.
    Last edited by Pattymd; 05-25-2009, 03:15 PM.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


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