Sunday 12 November, 2006

Know the NSW Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award

Posted in Advice, Emergency Dept., Michael Tam, Resources, Wards, Workplace at 9:29 by Michael Tam

Original artcle by: Michael Tam :: Printer friendly


Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award

Serial C4272. Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales. Issued 16 December 2005. [117 Kb]

Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award – Hours of Work and Tenure

NSW Health Department Policy Directive (no. PD2005_457). Issued 28 January 2005. [32 Kb]

Looking back, I never even once received a copy of the Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award when starting work at a number of NSW Public Hospitals. The Award sets out the conditions of employment for junior medical officers (i.e., interns, residents, registrars) and is set by the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW.

The second publication is a policy directive from the NSW Department of Health that I will go through.

I strongly encourage that all JMOs read through the Award. My experience is that NSW Public Hospitals (or their administration) do not follow many of the finer details of the Award when they think that they can get away with it. This is really quite disgusting. The purpose of the Award is so that your rights and entitlements are documented in stone. You shouldn’t have to fight for them.

Don’t let medical and hospital administration get away with labour theft because of your own ignorance of your employment contract and conditions.

Important snippets from the Award

Part A, Clause 2 (Payment of Salaries), paragraph 2

“Salaries shall be deposited by hospitals in sufficient time to ensure that wages are available for withdrawal by employees no later than pay day…”

That is, payment of salaries must be on time. If it is delayed (or the wrong amount paid) then the outstanding amount should be paid as soon as possible, not whenever it is convienient for the pay office.

Part A, Clause 6 (Hours of Work), sub-clause (i)

“Upon termination of employment an officer shall be paid the monetary value of any untaken additional roster leave, calculated at the officer’s ordinary time rate of pay…”

That is, “ADOs”, or accrued days off hours are paid out when you finish your contract with your hospital.

Part A, Clause 6 (Hours of Work), sub-clause (ii)

“Officers shall be free from ordinary hours of duty for not less than two days in each week, or where this is not practicable, four days in each fortnight.”

Note that this statement is explicit. This means that you cannot be rostered for more than 10 standard shifts (ordinary hours of duty) in a 14 day period.

Part A, Clause 6 (Hours of Work), sub-clause (iii)

“No shift shall be less than eight hours in length on a week-day or less than four hours in length on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday.”

This means that even if medical administration wants you to work shorter shifts (for some bizarre payment reason), you are paid a minimum of 8 hours on a week day and 4 hours on a weekend.

Part A, Clause 6 (Hours of Work), sub-clause (v)

“All time worked in excess of ten hours in any one shift shall be paid as overtime.”

Again, this is explicit. There are no “time in lieu” provisions in the NSW Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award (unlike the CMO Award).

Part A, Clause 6 (Hours of Work), sub-clause (vi)

“Officers shall be given at least two weeks notice of rosters to be worked in relation to ordinary hours of work…”

That is, administration cannot tell you to “work for team X tomorrow” unless it is an “emergent” situation.

Part A, Clause 8 (Time Worked), paragraph 1

“Time worked means the time during which an officer is required by a hospital to be in attendance at a hospital for the purpose of carrying out such functions as the hospital may call on him to perform, and it shall include times when the officer, in waiting to carry out some active function, is studying or resting or sleeping or engaged in any other activity.”

That is, if you have to stay behind to look after an unwell patient or attend a late ward round (i.e., “is required … to be in attendance … for the purpose of carrying out … functions as t the hospital may call on him to perform”), then it is time worked. If (as above) it is more than 10 hours in the shift, then it is paid with overtime penalties.

Part A, Clause 9 (Meal Breaks), sub-clause (iii) and (iv)

“(iii) If officers are required to work during their meal break they shall be paid for the time worked; (iv) Medical Administrators are to establish simple and effective procedures in consultation with officers to record when staff are required to work through their meal break and to ensure that payment is made.”

That is, if you work through your lunch, you should be paid for it. Moreover, it is the responsibility of administration (not yours) to ensure that a system is in place.

