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California Proposition 11: Ambulance Employees Paid On-Call Breaks

Creative Commons. By Tobias Kleinlercher. Resized.

Alright, let’s say you are a paramedic and you work for an ambulance company. When you take a lunch break, are you still on-call? Can your company make you respond to an emergency?


That’s the question being considered in Proposition 11.


According to ambulance companies, right now it’s common practice for emergency workers to still be on-call while they take their breaks. But a recent California Supreme Court ruling said that private security companies could not keep their workers on call. And now the emergency response industry is worried the ruling could extend to them. Ambulance providers say they would need 25 % larger ambulance crews in order to comply.


So, American Medical Response, that’s the country’s largest ambulance company, has put forward a ballot measure to settle the law. Proposition 11 would give ambulance companies the clear right to keep their employees on call during breaks. The proposition also has measures to protect workers - requiring for example that the workers get paid if they respond to a call while on break.

American Medical Response has spent 3 and a half million dollars on the measure. They say that Proposition 11 will make sure ambulances are always ready to respond to the nearest emergency.

No one has submitted an official argument against Proposition 11, or raised money against it. But the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board opposed the measure. They say that ambulance workers currently suing for their right to breaks, should have their day in court - that the courts, or the legislature, should decide this issue, not voters.

So, to recap: a vote yes on Proposition 11 would allow ambulance companies to require their workers to stay on call during breaks. A vote no leaves that question up to the courts or the legislature.