There is a law: it can be viewed at: http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs22.pdf (the 'regs' could be 'reqs') This law allows employers to withhold pay for time spent sleeping while on duty. My previous employer, and my new employer take advantage of this law. And to be sure, I might also if I were in their positions. (Hopefully not.) Additionally, my first EMS job was with an employer who also took advantage of this law. I have between these jobs worked for two systems where every hour was compensated. Enough background. I want to work to have this law removed from the books. If not, then to have it clarified and distributed to all EMS and fire providers so that no emergency response personnel are under such a draconian(?) ruling. Before I reinvent the wheel, does anyone have some substantiated commentary on this? Has it been shot down already and some people just haven't heard yet? I look forward to a rigorous discussion.

Tags: employee rights, full pay for full shifts, labor law

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This has already been stated, but it's my opinion as well...if you're there, away from your family and home, you're on the job and should be payed regular wage to do so. I never understood the services that call 0000-0008 "down time". Down time, huh? Soooo, when the pager goes off, you tell dispatch to send another unit because you're on your down time? Bullshit. You're there, expected to go from tones to wheels rolling in 120 seconds, you're on duty, not down time. Like it's not enough that EMS wages across the country suck to begin with, they expect you to do 1/3 of your shift for free.
Here's the passage that counts:
"Sleeping Time and Certain Other Activities: An employee who is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours is working even though he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. An employee required to be on duty for 24 hours or more may agree with the employer to exclude from hours worked bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours, provided adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep. No reduction is permitted unless at least 5 hours of sleep is taken."

A couple of questions that need to be answered.
1. Do you have "adequate sleeping facilities"?
2. Can you "usually enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep"? I would assume this to mean that most nights, you are not being called out.
3. Are you union - do you have a collective bargaining agreement? If you do , this should be addressed there. Also , check your state labor laws, as they may be more stringent than the federal labo laws stated above. I think that most employers pay the entire time as it is a way for them to retain good employees - you can always vote with your feet and find employment elsewhere.
Is this some federal law or a state law? I have never heard of such a thing. I couldn't imagine not getting paid for the hours you are sitting at the station waiting for a call. Working at a private transport company that provides nursing homes with transport to ER's 24-7 and hospital discharges in the middle of the night, I have very few shifts that we spend more than an hour at the station but we still get paid when we are there. Even when we are slow and don't have runs half the time you are sitting up watching tv because you "know" that you are going to get another call any minute. This is why EMS really needs a union like the police and firefighters.
Please make sure that it is posted if someone starts some kind of campaign against this so we call all help.
The Federal Labor Law is specific on sleep time. It is highlighted in Section 7(k). Sleep time can be deducted from MUNICIPAL providers for no longer than 8 hours during shifts of no more than 24 hours. If during this AGREED UPON time there is a "call to duty" that time must be paid at the employee's regular rate of pay. If during the designated sleep time the employee cannot obtain a reasonable amount of sleep (four consecutive hours) than the employee must be paid thier regular salary for the entire sleep time period. It is important to note that under 7(k) municipal firefighters, working 24 hour shifts, are exempt from sleep time, as well as the regular "over 40 overtime" rules. EMT's and Paramedics working for a municipality are exempt ONLY if they are "trained in fire suppression and fire suppresion is a duty and a responsibility". Those Medics working in the civillian capacity for municipal fire departments are required to be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 and may be subjected to sleep time rules. Those in the private sector are to be paid for time worked. PRIVATE PROVIDERS CANNOT DEDUCT SLEEP TIME REGARDLESS OF THEIR RESPONSE OBLIGATION. We recently had a large local provider lose a Dept. of Labor and FLSA lawsuit for deducting sleep time for medics who were working 24 hour rotations but answering municipal 911 calls. The DoL made it clear that the service provider was a private entitiy and thus not subject to 7(k) exemptions.
So, they get paid if they are logging calls during the sleeping hours? So now in order to save a few hours of salary, they have to hire someone to go through the books and count hours? It sounds like a waste of time to me. We may be sleeping, but we are being paid for our knowledge, abilities, and readiness to go in minutes. Who's to say someone goes back to sleep after a late call anyway? Report writing, restocking, washing, etc... takes time too. You can easily fill eight hours of sleep time with three to four calls. Seems like a simple ruling to me: You're in uniform for 24 hours = pay for 24 hours.
Many of the busiest EMS systems in the country are staffed by firefighter-paramedics that are IAFF members. I think you'd have a difficult time finding any of them sleeping, or even in the station.

You also didn't mention that firefighters and firefighter-paramedics get artificially-low hourly compensation rates due to the FLSA rules for firefighter pay during 24-hour shifts. That means that firefighter-paramedics have to pull more duty hours to get the same total compensation as non-fire paramedics in an equivalent system.