Part A, Clause 11 (On Call and Call Back), sub-clause (iv)

“An officer who is called back for duty shall be paid for all time worked at the appropriate overtime rate, with a minimum of 4 hours at such rates.”

That is, when you are called back into hospital (when on call), you are paid a minimum of 4 hours at the appropriate penalty rate for that time of work.

Part A, Clause 12 (Annual leave), sub-clause (v)

“If the officer and the hospital so agree, the annual leave or any such separate periods, may be taken wholly or partley in advance before the officer has become entitled to that leave…”

This sub-clause mostly affects interns. I know of occasions where a hospital has forced an intern into taking their leave at the beginning of the year! Interns technically are not necessarily entitled to annual leave as it need not be granted until a year of employment. Annual leave may still be taken as per this sub-clause, however, it is “if the officer and the hospital so agree“. If you don’t agree, then the hospital cannot force you to take annual leave as an intern.

Part A, Clause 12 (Annual leave), sub-clause (vii)

“The hospital shall give the officer at least two months’ notice of the date from which his annual leave is to be taken.”

That is, the hospital cannot force you into taking annual leave. They must give due notice.

Part A, Clause 12 (Annual leave), sub-clause (ix)

“Where the employment of an officer is terminated, the officer shall be entitled to receive proportionate payment for each completed month of service together with such additional annual leave entitlements…”

Annual leave is paid out at your current level of salary when you finish working at a hospital.

Part A, Clause 28 (Secondment), sub-clause (i)

“An officer, other than an intern, seconded to work in a 2nd or 3rd Schedule hospital shall have his/her salary increased by one incremental step, by way of allowance, for the period the officer works in such hospital.”

Unfortunately, interns lose out here, but RMO1s and above are should be paid one level up when seconded away from their primary hospital.

Part A, Clause 33 (Reasonable Hours), sub-clause (ii) and (iii)

“(ii) An employee may refuse to work overtime in circumstances where the working of such overtime woul result in the employee working hours which are unreasonable.

(iii) For the purposes of sub-clause (ii) what is unreasonable or otherwise will be determined having regard to:

  1. any risk to employee health and safety.
  2. The employee’s personal circumstances including any family and carer responsibilities.
  3. The needs of the workplace or enterprise.
  4. The notice (if any) given by the employer of the overtime and by the employee of his or her intension to refuse it; and
  5. Any other relevant matter.”

Basically, under the Accord which are the agreed conditions in your employment contract, you have the right to refuse any overtime that is “unreasonable”. Certainly, any overtime that potentially puts your health and safety at risk in unreasonable. Remember, after 17-19 hours without sleep, performance is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (1) and this is a significant risk to you if you need to drive home.

Important snippets from the Policy Directive on Hours of Work and Tenure

Page 1, Compliance

“Compliance with this policy directive is mandatory.”

The instructions in this circular from the NSW Department of Health (i.e., your boss’ boss) cannot be waived.

Page 2, Hours of Work, paragraph 1

“Resident Medical Officers cannot be rostered to work for more than 34 hours continuously; or 16 hours continuously in high work load areas, e.g., intensive care and accident and emergency, such hours being a combination of ordinary and/or overtime hours.”

In “high work load areas”, you cannot be rostered to work (overtime or otherwise) for more than 16 consecutive hours. Although “high work load” is arbitrary, arguably a busy surgical term would be a “high work load” area.

Page 2, Hours of Work, paragraph 2 and 4

“A minimum break of eight consecutive hours is to be given between shifts and/or after continuous periods of work of up to 16 hours and a minimum break of 12 consecutive hours is to be given between shifts and/or continuous periods of work exceeding 16 hours…

In instances where the mininum break, because of necessity, includes normal rostered hours as a result of recall duties the officer is to be paid for those normal hours which are included in the minimum break as if they had been worked.”

