Your rights and entitlements if you are considering resignation from Queensland Health

Mar 17, 2014

In response to questions from members, we provide the following information about how an SMO and VMO can resign from Queensland Health and what their rights and entitlements are upon resignation.

We are in no way commenting on whether a member should resign; rather we are responding to requests for more information.

It is up to you to decide whether to resign from your employment with Queensland Health.  Before you make a decision, we recommend that you carefully consider your own personal, financial and professional circumstances.

How can an SMO currently resign?
How can an SMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the SMO has signed a contract?
How can an SMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the SMO has not signed a contract?
How can a VMO resign currently?
How can a VMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the VMO has signed a contract?
How can a VMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the VMO has not signed a contract?
Will my employment end if I don’t sign a VMO contract?
Will I get a redundancy payment if I don’t sign a contract?
If I sign a contract, will my past service and leave entitlements be recognised?
If I don’t sign a contract will my past service and leave entitlements be recognised?
What if I change my mind after I have handed in my resignation letter?
Can Queensland Health unilaterally change resignation requirements or leave entitlements by a health employment directive?
Can I seek further advice or assistance from Avant?

How can an SMO currently resign?

An SMO can currently resign by giving 3 calendar months’ notice to Queensland Health.  We recommend that this notice is given in writing.

The SMO and Queensland Health can agree to a lesser period of notice.

Further information
Clause 4.3.3 of the District Health Services - Senior Medical Officers' and Resident Medical Officers' Award - State 2012 says:    

4.3.3 Notice of termination of senior medical officer
Except in the case of dismissal for misconduct, employment may be terminated by 3 calendar months' notice given either by the employer or the senior medical officer or by payment or forfeiture of 3 months' salary as the case may be provided that the senior medical officer and the employer may agree to a lesser period of notice.

 The Medical Officers’ (Queensland Health) Certified Agreement (No. 3) 2011 is silent about resignation.

If the required period of notice is not given, Queensland Health may require the SMO to forfeit 3 months’ salary. 

How can an SMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the SMO has signed a contract?

An SMO who has signed a contract can resign by giving the following period of notice:

  • <1 year continuous service – 4 weeks’ notice
  • >1 year but < 5 years continuous service – 3 months’ notice
  • >5 years continuous service – 6 months’ notice or payment in lieu

Clause 2 of the SMO contract makes it clear that an SMO’s service is not broken by the transfer of their employment to a HHS.  See also section 80AA of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld). This means that the SMO’s service with Queensland Health prior to 7 July 2014 will count as service for the purpose of determining how much notice is required on resignation.

An SMO and Queensland Health can agree (in writing) to a lesser period of notice. 

Further information
Clause 25(1) and (2) of the SMO contract sets out the resignation requirements.

If the required period of notice is not given, Queensland Health may require the SMO to forfeit salary in respect of the period of notice not given. 

How can an SMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the SMO has not signed a contract?

An SMO can resign by giving 3 calendar months’ notice to Queensland Health.  We recommend that this notice is given in writing.

The SMO and Queensland Health can agree to a lesser period of notice.

Further information
The District Health Services - Senior Medical Officers' and Resident Medical Officers' Award - State 2012 and Medical Officers’ (Queensland Health) Certified Agreement (No. 3) 2011 will continue to apply to those SMOs who do not sign a contract after 6 July 2014 until those documents are amended, replaced or revoked.

As is currently the case, if the required period of notice is not given, Queensland Health may require the SMO to forfeit 3 months’ salary.

How can a VMO resign currently?

A VMO can currently resign by giving 3 calendar months’ notice to Queensland Health.  We recommend that this notice is given in writing.

The VMO and Queensland Health can agree to a lesser period of notice.

Further information
Clause 2.6.1 of the Terms and Conditions of Employment, Queensland Government Visiting Medical Officers 2011 (the 2011 VMO Agreement) requires a VMO to provide 3 months’ notice of resignation. 

If the required period of notice is not given, Queensland Health may require the VMO to forfeit 3 months’ salary. 

How can a VMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the VMO has signed a contract?

