Blog

What’s ‘leave’ got to do with it?

Monday July 27, 2020

Amanda Kaczmarek, Senior Advisor Industrial/Legal, AMA (WA)

Not a week goes by at the Australian Medical Association (WA) without one of our Workplace Relations team members receiving a query from a doctor about leave.

“Should I even bother putting in a written application for leave?”

“What about notice periods?”

“And leave cover? Who is going to do my work?”

The questions keep coming and we continue to assist members to achieve the best outcomes possible.

Access to leave is a workplace right and essential to managing your wellbeing, health and safety. Your employer cannot arbitrarily prohibit annual leave access.

Doctors who have been informed that they cannot access annual leave for the remainder of 2020 are encouraged to contact the AMA (WA) Workplace Relations team via mail@amawa.com.au.

Annual Leave

Access to annual leave continues to be a challenge for doctors in training (DiTs) and the COVID-19 situation is likely to exacerbate this issue due to potential workforce shortages caused by the deferred arrival of overseas trained doctors.

Despite difficulties accessing leave, DiTs are strongly encouraged to apply for annual leave when desired. Your employer is required to confirm in writing when your annual leave may be taken within two weeks of receipt of your written annual leave application.

DiTs with annual leave that has accrued more than 12 months prior cannot have their annual leave request refused provided the practitioner has provided their employer at least two weeks’ notice of their intention to take leave.

Practitioners are reminded that it is not your responsibility to find leave cover and that your employer has an obligation to ensure adequate staffing levels to enable practitioners to take their accrued annual leave.

Parental Leave

The AMA (WA) continues to be contacted by many doctors in training who experience difficulty in accessing parental leave. We would like to remind members of the following:

  • Practitioners do not need to complete 12 months’ of continuous service to access parental leave. In this regard, the only reference to “12 months continuous service” pertains to the entitlement of paid parental leave. See clause 40(18)(a) of WA Health System -Medical Practitioners – AMA Industrial Agreement 2016 (the Agreement).
  • Practitioners do not need to be the primary caregiver to access parental leave. They do need to be the primary caregiver to access paid parental leave.
  • Both parents may access parental leave up to eight weeks concurrently at the time of the birth or adoption of a child. See clause 40(2)(b) and (c) of the Agreement.
  • Male doctors can be the primary caregiver for their child.
  • Only one parent can be the designated primary caregiver at any time. Parents can alternate being the primary caregiver.
  • Parental leave applications cannot be rejected due to workforce shortages.

The AMA (WA) is currently working on a guide for medical parents which will be shared with members once finalised.