That is, you must be given at least 8 hours break between shifts or 12 hours if your last shift was 16 hours or more. Where your “break hours” go into your normal rostered working hours, you are paid as if you worked normally.

For example, let’s say your worked a normal 8-5 PM shift (8 hours) + an evening overtime shift from 5 PM to midnight (7 hours). Normally, you should be able to start again the next day at 8 AM (8 hours break after 15 hours of work). However, let’s say for example that the evening shift was really busy and you were caught up with an arrest until 1:30 AM. Then, you would have worked a 16.5 hour shift. According to your award, you should have 12 hours of break so you shouldn’t have to go back to work until 1:30 PM but be paid for the morning as if you worked it.

Few hospitals have such an arrangement so you should remind them of this policy directive and the fact that its compliance is “mandatory”.

Reference articles

(1) Williamson A., Feyer A. Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occup Environ Med 2000;57:649-655 (October). [download PDF :: 182 Kb :: Link]


  1. Marion Mateos said,

    great and simple to understand – how are you planning to disseminate the link to this page? I think it would be very useful, as you have mentioned, for interns to have this from Day one! Thanks.

  2. Michael Tam said,

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    Unfortunately, I’m somewhat removed from the hospital system now as I work in the community as a GP registrar. Certainly, if you know someone who would be able to give disseminate this to interns or final year medical students, please spread the word!


  3. J. Kheng said,

    This page is excellent resource for junior doctors.I would like to give my example to other users of this forum.

    I have worked full time as psychitry registrar in POW Hospital, Randwick and realised that I was regularly underpaid. I went to HR office and they explained to me that reason was because HR set up my normal working week as a 10 hours shift ( instead of 8 hrs /day ). Therefore I was paid substantially less, since the beginning of the term, because they couldn’t paid me overtime until 80 hrs/ fortnightly were filled ?
    Also I noticed that all interns are underpaid due to similar problem. They should be on 8hrs shift ( unless you are in ED when you are on 10 hrs /shift).
    Unfortunatelly due to our own ignorance hospital administration continues with a labour theft.
    DO NOT FORGET TO COMPARE your time sheet with a pay slip, regardless how busy you are ?


  4. Dr. Simarasinghe said,

    I would like to add some comments for younger coleagues.Fistrly , let me say that MO Union & AMA poorly advocating and protecting our rights.

    Overtime in public hospital system ? Do not be silly.
    There is no much point doing overtime shift , particularly Public Holiday but many JMO are forced to do so as a training requirement.
    * (You should know that College doesn’t require you to do overtime or night shifts.You have to have supervision, and actually you can not get your terms accredited if you doing night shifts only simply because there is no supervision on night shift & overtime).
    If you have on calls and have a call back this is probably adequately remunerated.Each time you are called back you’ll be paid 4hrs/overtime rate. However I’ve heard rumours that NSW Health Department proposing a significant changes to OT which will further disadvantage the JMO.
    You are better of working an overtime & night shifts as a locum where you can get easily $120/hour.
    Unfortunatelly if your carrer path is to become ED consultant you should be aware that for the rest of your life you are Goverment Employee out of private system.

    Question for Tam ?
    When you are in GP Training as GP registrar, are you paid as a Registrar or RMO ?



  5. Michael Tam said,

    Basic and advanced GP registrars have their own contract completely separate to the hospital system. (remember, GP registrars work in the private sector). A National Minimum Terms and Conditions for Basic and Advanced registrars as been negotiated between the General Practice Registrars Association (GPRA) and National General Practice Supervisors Association (NGPSA) that you can download from the GPRA website.

    With regards to GP registrars in their mentorship terms, we have to negotiate our own personal contract which means that it is usually similar to the low end of “real” GP contracts.


  6. JT said,

    I realise this is an old post but I found it after some extensive googling. Just wanted to say thanks for the resource~! For something so important it was surprisingly hard to find! (AMA requires that you pay first to see the award?)

