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  • Lunch for emergency worker

    I work for a hospital based ambulance service in Iowa. We are required to take an unpaid lunch. My reading of the federal labor laws says that you must be relieved from all duties, both active and inactive. We are still required to respond to ambulance calls while at lunch. Under those rules, is my employer required to compensate me for the time I'm at lunch.

    As a side note, my employer states that we have no set meal break time. We work a 12 hour shift and their policy is that if we are not busy for any half hour time period during that day, that counts as our lunch break, even if it's from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.

  • #2
    My reading of the federal labor laws says that you must be relieved from all duties, both active and inactive. We are still required to respond to ambulance calls while at lunch. Under those rules, is my employer required to compensate me for the time I'm at lunch. Only if you actually respond to a call. Your employer doesn't have to pay for your meal break simply because you might be interrupted.

    As a side note, my employer states that we have no set meal break time. We work a 12 hour shift and their policy is that if we are not busy for any half hour time period during that day, that counts as our lunch break, even if it's from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Legal if silly. Who wants to take their lunch break at 6:00am if you're working the day shift? I couldn't find anything at Iowa's DOL website that suggested they have a State law that requires meal or rest breaks be provided but you're free to see if you can find something: http://www.iowaworkforce.org/labor/index.html No federal laws require that meal or rest breaks be provided.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the quick response

      Iowa does not require that we be given a meal break, the issue is they pay us for 12 hours out of a 12.5 hour day. If we're gone from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. without a break, they will say you weren't busy from 8:30 to 9:00, and that's your lunch.

      Added by edit:
      http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/whdfs22.htm
      I'm sort of new to this but this link seems to say that I must be relieved from all duties, both active and inactive. Under their definitions, inactive duty would be considered waiting for an ambulance call, unless I'm interpreting wrong. Thanks for the help.
      Last edited by iowamedic; 11-11-2005, 01:43 PM. Reason: Adding link and text

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      • #4
        Where do you wait for the call? What can you do during the meal period? Are your activites any different during the "meal period" waiting vs. your regular duty hours "waiting"?
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          My duties are exactly the same. We have a number of jobs around the hospital. Nearly every day we end up answering phone calls and going to do tasks. We are not relieved for lunch and if an ambulance call comes in, we respond. There's usually only one crew in house so we can't be relieved for lunch.

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          • #6
            Sounds like "engaged to be waiting" to me. You can contact the federal Dept. of Labor to confirm, but I believe, based on what you have stated, that this time should be compensable. The federal DOL can be reached (at least to start with) at 1-866-4-USA-DOL.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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