Meeting with your hospital and health service

Feb 26, 2014

Your Hospital and Health Service (HHS) has provided to you or will soon provide to you information about the individual contract that is being offered to you.

You will be asked to sign the proposed contract by 30 April 2014.  You are not required to sign the contract when you get it or at all.  You can, if you wish, ask to attend a meeting with your HHS representative to discuss your proposed contract, in particular the negotiable terms of your contract.

This information sheet offers some practical guidance to assist you in considering your contract and whether you should attend a negotiation meeting.

Will each HHS follow the same process?
What should I do when I get my individual contract information?
Should I sign the contract without attending a meeting?
How will I be advised when my meeting will be?
Can I seek advice prior to the meeting?
Can I take a support person to the meeting?
What if the proposed meeting time does not suit me or my support person?
Do I have anything to lose by attending a negotiation meeting?
Do I have to sign the contract in the meeting?
Do I need to attend the meeting?
Who will be attending the meeting from the HHS side?
What elements of the contract are negotiable?
What is the time frame for negotiations?
Is the negotiation confidential?
Can I talk about what I want in the meeting?
What questions should I ask during the meeting?
What information should I have before I attend the meeting?
What can I start doing now to prepare?
How do I know whether I will be better or worse off under the new contract?
How will I know what I will be paid under the contract?
How can I work out whether my pay will be reduced?
How do I work out what I should be paid now?
How do I know what I have actually been paid in recent years?
How will my future remuneration work?
What will happen to my superannuation?
What will happen with private practice arrangements?
Can I elect to have overtime paid as I work it?
How do I know how I should have my overtime paid?
How do I know what my position description should say?
How will the HHS set my Key Performance Indicators?
This all sounds like a lot of work. Is it worth it?
Should I sign the contract?
I am a SMO. What happens if I don’t sign a contract?
I am a VMO. What happens if I don't sign a contract?
What happens if I don’t sign a contract by 30 April 2014?
I want to resign rather than sign a contract?  When should I resign?
Can I seek assistance from Avant?
Will Avant provide further updates?

Will each HHS follow the same process?

No, not necessarily.

Each HHS is responsible for determining its own contract and negotiation process and the negotiable terms and conditions of employment for individual doctors.

Some HHSs have engaged external consultants to assist with the distribution of proposed contract information, the negotiation meetings and the contract preparation process.

What should I do when I get my individual contract information?

You should read the information that has been provided to you by your HHS (including the information which is available on the website) so that you know what terms and conditions are being offered to you. You should seek further information from your HHS if you do not believe you have enough information.

If you have any questions about the terms and conditions being offered to you, you can seek advice and information from Avant and others.

Should I sign the contract without attending a meeting?

If you have read the proposed terms and conditions of employment, you understand them and you accept them for your ongoing employment, you can choose to sign the contract.

However, if you have questions about the contract or wish to negotiate with your HHS about particular terms and conditions, you should consider attending a negotiation meeting with your HHS representative.

How will I be advised when my meeting will be?

Some HHSs have taken preliminary steps to arrange meetings.  Others have not yet started this process.

Each HHS will determine its own arrangements for the meetings once a doctor has expressed interest in attending a meeting.

Can I seek advice prior to the meeting?

Yes.

You can seek advice from Avant, your industrial association or another person such as an employment lawyer.

Can I take a support person to the meeting?

Yes. You can take a support person, such as a union representative or lawyer. These guidelines provided by the Department of Health explain the role such representatives can play.

What if the proposed meeting time does not suit me or my support person?

You can ask the HHS representative to arrange an alternate meeting time.

Do I have anything to lose by attending a negotiation meeting?

No. 

You are under no obligation to agree to anything or sign anything at the meeting.  You are there to have a genuine discussion with the HHS representative about your proposed employment terms and conditions.  Your attendance at the meeting is not your consent to the terms and conditions being offered.

Do I have to sign the contract in the meeting?

No.  You should not sign any contract until you understand its terms and agree to be bound by them.

Do I need to attend the meeting?

If you do not wish to sign a contract, you do not need to attend a meeting.

If you do wish to sign a contract or you are thinking about it, you can attend a meeting to gather more information and understand the proposed terms of your employment.

If you understand and agree with the terms and conditions being offered to you, you can sign the contract without attending a meeting.

Who will be attending the meeting from the HHS side?

This will depend on the process at each HHS.  It is likely that each meeting will be attended by a HHS representative and an administrative support person.

