Hey guys so I am stuck in this rather large dilemma right now at my department.  I am currently working part time at my vol department as a CRT.  Our EMS Captain that has been in office the last 2 years has not done hardly anything (granted he has a family and is running his own business), doesn't deal with problems like he should, and does not show any leadership what so ever to the other volunteers.  This department I grew up in since I was a cadet and now going through paramedic school.  Nominations are coming up and both of my co-workers, several high status people in the department and some others support me in the decision to try and turn the EMS side around, make some change, and try to fix things.  On the other hand the current president talked to me tonight and had asked me to think about not running for the office as I would be my "own" boss if I was elected.  I know both of my co workers completely support me with the decision and one of them is a vol in the department as well and he asked me if he could nominate me.  If you guys could help me with the decision and make some other points and give your opinions that would be great!  Thank you!

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Somebody needs to take a look at your situation.  Generally, under federal law, you may not "volunteer" for your employer.  If you are an employee, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that you be paid for ALL hours worked, and time and 1/2 for hours over 40 - and no, you can't "sign away" those rights, or dodge it any other way.

It sounds like you want to do the leadership thing, and if people want you to, perhaps you should.  But you can't be a volunteer, a volunteer leader, and an employee too.

A couple of comments. First, FLSA would only apply if the employee is full time. Where the poster stated they are part time, FLSA does not apply and they can in fact volunteer in the same organization. Also, under FLSA, Fire, Police, and I believe EMS personnel carry an exemption that allows up to 56 hrs/week, not 40, before OT kicks in. All that being said, the real issue here is the "being your own boss" syndrome. Heads of service usually have some oversight from somewhere, be it a town council, board of directors, mayor, or what have you. There must be some policy making committee somewhere, no? If there is not any policy that specifically dis-allows it, and the membership feels that you have the requisite knowledge and experience, go for it. It sounds as if the current president is trying to protect turf.

I'd be very careful about relying on a notion that FLSA only applies if an employee is full time.  That is emphatically not true - even a part time employee that works more than 40 hours in any given week must be paid overtime.  And in 20+ years of dealing with it, I've never heard or seen any authority that the proscription against volunteering for an employer is a limited one (the purpose is to prevent "coerced volunteering" and that would apply to any employee whether full or part time).

The rest of Lighthouse's argument has some validity.  Even a volunteer non-profit has to have a board of directors that can address these issues - hopefully with qualified legal advisors!

A couple of things. Chief Kirkwood is right- FLSA does not just apply to full time. It covers everyone drawing a paycheck- part time and full time. Second, the exemptions to the 40-hour rule only applies to EMS if you are dual role fire or police, and you spend the majority of your time doing the other thing, not EMS. So, if your primary function is EMS, then you are covered by the 40-hour rule. A couple of agencies I have worked for found that out the hard way, and I enjoyed the nice check.

Second, you cannot volunteer for the folks you get paid by. Again, one of those agencies I used to work for 'required' the employees to 'volunteer' one night or weekend shift per week. Now, in all fairness, we went along with it because we believed we were 'helping the community', and also, we were just 'ate up' with wearing pagers, running calls, and all of that.

Of course, the wrong person got fired (it wasn't me) and the 'dropped the proverbial dime'. The folks from the Labor Department came in one day and confiscated all of the time sheets and records.

It was really nice getting that check, just before Christmas, for two year's worth of 'twelve hours per week' volunteer shifts. And of course, time and a half applied to all of it.

It's a common belief that EMS in general is covered by the FLSA exemptions for fire and police, maybe because we all have sirens, and lights, and such.

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