    Although it seems silly to work without even knowing what you’re working for and whether you’re being paid adequately, unfortunately a lot of JMOs do just that. It is not nice when you finally realise you’ve been paid 8hrs when you worked 10! It has made me doubly interested in deciphering my payslip.


  7. kamkazihuan said,

    i recently worked at a secondment hospital.i am a reg 4 and supposedly at the top level in my award.i was paid the same salary although i should have gone up a level to an advanced trainee u think that is the case or whatever the admin did was right in paying me the same amount of money as the parent hospital..
    also where can i find the range of weekly pay and levels for registrars

  8. jason said,

    im confused about how much you get paid for callback
    assume you have worked a day shift 8am-6pm and then you are on call from 6pm to 8am the next morning.
    If you get 1 callback at night, around 10pm
    how many hours do you get paid for and at what rate?
    shift penalty?
    do you get paid double time or time and a half or single time * 4 hours?

  9. Michael Tam said,

    Dear kamkazihuan,

    I refer you to the Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award:

    Part A, Clause 28, sub-clause (i)
    Allowance – An officer, other than an intern, seconded to work in a 2nd or 3rd Schedule hospital shall have his/her salary increased by one incremental step, by way of allowance, for the period the officer works in such hospital.

    For the duration of the officer’s secondment, other than periods of leave, the allowance shall be treated as salary for the purpose of calculating overtime and shift penalties.

    Thus assuming that you have been seconded to a 2nd or 3rd schedule hospital, you should be paid one level up.

    Regarding salary levels, that is covered by the Health Professional and Medical Salaries (State) Award. The relevant section for you is on page 25 under “medical officers” in the chart.

    A fourth level registrar is NOT the top level of the award (it is the second highest level) for “medical officers”. The top level is that of “senior registrar”. Arguably, you have a strong case of claiming unpaid incomes, and at a minimum, the hospital should be able to defend their judgment with reference to the relevant sections of the Award.

    Note: If you are indeed normally paid as a “senior registrar” (i.e., already the top level), then there is no “level up” under the Award.


  10. Michael Tam said,

    Dear jason,

    I refer you to the following parts of the Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award:

    Part A, Clause 10, sub-clause (i)
    All time worked by officers in excess of the ordinary hours specified in clause 6, Hours of Work, of this award, shall be paid at the rate of time and one-half for the first two hours, and double time thereafter provided that all overtime performed on a Sunday, shall be at double time.


    Part A, Clause 11, sub-clause (iv)
    An officer who is called back for duty shall be paid for all time worked at the appropriate overtime rate, with a minimum of 4 hours at such rates.

    Thus the calculation will depend on the ordinary hours of your day shift. Assuming that you have an 8 hour shift (note: “ordinary hours of work” cannot be > 38 hours per week; Part A, Clause 6, sub-clause (i)) and you had a one hour lunch break, then you have already worked 8 hours + 1 hour overtime.

    In the callback, you should be paid for a minimum of 4 hours at the appropriate overtime rates. Overtime is paid at time and a half for the first 2 hours and double time thereafter. So, of the 4 hours, 1 hour should be at 150% and 3 hours should be at 200%.


  11. Patrick said,

    I also have a question regarding callbacks. What happens when the on-call shift precedes the day shift?

    For example, if I am on call overnight, and then start a day shift at 0800. If I get called in at 0700 – do I get paid the 4 hours, or just a single hour?

  12. Michael Tam said,

    Dear Patrick:

    Part A, Clause 11, sub-clause (iv)
    An officer who is called back for duty shall be paid for all time worked at the appropriate overtime rate, with a minimum of 4 hours at such rates.

    You should be paid for 4 hours for the callback.

  13. Patrick said,

    Ok, so the hospital that I work at has refused to do this – i’ve been to the top of medical admin. Where do I go next?

  14. Michael Tam said,

    First step is to document everything. Don’t just “talk” to medical administration, write it down in a formal letter.

    I would suggest that you write you letter, reference the appropriate sub-clause of the Award, and print out a copy of the Award with your letter. You should ask the question for Medical Administration on why their stated “official” position is in direct contravention to the Award and thus in breach of your employment contract. Give them a one week time period to respond to you in writing.

