Know your employment obligations, for a safer healthcare practice
If you’re a doctor-owner of a medical practice that you run through a company structure, you have personal obligations as its director to ensure it complies with employment and work health and safety legislation.
Here, we look at your most important employment obligations and legal liabilities as director of your practice.
Employee terms and conditions
Healthcare practice staff, doctors and contractors are covered by different laws.
All practice employees are covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). In addition:
- Practice managers, receptionists and admin staff are covered under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2020
- Nursing staff are covered under the Nurses Award 2010.
Doctors are a separate consideration as typically, they’re not employees of the practice (except for GP registrars).
There are two main models for engagement of doctors:
- Your practice engages the doctor as a contractor to provide services to your patients.
- The doctor engages your practice to provide practice management services via a services agreement. This is the most common model.
Casuals are yet another consideration. With the new definition of ‘casual’ in the Fair Work Act, it’s now easier for practices to determine who is a casual and who is not.
Your practice (and you as its director) must ensure compliance with the Awards and other requirements that apply to the engagement of staff.
An online practice management platform like PracticeHub can link you directly to the relevant legislation and Awards online, so you always access the most current information about your obligations.
Work health and safety
As a practice owner and director, you must exercise due diligence to ensure the practice complies with its work health and safety obligations. Reasonable steps to exercising due diligence include:
- Having up-to-date knowledge about work health and safety matters
- Being familiar with the operations of the practice, including its hazards and risks
- Ensuring that appropriate resources and processes are available to minimise hazards and risks
- Ensuring measures to minimise hazards and risks are implemented
- Ensuring that these processes are adhered to.
You must notify your state work health and safety regulator and your workers compensation insurer of certain safety incidents that occur in your workplace.
Issues such as bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace also fall under WHS obligations. It’s important to be aware that it doesn’t matter what an alleged perpetrator intended with their behaviour, what matters is how the ‘victim’ feels about the situation, which potentially leaves you exposed to risk of a claim.
In PracticeHub, you can create, store and update your WHS policies and procedures so you stay compliant, and your employees stay safe.
Under the Fair Work Act, it’s mandatory that you, as an employer comply with the Award relevant to each employee. Failure to pay the correct rate and overtime can result in an Award breach claim. In some cases, it’s not only the company, but you personally may face a claim. Similarly, failing to pay, or underpaying superannuation can leave you as director personally liable. Even if you don’t deliberately underpay your employees, you may be liable.
PracticeHub makes your employment obligations compliance easier
Ensuring compliance with employment obligations starts with your business strategy and policies and procedures. The latter is your ‘rule book’ which documents for your staff, how to do their roles, and it also needs to outline accepted behaviours from staff and patients.
Your policies and procedures are living documents, that evolve as your practice does. They serves as a staff training tool and means for measuring staff performance and KPIs.
The most effective policies and procedures are those that are up to date and accessible. Using an online platform like PracticeHub lets you store your policies and procedures, strategy and other essential documents in a centralised location, so all staff can access them to better play their part in the running of your practice, for a safer, successful business.
Our recent webinar, Employment obligations and liabilities for practice owners and healthcare directors, uses a case scenario based on real-life situations to demonstrate how easily adverse situations can escalate, with useful tips on how to minimise and mange your risk.Watch the replay
Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant and PracticeHub are not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2021.