The NTCER is not a registered award. Your signed employment agreement is the legal document under which you are employed. The current NTCER agreement applies to the current training year and supersedes the previous NTCER agreement. The NTCER is negotiated between GPRA and General Practice Supervision Australia (GPSA).
NTCER Agreement for 2023-25
The key NTCER amendments to be implemented across the next 4 training semesters (2023.1-2024.2) include:
- staggered 4% increase to minimum Base Rate;
- extending Educational Release support for GPT3/CGT3 registrars;
- amending Educational Release to provide full-time parity for part-time registrars;
- strengthened focus on fatigue management through increase in allocated Administration Time;
- revised Preamble to emphasise the minimum nature of the terms and conditions under the NTCER, above which practices and registrars are free to negotiate for mutual benefit and according to commercial viability;
- replacing the Restrictive Covenant with a Non-Solicitation clause.
A 4% increase in the base rate of pay at each level will be introduced in 2 stages:
- 3% increase to the base rate of pay introduced in Semester 2, 2023, then
- 1% increase to the base rate of pay introduced in Semester 2, 2024.
This staggered increase is supplementary to annual adjustments to the registrar base rate in line with the indexation of the MBS, level 23 consultation item. New base rates of pay take effect in the training term immediately following the annual 1 July announcement of the MBS indexation factor.
How will this look for 2023.2?
The below table, provided as an example only* (given the actual MBS indexation factor for 1 July 2023 is unknown at the time of writing), shows the effect of the base rate change for the second semester of 2023:
TABLE BEST VIEWED IN LANDSCAPE ON MOBILE
Registrar Training Term
(3%) 2023.2 Increase to minimum Hourly Rate
(example used is 4%*)
This calculation is explained in the revised NTCER (Schedule A – Remuneration) as:
BR22 + 3% inc + MBSI = BR23
- “BR22” = Base Rate for 2022.2 / 2023.1
- “BR23” = Base Rate for 2023.2 / 2024.1
- “MBSI” = MBS Indexation
NB: Base Rate for 2024.2 / 2025.1 (“BR24”) will be calculated as BR23 + 1% inc + MBSI
Within 10 days of the announcement of the MBS indexation factor at the commencement of each financial year, Schedule A – Remuneration is amended to reflect the adjustment to base rates. When GPSA and GPRA jointly inform their members of the revised schedule, this includes an adjusted table showing the actual impact on wages, reiterating that the above table is illustrative only.
What is the effect of the staggered increase on top of annual MBS indexation?
Additional registrar earnings from the periodic calculation of billings/receipts will reduce with any increase to the base rate of pay given these periodic payments are calculated as the difference between “x” and “y”, where
- x = the agreed percentage inclusive of superannuation1 (see clause 7 of the NTCER) applied to the registrar’s total billings/receipts; and
- y = the base rate of pay underwritten by the employing practice.
1Practices need to adjust the wages of all salaried staff by the annual increases to the super guarantee percentage described by the ATO in Table 21 as 11% on 1 July 2023; 11.5% on 1 July 2024; and 12% on 1 July 2025.
All registrars, regardless of their training placement category, are to be paid at their base rate of pay for mandated educational release that occurs during normal weekday hours. Registrars are not paid for educational release that occurs after hours or on weekends.
What has the educational release clause changed from 2023?
The 2018 NTCER Agreement did not provide for paid educational release for GPT3 registrars and above. This impacted registrars and training practices whose RTOs scheduled mandated training during the GPT3 term.
Full-time and part-time registrars are now equally entitled to time off in lieu on the nearest rostered day to (immediately preceding or immediately following) the educational release day.
Why has this change been agreed?
GPSA and GPRA agree equitable access to educational release for part-time registrars to be fair and reasonable. Previously, a part-time registrar mandated to attend a full-day workshop on a day the practice has not scheduled them to work has added this day to their training workload without any reference to fatigue management.
The intention behind providing a defined allocation for administration (admin) time is to allow a registrar sufficient time to keep their patient records up to date, follow up with patient matters, and consolidate learning.
Accordingly, it has been agreed to increase the admin time allowed for registrars under the revised NTCER to 30 minutes per half-day session, up to a maximum of 5 hours per week. This time is not cumulative and is to be allocated and used in each session.
Given this revision to the NTCER Agreement will require an amendment to rosters already drafted for Semester 1 of 2023 (2023.1), this change will not be effective as a minimum condition until Semester 2, 2023 (2023.2). For 2023.1, the minimum allowance for administration time remains “approximately” 2.5 hours.
Can a Registrar ‘bank’ their admin time to finish early each day or take a ½ day off each week?
No – the purpose of scheduling regular administration time is to assist with fatigue management, support the provision of a safe working environment for the registrar and practice staff, and importantly the safe provision of medical services to patients.
Can the practice provide additional admin time from Semester 1, 2023?
Practices are always free to allocate additional administration time above that included in NTCER. Practices and registrars should talk openly about what it may mean when additional admin time is routinely required. This might imply a need for extra support with time management, practice systems, or other topics that fall under the business of general practice.
GPRA and GPSA have worked together collaboratively in respect to the updated NTCER. We are committed to providing a minimum set of terms and conditions to ensure both registrars and practices are provided with standards that are fair and equitable, delivering safe working conditions in the context of GP training.
GPRA and GPSA are not party to your business structures, opportunities and challenges. We understand and acknowledge that each general practice across the country must be guided by its own business priorities, operating conditions and risks.
General practices and registrars should be comfortable to negotiate changes to financial terms (base rate, % and/or frequency of calculation) as long as any such changes neither fall below the minimum standards outlined in the NTCER.