    Other tips: send a copy of your letter to the Human Resources Director of the hospital/Area Health Network and the CEO of the hospital. Threaten to involve the AMA / Health Services Union / NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

    In essence the Award is clear and blunt. If you are called back to work outside of normal working hours, you are paid at a minimum of 4 hours for each callback.


  15. Lorraine said,

    Dear Dr Tam,
    This is a fantastic resource.
    I would like some advice. I am having difficulty with the Admin dept at my hospital and am not entirely sure of my entitlements.
    I am an overseas doctor, working in Sydney, since August (term 4), as an RMO.
    I am starting an ED term (term 5) next month.
    I have been denied annual leave on multiple occasions in the last 10 weeks. I have been told that NO MORE Leave will be allotted in ED for the next term also.
    Basically I am being told that I cannot take leave in the 5 months that I am working at this hospital. I was told that the “ED rota is final” I have contacted Admin initially in person, then by phone and finally by email. They have not responded to my concerns.
    What do you advise is the next step?
    Many Thanks,

  16. Michael Tam said,

    Unfortunately Lorraine, there are limitations to your leave entitlements. Although you accrue annual leave hours, there is no obligation for the hospital to grant annual leave until after 12 months of employment.

    My best advice to you is to try to liaise with administration for leave. Your only other alternative (which is not a good one), is to take your last two weeks of employment as leave by threatening resignation (in which the hospital has to pay out your accrued leave entitlements anyway).

    Sorry I cannot be of more help.


  17. Hildy said,

    Since the Public Hospitals Act 1929 has been repealed, what is the new definition of a 2nd/3rd Schedule hospital?

  18. Michael Tam said,

    Good question Hildy, but I have no idea…


  19. Michelle Withers said,

    Hi all. For everyone working as a JMO in NSW you may be interested to know two things:

    1. The JMO award is currently being re-negotiated by the HSU and NSW Health. Not a lot of people know this.

    2. The HSU (the union that represents JMOs in NSW) is now (finally) taking an active interest in representing JMOs and dealing with exactly the type of problems and questions mentioned in this forum. They have appointed Karin Thompson (details below) as the officer looking after JMOs,and she is happy to assist any HSU member with problems relating to pay/conditions/the award. Membership of the HSU is aroun $600/year, but is tax-deductible.

    Michelle Withers
    POW ED Registrar

    Karin Thompson
    Professional Officer
    Health Services Union
    Level 2, 109 Pitt Street
    SYDNEY NSW 2000
    Mobile: 0448242149 (twenty4hours)

  20. Michael Tam said,

    Cheers! Thanks for the heads up Michelle.

  21. Hi all,

    I have just sat in on a meeting with HSU as a hospital delegate on discussions regarding negotiations for amendments for the 2008 round of IR submissions.

    The current award is considdered by all to be completely outdated and needs a total re-vamp!!! We are having a planning meeting on Wednesday 16 January 2008 to go through the Award with a fine tooth-comb and to make recommendations to HSU to take to the NSW Department of Health for consideration.

    I would urge anyone to have a good read of the award and suggest relevant changes so that some or all (depending on their suitability) to be incorporated in the submission to the NSW Department of Health and subsequently to the NSW Industrial Relations Commision.

    Feel free to email any thoughts to me ( or to Karin Thompsom (, so that these can be collated and submitted at this meeting.

    Remember – this is YOUR opportunity to have a say on the enterprise bargaining agreement, whether you are a union member or not.

    Have a great Christmas and safe New Year

    xx Tony Richards, O+G Registrar RPAH Hospital

  22. Emiline Harris said,

    This is (late) feedback for Patrick with regards to his call back question October 2007 however, hopefully, other people working on call may find this helpful.

    Patrick gave the example of being on call overnight and beginning his normal day shift at 8am. When called in at 7am (ie a call back), hospital admin. paid him 1 hour instead of what he thought he should be getting ie min. 4 hours call back.