What elements of the contract are negotiable?

As we understand it, the following terms and conditions in Schedule 2 of the proposed contract may be negotiable:

  • your position description
  • your Key Performance Indicators
  • whether you will be paid overtime on an annualised basis or as you work it
  • your private practice arrangements
  • your hours of work
What is the time frame for negotiations?

The HHSs have indicated that they would like to conclude all contract negotiations and for contracts to be signed by 30 April 2014.

You may wish to ask your HHS representative for specific information about the HHSs proposed timetable.

Is the negotiation confidential?

You should ask during your meeting whether the negotiation process is confidential.  Generally speaking, remuneration negotiations are meant to be confidential between the parties.

Can I talk about what I want in the meeting?

Absolutely.  The meeting is a two way discussion between you and the HHS representative.  The HHSs have indicated that most of the terms and conditions are standard and cannot be varied for any particular doctor.  This does not prevent you asking questions to understand the terms and conditions though and seeding variations if you wish to.

What questions should I ask during the meeting?

You should ask questions about anything in the proposed contract that you don’t understand or would like clarification about.

What information should I have before I attend the meeting?

You should understand your historical remuneration and your proposed remuneration.

You should also understand the terms and conditions that are being proposed for your ongoing employment

Your HHS will provide this information to you shortly if it has not already done so. You should ask your HHS for any additional information you require to consider the proposed contract.

What can I start doing now to prepare?

The Department of Health has issued the final version of the SMO and VMO contract.  The contracts and supporting documentation can be accessed here


You should read the contract and supporting documentation carefully.

You should make notes of anything that you don’t understand or any questions that you have about the contract.  You can seek independent advice about your concerns and you can, of course, discuss your concerns with the HHS representative in the meeting.

If you prefer, you can submit your questions in writing to the HHS and seek a written response.

How do I know whether I will be better or worse off under the new contract?

You can compare the proposed terms and conditions under the contract with your current terms and conditions of employment. 

Your current terms and conditions of employment are set out in a number of documents including:

  • legislation
  • your letter of appointment
  • your supplementary benefit agreement
  • for SMOs, your information on your award can be found here and MOCA3 here;
  • the VMO Agreement can be found here.
  • Queensland Health employment policies
  • Health Service Directives and Public Service Directives

You can also consider information previously provided by Queensland Health, Avant, your industrial association and other organisations about the changes.

How will I know what I will be paid under the contract?

As we understand it, each HHS will provide a document to each individual doctor setting out the doctor’s past and proposed remuneration, as well as proposed private practice arrangements. 

You may wish to independently verify the accuracy of the past remuneration information.

You will also have access to a remuneration calculator on the QHEPS website which can assist you to determine your future remuneration.

How can I work out whether my pay will be reduced?

You should compare your historical remuneration information with your proposed remuneration arrangements.

How do I work out what I should be paid now?

The current remuneration arrangements for SMOs are set out in the District Health Services - Senior Medical Officers' And Resident Medical Officers' Award - State 2012 and the Medical Officers' (Queensland Health) Certified Agreement (No.3) 2012.

The current remuneration arrangements for VMOs are set out in the Terms and Conditions of Employment, Queensland Government Visiting Medical Officers 2011

How do I know what I have actually been paid in recent years?

You can review your pay slips and other pay information (for example, your PAYG Payment Summary) for recent financial years.

You should have regard to any underpayments or overpayments that may have occurred as a result of errors in payroll etc over this time.

How will my future remuneration work?

Your future remuneration will be an annualised figure comprising most of the elements of your existing remuneration.

You will be able to elect whether to receive some elements of your remuneration as an annualised  figure or on an exception basis (i.e. you will be paid for what you actually work on the submission of AVAC forms).  This mainly applies to overtime payments.

For further information about the proposed remuneration framework, you should review the document entitled Total remuneration framework for Senior Medical Officers or Total remuneration framework for Visiting Medical Officers (as appropriate) which can be accessed here.

What will happen to my superannuation?

Queensland Health has issued information about superannuation for SMOs and VMOs under the proposed contracts.

What will happen with private practice arrangements?

Queensland Health has issued information about private practice arrangements under the contracts. 

Can I elect to have overtime paid as I work it?

Yes, you can make an annual election about whether you would like to receive an annualised amount in respect of the overtime that you work or whether you would like to have it paid as you work it.

If you receive an annualised amount in respect of overtime, you will not need to complete AVAC forms and other paperwork to claim overtime.

