It’s not just about the money. Rights and self-worth anyone?

It’s not just about the money. Rights and self-worth anyone?

Dr Jason Laurens
AMA (WA), Doctors in Training Co-Chair

Wednesday 22 May 2019


Each year the Hospital Health Check surveys doctors in training (DiTs) about factors that affect their pay, including accuracy of rosters, overtime and correctness of payslips.


Sadly while some areas of the 2019 HHC have shown significant improvement, our pay, which in part is a reflection of our value to the system, has continued to score very poorly across the board.


Some jump up and down and say we are well paid; well, we would be if we were paid correctly. Our EBA has been fought tooth and nail for over generations of negotiations, and every time we allow wage theft to occur, we are eroding our rights and self-worth.


A significant number of DiTs reported in the HHC that their rosters do not reflect the hours expected and worked. Why does this matter? Because if you are not rostered for the hours you work, you will not be paid appropriately.


Any work undertaken prior to 8am incurs a penalty of 25 per cent while hours worked after 6pm incur a penalty of 20 per cent. If you take a DiT rostered from 8am until 4pm who is expected to be at work every day from 7.30am for rounds, this adds five hours per fortnight with a 25 per cent loading for those hours. Across a 10-week term, that’s 25 hours.


An intern is paid approximately $37.70 per hour, so with the 25 per cent loading of those 25 hours, they would be paid an additional $1,179 for their 10-week term. Just imagine that intern is rostered correctly, they are now working more than 80 hours per pay cycle, meaning they would be paid five hours of rostered overtime per fortnight at 150 per cent of their base rate. Across a 10-week term, that increases their pay by approximately $1,413, meaning they have been short changed about $2,592. All down to the fact they have been incorrectly rostered by 30 minutes each day.


Now change that to an RMO or Service Registrar, and the amount we are being underpaid is significant and unacceptable. As public servants, our worth is expressed in dollars, therefore the health system is reducing our worth at every chance it gets through systemic wage theft.


In addition to the fraudulent rostering by some units is the contempt regarding unrostered overtime.


As the HHC points out, this is still a major issue across the hospitals. Working unrostered overtime to complete clinical duties is a given in some jobs. We know that out patients don’t suddenly get better and urgent clinical jobs can’t just wait until tomorrow. So DiTs buckle down and get them done as quickly as possible because they would rather be spending time with family and friends. This is why when we are required to work unrostered overtime, we should be paid it, not dissuaded from applying or having our requests sit in a tray somewhere waiting weeks to be ignored.


From unacceptable slip-ups to payslips. Results from the HHC highlight just how broken the current pay system is. A majority of DiTs work rosters that are set in advance. They work regular hours with no on-calls or call-backs, so how is it possible that their pay is incorrect? I’ve never worked in accounting or human resources but surely there is a better way of managing the pay system than this.


The time and energy spent by DiTs on correcting pay inaccuracies further depletes our desire to work for a hospital and impacts on our feeling of being a valued team member, which in turn negatively affecting our wellbeing.


While we want to be paid for the work we do, it’s also about protecting our rights and ensuring our worth is not eroded by a penny-pinching system trying to hide blatant wage theft.

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