    This is because IF your call back runs into your normal hours of work it is treated as OVERTIME as opposed to a call back. Having had this happen to me, I am of the understanding he would have paid his full call back amount (ie 4 hours) had he recorded his call back from 0700-0730 so that it didn’t run into his work day.

    (Ironic that in this case you get paid for saying you worked less, I know!)

  23. Calvin said,


    Interesting blog.
    I just read through the award, but there is no comment on part-time work. Has anyone seen a clause on pay and part-timing?

    If so, my question is, if you’re employed as a RMO part-time, and are rostered for overtime or are on-call and is called in, are you meant to be paid overtime rates, or time-penalty rates?

  24. Michael Tam said,

    Dear Calvin,

    If you are employed as a part-time employee, then your ordinary hours of work would be less than the standard 38 hours. Thus, overtime and call backs should be paid as per usual to someone working full time.

  25. Calvin said,

    Thanks Michael,

    I would logically agree with you. However, I would like to highlight 2 points I have discovered since my last entry.

    1. There is no clause for part-time work in the medical officers award
    2. Therefore, the public service award is in effect
    Here’s the link:

    I believe this means that part-timers can refuse to work overtime, but payment for such work is crap.

  26. Michael Tam said,

    I believe that is an incorrect interpretation.

    If you elect to work, e.g., an extra day on top of your routine hours (which should be agreed upon in your contract), then that will be paid as per usual hours.

    If you work an overtime shift (e.g., evening session on top of a day already worked at usual hours), then the usual criteria in the award applies (i.e., one-and-a-half time for 2 hours and then subsequent hours at double-time).

    If you work an overtime session on a day not normally worked by you (e.g., an evening session or a weekend session), that is an interesting question. I believe that technically you could be paid as per shift penalties though at the same time, it could be argued that it is not technically a “shift” either, if you already have usual hours of work. I would suggest discussing and clarifying the payment of such sessions with administration BEFORE working them. Remember, under the Award, the employer can ask you to work reasonable overtime (which are thus paid as overtime as per the Award), not additional shifts.

    Call backs should be treated as call backs and I see no reason it should be interpreted otherwise.


  27. Alison said,


    To pick up an earlier thread, does anyone have an update on the renegotiation of the Medical Officers Award? Googling has been fruitless.

    Thanks in advance

  28. Michael Tam said,

    According to the Industrial Relations Commission, the most recent revision of the Public Hospital (Medical Officers) was published on 10 March 2006 with a variation published on 17 November 2006.

  29. Shivani Joshi said,


    I am a fourth year O&G trainee on secondment at Port Macquarie, and have run into a wall with administration over patient care and callbacks.

    A couple of times now, I have had to go into hospital (called in by midwife or asked to by boss) to assess *the same* labouring woman, for different reasons, culminating in delivery over a period of 4-8 hours. Admin has pulled me up on these two nights, citing that the hospital only pays “one callback per patient”, the rest as overtime, and that I cannot use “self generated callbacks” as a means of coming in to assess patients.

    Apart from being offended and outraged, is there anything I can do, anyone I can contact to advise on my behalf?

    I am fourth year and being paid as fourth year; is there a level up from that? I was told 4th year is as senior as it get in terms of pay?

    It is often so busy we don’t get time for meal breaks; am I entitled to claim?

    The hospital has an agreement with the private hospital that in exchange for the registrars assisting the VMOs at the private hospital, and the public hospital getting the assisting fees, they pay us for an 8hr normal day. This applies regardless of whether we are required to attend for a list at the private on any given day, even if the list runs till 19h00 or 20h00. Is this legal? Am I entitled to claim for any of it beyond 17h00, or does it even out because of the days I do not have to attend, which is what I have been going by so far.


  30. Michael Tam said,

    Dear Shivani,

    For your reference, the Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award.

