On a previous rotation, I needed an 80-line excel spreadsheet to keep tabs on the inaccuracies in my on-call pay. None of that was the fault of the department I was working for, but clearly something was going awry regularly between the department approving it and the hospital/HSS processes.
Most of that was the substitution of recall hours for overtime, especially when those recall hours straddled the end of a regular shift. Despite the only reason to be working was that you were on call and fielding a myriad of requests from ED, the ward and other hospitals across the State, somehow this extra scope of practice from the norm was considered overtime. This interpretation is one the AMA (WA) disagrees with and one that has been a longstanding issue.
On the face of it, conflating recall and overtime might seem trivial, however, they are not the same thing. Labelling it as overtime devalues the work of the practitioner, fails to
recognise the burden carried being on call and robs the practitioner of the higher recall rate they are entitled to.
That higher rate also acts as a marker of risk for the hospital – of both staffing costs and staff safety. Where the recall cost for a department is too high, that should trigger consideration of alternative rostering methods, not just a rethink of how to devalue the work being done.