There are a lot of slower EMS systems where the EMS stands for "Earn Money Sleeping", too.

asysin2leads said:
I'd say ask the IAFF. They've been getting their members compensation for sleeping for years now.
You sound confident. Can you provide direction to see the citations for these cases? Particularly regarding private amvulance companies CAN'T deduct sleep time... and case(s) that have already been heard. Thanks

Shannon Gollnick said:
The Federal Labor Law is specific on sleep time. It is highlighted in Section 7(k). Sleep time can be deducted from MUNICIPAL providers for no longer than 8 hours during shifts of no more than 24 hours. If during this AGREED UPON time there is a "call to duty" that time must be paid at the employee's regular rate of pay. If during the designated sleep time the employee cannot obtain a reasonable amount of sleep (four consecutive hours) than the employee must be paid thier regular salary for the entire sleep time period. It is important to note that under 7(k) municipal firefighters, working 24 hour shifts, are exempt from sleep time, as well as the regular "over 40 overtime" rules. EMT's and Paramedics working for a municipality are exempt ONLY if they are "trained in fire suppression and fire suppresion is a duty and a responsibility". Those Medics working in the civillian capacity for municipal fire departments are required to be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 and may be subjected to sleep time rules. Those in the private sector are to be paid for time worked. PRIVATE PROVIDERS CANNOT DEDUCT SLEEP TIME REGARDLESS OF THEIR RESPONSE OBLIGATION. We recently had a large local provider lose a Dept. of Labor and FLSA lawsuit for deducting sleep time for medics who were working 24 hour rotations but answering municipal 911 calls. The DoL made it clear that the service provider was a private entitiy and thus not subject to 7(k) exemptions.
Thanks. "Number at the bottom" (What number?)

Russell Stine said:
You are "engaged to wait" according to the fact sheet, meaning that while you are may not be working all the time during your work period you must still be paid.

As for sleeping hours you must be working more than 24 hours AND be given 5 to 8 hours of usually uninterrupted sleep. Meaning that you can not awakened for anything.

If you have questions regarding interpretation of the law call the number at the bottom.
Additionally, my first EMS job was with an employer who also took advantage of me because I wanted a job in EMS so badly I was willing to work part of my shift for free.
There, fixed the original post for you. :)

Remember, the employers can only take advantage of a law if we're willing to put up with it.

FWIW, when my former employer went from a salary-flex system (which is a whole post in and of itself) to an hourly rate with 5 hours of unpaid sleep time (but if you didn't sleep 5 hours, you got the whole 5 hours of pay), we actually made out like bandits.
Okay. So now I have worked here for about 18 months. Maybe I wasn't very clear in my original post. Maybe I didn't understand the rules here as well back then...?
We work 48s. We have to write on our time card that we have a X:am to Y:am (5 hr) sleep time. If anything happens that we have to be involved in, we can claim the four hours of SLEEP TIME the company otherwise does not pay. It's that simple. (that's about $750/mo for each employee)
However, during that sleep time we have written down as our alloted period "for sleep", we must be aware of any calls our three staffed ambulances are involved in. And, we are not free to be anywhere else. For instance, during a sleep time between 0100 and 0600, we are expected to be in our bed - hopefully sleeping. That is, this is not my time, it is the company's, and I am "SUFFERED OR PERMITTED" to work - doing the company's work. I am "CALLED TO BE WAITING".
The company is reasonably open to us writing down that we are claiming sleep time pay if involved in some activity other than a bona fide response. They would no doubt frown on us making up a reason every night to be "up" during our sleep time.
The FACT is, our responsibilities do not change from the first until the last minute of our 48. At one of our two stations, we are suppose to write that we only worked 20 hours, and that our sleep time is from 0100-0600. We are the only crew on. Our responsibility to respond is the same as it is all day long. At the station where we have two staffed units, the minute one goes out, the other is up for the call. Theoretically, both crews should be paid for sleep time if either goes out. If we sleep during our shift, it is with an ear for our tones. That is not normal sleep.
For what it's worth: we run about 200-300 calls per months with three ambulances and (FORCED - about three 24-hour days each month per employee) back-up units when necessary. (another web post indeed)

I am interested in case-law. Both FLSA and the state I am in have websites with information on sleep time. Both have language many have picked from and used to substantiate their positions on the matter. I will leave this alone when I have hard facts. And, someone replied that I should leave this alone or 24 hr shifts will go away. I do consider these things. I have little to gain personally either way. I want EMS people to be treated fairly. This to me is a shame. EMS is not an easy job. Not for me. Claiming that my time while sleeping away from home is worthless, is insulting to our profession.
Beautifully put.

blair4630 said:
This has already been stated, but it's my opinion as well...if you're there, away from your family and home, you're on the job and should be payed regular wage to do so. I never understood the services that call 0000-0008 "down time". Down time, huh? Soooo, when the pager goes off, you tell dispatch to send another unit because you're on your down time? Bullshit. You're there, expected to go from tones to wheels rolling in 120 seconds, you're on duty, not down time. Like it's not enough that EMS wages across the country suck to begin with, they expect you to do 1/3 of your shift for free.
1. sleeping quarters are great. Not quiet but great otherwise.
2. very hit-and-miss. far more likely that an ambulance gets toned out - than not.
3. non-union and the company - according to hearsay - has been hard on anyone who tried to introduce the union (before my time).

Lighthouse said:
Here's the passage that counts:
"Sleeping Time and Certain Other Activities: An employee who is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours is working even though he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. An employee required to be on duty for 24 hours or more may agree with the employer to exclude from hours worked bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours, provided adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep. No reduction is permitted unless at least 5 hours of sleep is taken."

A couple of questions that need to be answered.
1. Do you have "adequate sleeping facilities"?
2. Can you "usually enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep"? I would assume this to mean that most nights, you are not being called out.
3. Are you union - do you have a collective bargaining agreement? If you do , this should be addressed there. Also , check your state labor laws, as they may be more stringent than the federal labo laws stated above. I think that most employers pay the entire time as it is a way for them to retain good employees - you can always vote with your feet and find employment elsewhere.

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