A VMO who has signed a contract can resign by giving the following period of notice:

  • <1 year continuous service – 4 weeks’ notice
  • >1 year but < 5 years continuous service – 3 months’ notice
  • >5 years continuous service – 6 months’ notice or payment in lieu

A VMO and Queensland Health can agree to a lesser period of notice. 

Further information
The period of notice of resignation is set out in clause 23 of the VMO Contract.

If the required period of notice is not given, Queensland Health may require the VMO to forfeit salary in respect of the period of notice not given. 

How can a VMO resign after 7 July 2014 if the VMO has not signed a contract?

The 2011 VMO Agreement will end on 6 July 2014. The terms and conditions in the 2011 VMO Agreement, including the requirements about resignation, will not apply after that time.

We understand that Queensland Health will honour any contractual commitment that it has to a VMO if a VMO does not sign a contract.  Such VMOs should review their contract with Queensland Health to determine the requirements on resignation.

Will my employment end if I don’t sign a VMO contract?

Section 201 of the Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld) says that if a medical officer does not sign a contract, the medical officer’s employment will not end. For further information about what will happen if you don’t sign a VMO contract, see our FAQs “Individual Employment Contracts for Visiting Medical Officers”.

Will I get a redundancy payment if I don’t sign a contract?

Section 201 of the Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld)  says that if a medical officer does not sign a contract, the medical officer will not be entitled to a redundancy payment or other similar payment.

This section does not prevent a medical officer from being offered or entitled to a redundancy or similar payment if his or her position is redundant at some later time.

If I sign a contract, will my past service and leave entitlements be recognised?

Yes. Your past service and leave entitlements will be recognised despite the change in your employer from Queensland Health to a Hospital and Health Service after 7 July 2014, in accordance with clause 2 of the VMO contract and section 80AA of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld).
 

Your leave entitlements will not be paid out upon the transfer of your employment to the HHS and you will not lose those leave entitlements. They will carry over to your employment with the HSS. See also section 80AA of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld)

Any recreation or long service leave that you have not taken when you ultimately resign will be paid out. 

Any sick leave, professional development leave and other form of leave will not paid out on termination.  This is the current position and will continue regardless of what happens with your employment.

If I don’t sign a contract will my past service and leave entitlements be recognised?

Yes. Your past service and leave entitlements will be recognised despite the change in your employer from Queensland Health to a Hospital and Health Service. See also section 80AA of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld).
 

Your leave entitlements will not be paid out upon the transfer of your employment to the HHS and you will not lose those leave entitlements.  They will carry over to your employment with the HSS. See also section 80AA of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld).
 

Any recreation or long service leave that you have not taken when you ultimately resign will be paid out. 


Any sick leave, professional development leave and other form of leave will not paid out on termination.  This is the current position and will continue regardless of what happens with your employment.

What if I change my mind after I have handed in my resignation letter?

Once Queensland Health accepts your resignation, your resignation will take effect on the resignation date.

Queensland Health is not required to disregard or “tear up” your resignation letter if you change your mind. 


Tables summarising resignation options for SMOs and VMOs are included in annexures to this information sheet.

Can Queensland Health unilaterally change resignation requirements or leave entitlements by a health employment directive?

Yes, but there are minimum employment entitlements under the Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld) that cannot be changed unilaterally by Queensland Health.

Further information

Under section 51C of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld), the Director General of Health can make a health employment directive that will prevail over a contract or industrial instrument.

Queensland Health can vary its policies from time to time without agreement from employees.
However, section 51B of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld) says that a health employment directive will not prevail over legislation or a regulation under such legislation.


The Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld) contains the following relevant protections for all Queensland Health and HHs employees:

  • An medical officer’s service with the Department will count as service with a HHS (section 80AA of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld))
  • An employee accrues 4 weeks’ annual leave per year or 5 weeks’ per year in the case of shift workers (section 11)
  • An employer must pay out untaken annual leave entitlements on termination (section 13)
  • An employee accrues long service leave and must be paid in respect of untaken long service leave on resignation in accordance with the Act (section 43)
  • An employer is required to make a payment to an employee if the employer does not require the employee to work out the notice specified in the Act (section 85)
Can I seek further advice or assistance from Avant?

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 call Avant on 1800 128 268.

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