This article covers information specific to working in Australia as a locum vet, and is taken from fact sheets produced by Kookaburra Veterinary Employment.
Registration as a Vet
You need to register in each State in which you want to work* (see information below about National Recognition of Registration), and you must be registered prior to your first day of work. The contact details for all the Vet Boards are listed on our website at http://www.kookaburravets.com/Australia/Ozlinks.htm on the links page. The requirements vary from State to State but basically you’ll need to fill out the forms, pay the fee, provide proof of your ID and degree certificate, and probably provide a letter of good standing from the last place you were registered with. The fee varies a lot, contact the state boards for current pricing. Some States have pro rata registration which is really handy for locums, and WA has temporary registration on a month to month basis (maximum 3 months).
Most vets doing locum work register in just one State to start with until they see where they want to work, and then register as required in others. It doesn’t usually take very long in any of the States (a couple of weeks at most).
Note that in WA you have to present in person at the Board Office in Perth in order to register.
You will get a registration number, and it’s good practice to print the number with your signature when signing any forms in Practice.
*NB: There is currently National Recognition of Registration in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the ACT – Veterinary surgeons who currently hold primary registration and reside permanently in another Australian state or territory are entitled to practise as a veterinary surgeon in these States on a part-time, casual or locum basis without having to register with the local Veterinary Board. In Northern Territory, secondary registration is now free of charge although vets intending working in the NT should still fill the paperwork out to apply for secondary registration.
Contact your accountant or the ATO for advice regarding the most tax effective way for you to work as a locum.
You have to fill out a form notifying your TFN (tax file number) to each employer when you start work, and they then deduct tax from your pay. You have to fill out a Tax Return at the end of the Financial year (June 30), and you may get a tax refund.
Your employer should also pay Superannuation (a compulsory pension) for you into a Super fund, of your choice. From 1st Nov 2021 employers are required to check with the ATO whether the employee has a “stapled fund” (ie. their preferred existing fund). Super is currently 10% of salary.
Australian locums have historically worked as self-employed contractors, however, you have to register as a business and get an ABN – Australian Business Number. You must provide this ABN to the clinic before they can pay you as a contractor/self employed locum. The clinic then pays you in full, and you sort out your own tax. You can find more info at www.ato.gov.au You may also have to register for GST. Unless you are a registered company, for normal locum work it’s likely that the clinic should also pay superannuation for you under the Superannuation Guarantee – consult your accountant or contact the ATO for more information. However, even if you supply the clinic with an ABN and an invoice for your work, it is still possible that for both tax and superannuation purposes you should be treated as an employee. You can find more info and an online calculator to assess whether you are an employee or a contractor at www.ato.gov.au/business/employee-or-contractor/how-to-work-it-out–employee-or-contractor/
Locum rates range from $35 to $80+ an hour (average $55-65/hr) at the moment (November 2021). If you do out of hours work you should get paid an on call allowance for having the phone for each period up to 24 hours, and then get the relevant hourly rate if you do any calls. Some clinics still pay a % of the professional fee for any out of hours calls. Quite a lot of city practices use out of hours emergency centres now so there’s no OOH duties. Minimum employment conditions are set by the Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award 2020 – you can find copies online by Googling the Award name.
To see 2019 Salary Survey Results compiled by Kookaburra, visit http://www.vetsuppliersdirectory.com.au/2019-salary-survey-results-part-1/
Professional Indemnity Insurance
The Practice Insurer may cover all vets working at the practice – locums should ask the clinic to check. However, it is a good idea to have your own PI Insurance. If working in South Australia, any vet must be covered by either their own or third party PII arrangements as a requirement of registration – and this also applies to vets practising under interstate registration.
- Veterinary Defence Association 02 8355 9900 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Guild Insurance 1800 810213
- Petplan Professional 0411 265746 email@example.com
Workcover comprises work health and safety and workers compensation laws. Work-related injuries should be covered by the compulsory insurance required for every employer. Contractors may be covered also, depending on their working arrangements.
Other Professional Registration
State legislation requires vets to be licensed in order to use Radiation Equipment. The process varies from State to State – ask the clinic that you are going to be working at. There is now a Mutual Recognition Act that may cover applications for a licence in other States or Territories.
- NSW epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/radiation/radiation-user-licence/user-licence-introduction
- ACT https://health.act.gov.au/businesses/radiation-safety/apply-radiation-licence
- Qld https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/licences/radiation-licensing/apply/licences/veterinary
- South Australia https://www.epa.sa.gov.au/business_and_industry/radiation
- Victoria https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/radiation
- Western Australia http://www.radiologicalcouncil.wa.gov.au/Pages/Licensing.html
- Tasmania https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/radiation
- Northern Territory https://nt.gov.au/industry/licences/radiation-licences-for-medical-and-dental-practitioners
Some States have compulsory microchip identification of companion animal cats and dogs, and implanters are required to be licensed in Qld, NSW and Victoria. You may also be required to be licensed to implant microchips in horses.
- NSW https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/public/dogs-cats/information-for-professionals/
- Queensland business.qld.gov.au/industries/service-industries-professionals/service-industries/veterinary-surgeons/microchipping/laws-implanters
- Victoria https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/domestic-animals-act/registration-legislation-and-permits/microchipping-of-dogs-cats-and-horses/microchipping-for-authorised-implanters
Kookaburra Veterinary Employment
This information includes the views and opinions of Kookaburra Veterinary Employment and is of a general nature only. Factual information is believed to be correct at the time of writing, however, should not be relied upon and any person should confirm details with the relevant authorities and through their own research prior to acting on any of the suggestions in this article.