My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Texas
I work for a large private ambulance company in the state of Texas. By large I mean they cover several counties for 911 coverage and staff 30 ground transfer ambulances. They also operate over 5 helicopters and one airplane. I hold 2 full times jobs. I am a career fireman for a slow to moderately busy city, meaning between 3 stations we run about 10 city wide calls per day. After my 24 hour shift I then work another 24 hours shift on a 911 truck at the private ambulance service where we average 1-2 calls per 24 hour shift. Not very busy with lots of chances to catch up on rest. In the 6 years I have been doing this, I have never had a problem getting enough rest.
My question is in regards to a new policy that just came out. As of right now it has not caused me to loose pay but after speaking to a supervisor it will soon. They are demanding that the fireman change shifts which is harder than you think. My FD only allows this once a year. To change shifts with another employee at this company, you must get approval from management.
The policy says that you must obtain 8 hours of un-interrupted sleep before you are allowed to work at the private ambulance company. This applies to all members, not just the handful of fireman they also employ. If you do not have un-interrupted sleep you are not allowed to work that shift causing you too loose 24 hours of pay. My family typically only gets 6-7 hours of sleep. Even when we take time off and go on vacation that is the most we get.
I am failing to see how this is legal. I understand completly their "safety" aspect. What I dont see if that my time off is my time. How can they tell me what I can do.
I am going to copy the email that went out below..
[I]Yesterday, the CEO, Ground Management, Compliance, Clinical Services and Safety met to resolve a Safety Concern specific to your operation. The concern is that employees have been working in excess of 24 continuous hours in violation of Policy 7.1.1 (Staffing and Scheduling). This concern was investigated and determined to be valid in some cases.
A few months back, we made changes to Policy 7.1.1. The changes focused on using a risk mitigation strategy to ensure that medics extended over 24 hours of continuous duty were adequately rested. The risk mitigation procedure is this: In order for a medic to volunteer for or to be extended by the supervisor beyond 24 hours of continuous duty, the employee has to have had an equal number of hours of uninterrupted rest in their base. Ie. If the employee gets 1 hour of rest in base, he/she can work 1 additional hour after their scheduled 24 hour shift. This formula is extended when the employee has had 8 hours of uninterrupted rest. If the employee has 8 hours of rest at their base, they can be extended up to 12 hours.
The policy places responsibility both on you and your supervisor.
1. If you have not received adequate opportunities for rest as detailed above and in the policy, you cannot accept extended duty.
2. You cannot in advance, schedule yourself for over 24 hours of continuous duty.
3. You are responsible for showing up to start your shift rested—leaving other employment then starting a 24 hour shift here without 8 hours of rest in between is unacceptable.
4. In order for supervisors to extend you beyond 24 hours, the supervisor must verify and document that you received the required rest.
In the coming weeks, Ground Management and Safety will develop a tool for supervisors to use in determining what is allowed per our policy.
Also we have begun the process of preparing the ground division for CAMTS accreditation! Below are the standards directly out of the book, as you can see there are strict requirements on scheduling and monitoring schedules.
01.08.01. Scheduling and individual work schedules demonstrate strategies to minimize duty-time fatigue, length of shift, number of shifts per week and day-to-night rotation. (See References for circadian rhythm and other fatigue studies.)
1. On-site shifts scheduled for a period to exceed 24 hours are not acceptable. Twenty-four hour shifts are acceptable if:
a. Medical personnel are not required to routinely perform any duties beyond those associated with the transport service.
b. Medical personnel are provided with access to and permission for uninterrupted rest after daily medical personnel duties are met.
c. The physical base of operations includes an appropriate place for uninterrupted rest.
d. Medical personnel must have the right to call "time out" and be granted a reasonable rest period if the team member (or fellow team member) determines that he or she is unfit or unsafe to continue duty, no matter what the shift length. There should be no adverse personnel action or undue pressure to continue in this circumstance.
e. Management must monitor transport volumes and personnel’s use of a “time out” policy.
2. Personnel must have at least eight hours of rest (pilots must have ten hours of rest as consistent with Part 135 regulations) with no work-related interruptions prior to any scheduled shift of twelve hours or more. The intent is to preclude back-to-back shifts with other employment, commercial or military flying, or significant fatigue-causing activity prior to a shift.
3. The number of consecutive shifts and day to night rotation must be closely monitored by management for pilots, medical crews, communication specialists, ground ambulance drivers and aircraft maintenance personnel.
4. Policies should address minimum rest/duty time requirements for transports that are international or involve overnight stays, not to exceed more than 16 hours on duty in a 24-hour period OR a minimum of two medical team members to allow one member rest during the transport and insure another attends the patient. (FW)
5. Policies that address preparation for transport based on an available patient report and distance of transport (including international transports) to appropriately assess staffing and equipment/supplies needs.
6. Policies address crew interface so that team members are expected to stay alert on all legs of the transport, including at least one team member on empty legs, to assist the pilot in staying alert (especially in one-pilot operations) and the driver to stay alert for ground transports.