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24, 12, 10, and 8 hour shifts... Different pay rates? California

On Lawyer & Legal » Employment & Labor Law

4,151 words with 2 Comments; publish: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 01:55:00 GMT; (80062.99, « »)

First off, hello. I am an EMT-Supervisor in Los Angeles County, CA. I work a 24 hour shift for a private ambulance company, and I have a few questions regarding different pay scales.

Our 8 - 12 hour shift employees make a few dollars more per hour than our 24 hour employees do. Also, the "short hour" (8 - 12 hour) crews get overtime after 8 hours, then double-time after 12 hours, while the 24 hour employees get overtime pay after 40 hours per week. Seems normal, I know, but bear with me.

At a previous company I worked for in Kern County, the crew members each made a specific hourly rate depending on which shift they were on that day. for instance, if a regular 24 hour employee was doing overtime on an 8 hour crew, he/she would then make the 8 hour rate for that shift. As well, if a regular 8 hour employee would pick up a 24 hour shift, he/she would then take the 24 hour rate for the duration of that shift.

Having different pay rates depending on the length of the shift we worked assured that all people of the same pay scale, rank, and seniority made the same annual wages.

Now the company I work with now, does not do this. The employees who work regular 24 hour shifts (at the lower per hour pay) can pick up overtime on a short hour shift, but they retain their normal pay rate for that shift. The short hour employees, however, can not take overtime on a 24 hour shift because of the inevitable double time.

I proposed to my boss that we employ measures to change the pay scales so that all crews could make different per hour rates depending on which shift they were working that day. I was then told that due to the "24-hour shift agreement" we could not have short hour crews doing 24s. This sounded obscene to be, like he was blowing smoke up my keister. He then told me that there was a legal issue when it came to having regular 8 hour employees running 24 hour shifts involving our requirement to give those particular employees double time after 12 hours.

Despite the confusing nature of my description, my question is rather simple:

Are there actually laws which would prevent an employer from having employees switch from short hour to 24s for purposes of filling overtime shifts without double time pay accruing? Is there a legal reason to not allow all employees to jump between different pay rates depending on the overtime shift they choose to pick up?

I apologize if my description seems a bit jumbled, and poorly formulated.

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    • Well, the 24 hour crews have a crews quarters where we have a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and one bedroom with several twin sized beds where we can (if we have the opportunity) sleep, and hang out between calls. The 12 hour crews are welcome to rest as needed when they are not running calls, however, they are not assigned beds. The short-hour crews usually just watch TV in the living room.

      As for the payroll "nightmare", I already set them up with a little excel spreadsheet that does the math for them so long as they use the seperate columns for regular and OT pay in each pay bracket. I made it pretty simple, and very accurate so they only have to separate the hours worked.

      Do you know where I can look up the specific laws related to 24 hour shifts for emergency medical services agencies, and possibly other labor related laws?

      #1; Tue, 20 Feb 2007 13:23:00 GMT
    • Also, the "short hour" (8 - 12 hour) crews get overtime after 8 hours, then double-time after 12 hours, while the 24 hour employees get overtime pay after 40 hours per week. Seems normal, I know, but bear with me.

      It may seem "normal", but I don't know of any reason why it wouldn't be "illegal". However, the 24-hour shift employees; what is their sleeping arrangement vs the 12-hours shift employees?

      Having said this, having different rates of pay for different shifts is an administrative nightmare for payroll calculations, unless the base rate of pay is the same and the uplift is calculated as a shift premium. Doesn't make it illegal for them to do so, though.

      #2; Tue, 20 Feb 2007 05:09:00 GMT