How does GP registrar employment work?

Employment in hospital is different to employment in a GP clinic, particularly during your training years.

Working as a doctor in the public hospital system, you will be employed as a salaried medical officer. An employment award or enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) covers all aspects of your remuneration and other employment terms and conditions.

GP registrar employment in general practice

In a general practice setting, you will still be an employee, but you will typically be working in a small business setting.

Unlike the hospital system, where employment is covered by a set award, a GP registrar must negotiate their own employment terms and conditions. However, the National Terms and Conditions for the Employment of Registrars (NTCER) outlines the minimum terms and conditions which you, as a registrar, may receive. The NTCER is not a registered award. Your signed employment agreement is the legal document under which you are employed.

GP registrars usually receive a guaranteed base wage (the minimum base wage is set out in the NTCER), as well as a percentage of billing income generated from the number of patients seen in the practice. GP registrars are able to negotiate this percentage of billings with their practice.

Employment entitlements

The NTCER, based on the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act, outlines remuneration, leave entitlements, work hours and other employment terms and conditions for GP registrars.

Before employment begins, an employment agreement is negotiated and signed between the registrar and their training practice. Training posts are obliged to o er at least the minimum terms and conditions set out in the NTCER.

Registrars may be able to negotiate terms and conditions in their employment agreement that are more generous than the NTCER minimum, particularly in the later stages of training when they have gained more experience, and subsequently, seeing more patients.

When signing a contract it is important to ensure it covers all matters in the NTCER and that it is not open to interpretation regarding key aspects of employment.

Under the NTCER, registrars usually receive a guaranteed base wage as well as a percentage of billing income generated from the number of patients they see in the practice.

Full-time registrars work a minimum of 38 hours per week. This includes education time and administration time. Consultation hours (the hours spent seeing patients) are usually between 27 and 33 hours per week. However, this can vary, especially in rural areas. Depending on the training post, weekend consulting, after-hours and on-call work, home, hospital and nursing home visits are a normal part of general practice.