    With regards to call backs, there is nothing specific in the Award about being called back to see the same patient more than once.

    Part A, Clause 11 (On Call and Call Back), sub-clause (iv)
    An officer who is called back for duty shall be paid for all time worked at the appropriate overtime rate, with a minimum of 4 hours at such rates.

    However, I would imagine that the hospital does have a reasonable argument for not paying a separate call back (i.e., additional 4 hours rather than 4 hours for the first and at the appropriate overtime rate for greater than 4 hours worked) if there is no demonstration that the second attendence of the patient was a separate and unexpected problem and not continuing care. It can be argued that returning to see a patient later in the on call period for an expected follow up would not be consistent with the statement “called back for duty”.

    You could press your claim but I wouldn’t be hopeful. There are unfortunately few avenues to take but if you have exhausted internal workplace pathway and feel strongly about the issue, you should seek advice from an employment lawyer.

    BTW, following the letter of the award (same sub-clause) there is no specific reason why the hospital even needs to pay more than one call back. The wording is vague and can be interpreted to mean that all call backs (regardless of time and number) is paid at usual overtime rates at a minimum of 4 hours.

    In terms of pay levels, there is one level above “4th year” registrar and that is “senior registrar”. There was a similar question further up this thread that I answered here.

    Meal breaks: yes, you are entitled to claim these as time worked if they are time worked.

    Part A, Clause 9 (Meal break), sub-clause (iii)
    If officers are required to work during their meal break they shall be paid for the time worked.

    In terms of your last question:
    The hospital has an agreement with the private hospital that in exchange for the registrars assisting the VMOs at the private hospital, and the public hospital getting the assisting fees, they pay us for an 8hr normal day. This applies regardless of whether we are required to attend for a list at the private on any given day, even if the list runs till 19h00 or 20h00. Is this legal? Am I entitled to claim for any of it beyond 17h00, or does it even out because of the days I do not have to attend, which is what I have been going by so far.

    Is this legal?
    This is the wrong question. This is outside the scope of the Award and probably outside of your employment contract as well. Basically, if you work it and accept it, then it can probably be argued that you’ve entered into an implicit contract with the public and private hospital.

    Am I entitled to claim for any of it beyond 17h00?
    I’m not a lawyer and this is a tough question to answer. While assisting at the private hospital, are you technically working as an employee of the hospital? If the answer is yes (I don’t know if it is), then yes, you can claim overtime as usual. If the answer is no, then you cannot (as you have somehow agreed to work for someone without a contract and so there is nothing that is legally binding).

    I am unfamiliar with the arrangement between the public and private hospital but if you haven’t seen one, you should demand to see a contract. Apart from payment, I can see potential medical indemnity issues (especially if you expect to be covered by NSW Health, which you normally would be as a registrar).

    Best regards.

  31. Shivani Joshi said,

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the prompt reply. I have contacted Karin from HSU, and she assures me she will be in touch on tuesday to discuss matters. If, as you say, I am mistaken about the callbacks, then I am willing to be corrected, though I have been on other rural terms, without any problems in the past, so I am rather upset. It comes down to the principle, since this administrator, without even looking at the patient’s notes, or understanding that in obstetrics things can happen unexpectedly, especially in labour, accused me of “self generating callbacks”, thereby impuning my integrity and honesty. That is what really hurts and offends.

    As to the vague terms of the callbacks, it is something I would like to see addressed in the new draft, since so many hospitals take staff for a ride because of the vague terminology.

    One last question, you mentioned above that working 12-16 hours continuously entitles an RMO to then have paid breaks of 8-12 hours before resuming employment (I always thought this was only for nurses not doctors!), but are there any rules that apply to doctors being on call, and being called back, and then being expected to recommence a normal shift the next morning at 7.30? Or to assist at the private at 13h00 till 20h00 for example?