If you wish to have overtime paid as you work it, you will need to continue to submit AVAC forms and have them approved by your supervisor.

How do I know how I should have my overtime paid?

In deciding the best option for you, you should consider:

  • how much overtime was actually paid to you in the most recent financial years;
  • whether one of those financial years had particular circumstances that increased or decreased the overtime paid to you (for example, a colleague may have been on extended leave during that particular year requiring you to work more overtime);
  • your rostered and unrostered overtime;
  • the likely overtime requirements in your department in the coming year;
  • how past and future work practices are likely to be different;
  • the amount of overtime you worked but did not claim for
  • whether you are happy to continue AVAC forms and deal with paperwork.
How do I know what my position description should say?

Write down what you actually do in your job.  This may include:

  • your duties and  responsibilities (both clinical and non-clinical)
  • teaching
  • research
  • management
  • travel

Consider the position description proposed in your contract and determine whether it is consistent with what you actually do.


Consider whether there are things that you should be doing or would like to be doing which might be included in your position description.

Consider what other doctors who work in your department or outside your department do.

You should speak with the HHS representative about any differences between what you actually do and what your proposed position description says you will do.

Make sure that your position description is clear and that you understand what is expected of you

How will the HHS set my Key Performance Indicators?

Each HHS is responsible for setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the HHS and each individual doctor in the HHS.

It is likely that KPIs will vary between HHSs, between departments and between individual doctors.

Prior to the meeting, you should consider your proposed KPIs. 

You should try to understand:

  • the key drivers for the HHS (for example, managing fatigue or reducing overtime costs);
  • what you can do to assist in the delivery of the key drivers;
  • what you can do to assist in “value adding”.

Your achievement of KPIs will have a direct impact on your remuneration in subsequent years.  You should ensure that any KPIs are achievable by you before you agree to sign.

This all sounds like a lot of work.  Is it worth it?

It will take some time (and perhaps a great deal of time) for you to:

  • understand your current entitlements, your proposed entitlements under the contract and the differences between the two;
  • prepare for the meeting;
  • seek advice about areas you don’t understand; and
  • attend the meeting and any follow up discussions.

However, it is important that you make an informed decision about whether you should or should not sign a contract.

Should I sign the contract?

It is a matter for you as to whether you sign the contract after considering all of the pros and cons of doing so.

I'm an SMO. What happens if I don’t sign a contract?

If you don’t sign a contract:

  • the award and MOCA3 will continue to apply to you until 30 June 2015;
  • We do not know what will happen to the award MOCA3 after 1 July 2015.
  • you will lose your entitlement to private practice benefits (for example, your entitlements to your Option A allowance which may be up to $100,000 in the case of a full time SMO.  This may be a significant part of your salary).
I am a VMO. What happens if I don't sign a contract?

We understand that Queensland Health will honour any contractual commitment it has to a VMO. See also our information sheet for VMOs.

What happens if I don’t sign a contract by 30 April 2014?

Some HHSs have advised their doctors that the offer will lapse if the contract is not signed by 30 April 2014.  The HHSs are entitled to make an offer on this basis.  It is possible that HHSs will later extend the date for signing, but it is equally possible that no extension will be given.

Other HHSs have indicated that if contracts are not signed by 30 April 2014, they cannot guarantee that the doctor will be transitioned to the new arrangements by 7 July 2014 when the contracts are due to start.

If you do not sign a contract by 30 April 2014, there is a risk that you will not be offered the same terms and conditions after 30 April 2014 when the current offer lapses (including things such as your remuneration arrangements).

I want to resign rather than sign a contract?  When should I resign?

See our information sheet about resignation available for Avant members.

Can I seek assistance from Avant?

Avant has previously provided information to members about the transition to individual contracts:
Nov 1, 2013
http://www.avant.org.au/news/20131104-member-update-queensland-health-doctors/
Nov 25, 2013
http://www.avant.org.au/Campaigns/2013/FAQs---IR-amendments-in-Queensland
Dec 4, 2013
http://www.avant.org.au/news/20131204-qld-health-contracts-update/
Feb 7,2014
http://www.avant.org.au/Campaigns/2014/Updated-FAQs-IR-amendments-in-Queensland/

Will Avant provide further updates?

Avant will continue to provide updates as things develop.

This information is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on this content. Avant is not responsible to you for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information, and information is only current at the date initially published. If you are a member of Avant and would like further advice or assistance, please contact us on 1800 128 268.

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