Proposition 11: Requires Private-Sector Emergency Ambulance Employees to Remain on Call During Work Breaks. Changes Other Conditions of Employment.
Should the Labor Code be amended to allow private ambulance employees to remain on call during work breaks and to exempt their employers from potential liability for violations of existing law regarding work breaks?
California counties oversee local Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Private ambulance providers (Providers) enter into contracts to perform EMS in a specific area, subject to performance requirements. Periodic contract renegotiations address changes in Providers’ costs.
Ambulances are geographically positioned based on service demand. When an ambulance is dispatched, other area ambulances are repositioned.
Historically EMS personnel remain “on call” during work breaks, which are often interrupted by 911 calls or repositioning. In a 2016 case (Augustus) involving private security guards required to remain “on call” during rest breaks, the California Supreme Court held that such breaks do not comply with state labor law; rather they must be off-duty and uninterruptible (even in an emergency). The security guards were awarded penalties and damages.
Given the similarity between EMS personnel and Augustus, it appears probable that Provider personnel practices must change. Providers estimate that, relative to current practice, 25 percent more ambulances would be required to meet the requirements of Augustus.
Prop.11 would amend state labor laws applicable to Providers’ personnel, allowing them to remain on call throughout their breaks. It also would change several other rules regarding meal and rest breaks, while requiring Providers to operate enough ambulances to meet performance requirements.
Prop.11 would limit legal liability that Providers might face if the Augustus decision is applied to Providers’ personnel. Several lawsuits regarding the work break practices for ambulance employees are in the court system. The on call rules established by this proposition would be applied retroactively to such lawsuits.
The measure also requires ambulance providers to offer EMS personnel additional training, education, counseling and services.
The fiscal effects of Prop.11 are calculated on the assumption that Augustus will be held to apply to Provider personnel, including past period legal liability.
Prop. 11 would relieve Providers of the cost of operating more ambulances to cover off-duty breaks—potentially over $100 million annually. Other provisions might require Providers to ensure that there are more ambulances in an area. Providers that do not offer training and education at the levels required under Prop. 11 would have new costs, likely in the low tens of millions of dollars annually.
Prop. 11 will result in local government net savings, likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, due to lower emergency ambulance contract costs.