When I started at my current training practice, I had a discussion with my supervisor about taking two weeks of annual leave after Easter. At that stage, they agreed to this request but now the practice manager says I can only take one week of leave because the practice is too busy. I have already made arrangement for a two-week family holiday; what can I do?
The NTCER, clause 6.1, states that “it is up to the employer and registrar to agree on when and for how long paid annual leave may be taken. However, the employer must not unreasonably refuse a registrar’s request to take paid annual leave.”
The difficulty, in this case, is that what was initially agreed for registrar’s leave was based on a verbal discussion.
While verbal agreements are effective and can be enforced as valid and legally binding, there is a downside. Verbal agreements are notoriously difficult to prove which makes the enforcement of a verbal agreement time consuming and challenging. Not only do you need to prove the verbal agreement exists but you also need to provide evidence regarding the actual terms of the agreement, which, in the absence of written documentary evidence, can boil down to one person’s word against the other.
In this case, if the registrar has a detailed record of all their discussions and negotiations with the practice, and copies of all correspondence, such as emails or letters regarding the leave request, then this will provide documentary evidence that there was an agreement and assist in resolving the matter with the practice. However, without any of this written evidence it will be very difficult for the registrar to prove there was an agreement as both parties will be relying on memory in a “he said / she said” scenario.
The key point for registrars:
- Ensure that all items negotiated and agreed are put in writing, ideally in your employment agreement.
- Carefully identify and address each of the terms and conditions of the agreement so both parties have the same understanding and intention. This helps to limit any misunderstandings and disputes further down the track, which paves the way for a more harmonious working relationship. It also provides an accurate record in case the other party fails to live up to his or her side of the agreement, in which case you may need to seek legal advice.