People Operations | Management

Volunteer civil service and emergency responder leave

It is illegal for an employer in the state of California to prohibit an employee from providing voluntary emergency medical services, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, in response to a medical emergency. This does not preclude, an employer from adopting and enforcing a policy prohibiting an employee from performing emergency medical services on a person who has expressed the desire to forgo resuscitation or other medical interventions through legally recognized means. The law does not impose  any express or implied duty on an employer to train its employees regarding emergency medical services or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. However, employers must provide unpaid time off to employees who are required to perform emergency duty as volunteer firefighters, reserve peace officers or emergency rescue personnel.


Employees who serve as volunteer firefighters and work for an employer with 50 or more employees must be permitted to take up to 14 days of leave per calendar year for the purpose of engaging in fire or law enforcement training.

The Labor Code provides that employers may not discharge, threaten with discharge, demote, suspend or in any other manner discriminate against employees, in terms and conditions of employment, who take time off for the purpose of fulfilling a civil service or emergency responder obligation.


Emergency rescue personnel include all firefighters, including federal, state and local entities, and members of a sheriff’s or police department (public or private, paid or volunteer) while actually engaged in providing emergency services.

However, the leave provisions do not apply to a public safety agency or providers of emergency medical services when the employee’s absence would hinder the availability of public safety or emergency medical services.