Registrars can negotiate paying percentages and intervals as long as billing is calculated no less than once every 13 weeks.
Practices can choose to offer contracts that require paying percentages at any interval they find most beneficial to their circumstances so long as billing is calculated no less than once every 13 weeks.
Registrars, like employees in any industry, seek to be valued for their contribution. A registrar who wishes to negotiate conditions above the minimum standards documented in the NTCER should be respected for valuing themselves and recognising what they can bring to the practice as an employee.
Whether or not the practice is willing or able to negotiate conditions in excess of the NTCER is dependent upon the business’ unique conditions. The practice should not feel pressured to negotiate conditions that are unsustainable, nor should the registrar’s desire to negotiate improved conditions cloud the practice owner / supervisor’s judgement regarding a registrar.
The use of Restrictive Covenants in Australia is becoming less prevalent. Courts generally only enforce them if they are found necessary to protect the business goodwill of the party that benefits from the clause.
GPSA and GPRA believe that it is unlikely that a GP registrar would have the necessary influence after a 6 or 12 month term to negatively impact a practice if they move to a competitor in close proximity.
A more common scenario across all industries, and one which GPSA and GPRA agree should not be encouraged in general practice, is where a former employee attempts to solicit clients (patients) and/or staff to follow them to another business. For this reason, the Restrictive Covenant in the previous version of the NTCER has been replaced with a Non-Solicitation clause, reflecting the reality of the current business environment and the mood of the courts in upholding restrictive covenants (see clause 17).
- Where GPT3s have mandated workshop requirements during standardly rostered hours, these will be included as paid time by practice (unless on a weekend or after hours)
- Training practices to provide part-time GP trainees educational release in parity with full-time GP trainees
- Clause to be removed from NTCER and replaced with non-solicitation of patients and staff
Do the adjustments to the NTCER require any changes to the registrar’s roster?
The practice should review rosters for part-time registrars and refer to the educational release calendar issued by RACGP and ACRRM.
If a part-time registrar is attending educational release on a day that they are not standardly rostered, the practice will need to provide them an alternative day off in the same week.
The practice will need to ensure that ALL registrars who attend College-mandated educational release days during normal hours receive their base rate of pay for these days. Please note that there is no requirement to pay for educational release that occurs after hours or on weekends.
3% increase to minimum base rate on top of indexation
- GPSA and GPRA will ensure all members are informed of the new hourly/weekly wages ahead of commencement of Semester 2
Scheduled administration time of 30 mins per session (half day) to max 5 hours per week
Do I need to schedule this in the Registrars appointment profile?
Yes. Formal administration time of 30 minutes per session, up to a maximum of 5 hours per week, will need to be built into the registrar’s appointment profile. This should be allocated in a way that supports the registrar by providing time and opportunity to complete administrative tasks throughout the day. This time is not to be taken to provide an early finish or accumulated for use as a block to provide a (half) day off.
Nothing changes with reference to the NTCER, ie the same terms and conditions apply for 2024.1 as the previous semester (2023.2).
Further 1% increase to minimum base rate on top of indexation
- GPSA and GPRA will ensure all members are informed of the new hourly/weekly wages ahead of commencement of Semester 2, 2024
One of the main concerns registrars have with calculation and payment of wages based on the % of fees over a period that is longer than the standard fortnightly pay period is the taxation impact at time of payment.
Many practices utilise payroll packages such as MYOB, Xero, Quickbooks etc which base the calculation of PAYG withholding on the payment being made, rather than the cumulative effect of that payment on the recipient’s wage over the full financial year.
This may result in a higher than necessary amount of tax being withheld from the wages paid under this process.
GPSA and GPRA are unable to provide taxation advice. We suggest you speak with your Accountant or Tax Agent regarding the most appropriate method to calculate the amount of tax paid on lump sum wages.
Critical points to remember:
The NTCER is the minimum; you can negotiate for terms and conditions higher than the NTCER ✚
Negotiate based on the value you bring to your practice; you are more likely to be successful in negotiating terms and conditions above the NTCER past GPT2/PRRT2.
Negotiate with a win-win attitude ✚
Aim for the best possible situation for you and the practice. Practices often operate on a profit margin of about five per cent; large increases in your pay can mean big losses for the practice. Be willing to trade or compromise beyond money (for example, offer to work late on Friday if you need to leave early on Monday).
Do not start work at a practice unless you have a signed employment agreement ✚
This protects both you and your employer against employment problems and ensures your expectations are both on the same page.
Do not rely on verbal agreements ✚
Get everything in writing; even if it seems small, such as dates for your annual leave or rostering arrangements. Get everything confirmed in writing.
Registrars should be treated as employees ✚
Legal advice we have obtained as well as information provided by the Australian Tax Office states registrars are legally viewed as employees. It is illegal to treat employees as contractors if they are not a contractor.
On top of your percentage, you will also get superannuation, annual leave and associated on-costs as an employee ✚
Annual leave is paid to you upon termination if you do not use it. According to the NTCER, annual leave is paid at your base rate. If you have a fortnightly billing cycle and want to take two weeks annual leave, align your leave with your billing cycle.
Try to negotiate to be paid via billings rather than by receipts ✚
Being paid via receipts means that your income can be spread out over a longer period.
Negotiate a short billing cycle ✚
Your billing cycle is the amount of time after which your practice calculates your billings/receipts vs your base wage. Shorter billing cycles can be financially advantageous.
Familiarise yourself with some discussion topics prior to negotiating your employment agreement with the practice.
*The NTCER does not apply to those in community controlled health, Australian Defence Force Registrars, some Aboriginal Medicine Services, and registrars on remediation.