    As an example, currently I am doing a 1:2 on call roster; the other night I was called out at 05h00 for an emergency caeser, and finished at 08h00. I kept going straight to rounds (which began at 7.30), and then presented to the private at 13h30 to assist, which went till 20h00. Was I entitled to a break at any point? I know the nurses who were called in to do the caesar at 06h00 were then entitled to a 10 hr break (paid), and not expected to return for the rest of the day.

    Are you certain about the pay level up from 4th year? I was told specifically that there is no level higher than 4th year for a seconded registrar.

    Any help again, would be much appreciated.


  32. Ben Taylor said,


    I am a 4th year ED trainee and am doing a secondment at the moment in a different ED to my base hospital which is also in a different area health sevice in Sydney area (still NSW health)

    I am doing the odd shift back at my base hospital whilst I am away which will be in excess of the 80hrs each fortnight I am working.

    I would ordinarily expect to be paid overtime for these shifts but as I am working the first 80 hrs in a different area health service should I get paid overtime rates?

    The hospital admin where I am now say it should be my base hospital paying for these shifts too – is this true?

    Finally quoting the Award scheme section:
    For the duration of the officer’s secondment, other than periods of leave, the allowance shall be treated as salary for the purpose of calculating overtime and shift penalties.

    – does this refer to ovetime shifts carries out in my base hospital or seconded hospital?

    I would appreciate any advice

    Thanks, Ben

  33. Michael Tam said,

    These are good questions Ben. My understanding is that you can consider each area health service as a different employer. As such, I do not believe that the Award would support hours worked in another AHS to count towards potential overtime. There is nothing stopping you from asking, of course, but I wouldn’t be too optimistic.

    Note: if you are on secondment to a different area health service, then perhaps you should ask to be paid as a locum/CMO for the “odd shifts” you are working at your usual “base” hospital.

    The hospital admin where I am now say it should be my base hospital paying for these shifts too – is this true?

    As before, you can consider each AHS to be a different employer so the answer to this is “yes”.

    For the duration of the officer’s secondment, other than periods of leave, the allowance shall be treated as salary for the purpose of calculating overtime and shift penalties.

    – does this refer to ovetime shifts carries out in my base hospital or seconded hospital?

    Frame this again as each AHS is a separate employer. The clause refers to the allowance you get insofar as being paid “one level up”. For the purposes of calculating shift penalties, the secondment allowance + base salary is considered your “salary”.


  34. Katie said,

    this is a link to the new award 2008 (free!)

  35. richa said,

    I have a query for you.
    I am an overseas graduate and recently starting work as a Registrar in a public hospital in Sydney. I could not find the consideration of overseas experience in the pay (in the hospital awards document).
    The hospital is not counting my 3 years overseas experience as a registrar and giving me the salary for year 1 Registrar. Is there any specific clause in the awards which i can show to the hospital admin to make them count my three years of overseas experience towards the pay.

  36. Michael Tam said,

    Dear richa,

    As far as I know, there is no provision for consideration for overseas experience so it would be a matter of negotiation. If you have already started working in the position with no written promise to pay at a higher pay scale, then you are unfortunately in a poor position to bargain.

    • richa said,

      Thanks Michael for your prompt response.
      The essential criteria for the job were 7 years of postgraduate experience and 5 years of experience in the desired specialty. I don’t have any experience in Australia. Thus they are recognizing my overseas experience for the purpose of meeting the essential criteria but are not recognizing it for the payment of salary. Is that a valid comment to bargain on…

  37. Michael Tam said,

    My opinion is that your overseas experience should be taken into account as a matter of good faith. However, there is nothing in the award itself that supports your position. Best of luck.


  38. Phyllis MOK said,

    Dear Michael,

    Thanks for your valuable information. I am an anaesthetic Registrar working in Women’s Hosp. in Randwick, both this hosp. and my previous hosp., Concord Hospital, explicit told us not to submit any un-rostered overtime claim even if we are required to continue to work (no-one dare to object). Today I worked from 18:00 to 20:00 again without pay. I feel that this is illegal but I am not sure whether anything can be done about it. All of us just want to finish training and move on.

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