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Five must-dos when reviewing your intern employment contract

20 June 2019 | Sonya Black, Avant Special Counsel – Employment, Avant Law

Being offered an intern position at a hospital is an exciting step in your career. It may be your first ‘real job’.

The hospital will send you a letter of appointment which sets out the terms and conditions of your employment. In your excitement, you might be inclined to sign the letter and return it as soon as possible. However, it’s important for you to understand the terms and conditions before you sign on the dotted line so that you know what will be expected of you.

Here are our tips for reviewing your letter of appointment:

1. Your letter of appointment will refer to other documents which specify the terms and conditions of your employment (for example legislation, an award and / or certified agreement and directives and policies). You may wish to familiarise yourself with these documents.

2. Read the letter of appointment carefully and ensure that you understand:

  • Your start date - there may be an orientation program before the official start of the intern year and you will not want to miss it.
  • The period of your employment - you will only be offered employment as an intern for one year. Your employment will finish at the end of that year.
  • Where you will be required to work - if you are moving away from where you are currently living, there may be additional information in your letter of appointment about your living arrangements.
  • What hours you will be required to work - including overtime and shift work.
  • Your remuneration.
  • What you will be expected to do - this is commonly set out in a document called a 'position description'.
  • How you can take leave during your intern year - it is likely that you will not be able to take annual leave when you want to. If you need to take annual leave at a specific time (for example, because you are getting married), you should discuss this with the hospital as soon as possible.
  • Your employment obligations.
  • How you can resign or how the hospital can dismiss you.
  • What the hospital indemnity policy will cover you for - it will not cover everything that might happen to you as a doctor (for example, if you have a dispute about your employment with the hospital).

3. Ensure you have all the necessary paperwork you may need before you start work. For example:

  • obtain registration with the Medical Board of Australia
  • read the Code of Conduct
  • obtain a working with children clearance
  • update your immunisations – check the Health Care Worker immunisation requirements and ensure you have documented evidence of your immune status to vaccine preventable diseases
  • undergo a pre-employment medical
  • obtain a Medicare provider number if required
  • ensure you have medical indemnity insurance.

4. Return the signed letter of appointment in time. If you can’t, you should call the hospital and seek an extension. Make sure you get this in writing. Your offer of employment may only remain open for a particular period (for example, seven days). If you do not return your signed letter of appointment within that time, the hospital may withdraw its offer of an intern position.

5. Read and complete any forms that are sent with your letter of appointment (for example, a tax file number declaration and a bank details form).

Finally, if you don’t understand a term in your letter of appointment, or you do not agree with it, you should contact the person nominated in the letter in the first instance.

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