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Locum Vet Checklist for Employers

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Employing a locum vet can happen in a rush – but there are several things that an Employer in Australia should check prior to the locum starting work. This article is based on the “10 Things to ask your Locum Vet” factsheet written by Kookaburra Veterinary Employment.

Stack of CVs1. Visa.

An overseas vet should have a valid work Visa. It is an offence to employ someone without a valid work visa, so it’s the employer’s responsibility to check. Most overseas vets should have their passport with them or be able to provide details about their visa. See www.border.gov.au for more information. You can now check to see if a worker has work rights in Australia at www.border.gov.au/Busi/Visa – you should ask for consent to check the worker’s visa details first.

2. Tax File Number.

If a vet is going to be working for you as an employee, you will need their Tax File Number. See www.ato.gov.au for more information

3. ABN.

If a vet says that they are self employed, they should provide you with their ABN – Australian Business Number. See www.ato.gov.au for more information, or consult your accountant for individual information about the best way for your practice to pay locums. Some locums are employed as casual employees, some locums are engaged as independent contractors. It’s likely that either way, the clinic will have to pay superannuation under the Superannuation Guarantee. There are Calculators online on the ATO website that help you work out whether your locum is an employee or a contractor, and in either case whether you should be paying superannuation for them. Keeping a record of your use of these calculators can support your decision if necessary.

4. CV and References.

Locum vets should be able to provide contact details for 1 or more recent veterinary referees. Clinics should make sure that any locums introduced to them have the required experience for a particular locum job. Kookaburra Veterinary Employment can provide CVs for all locums listed on their register – these CVs are provided by the locum vets to Kookaburra, and Kookaburra doesn’t provide any warranty as to the accuracy of any CV. We recommend that clinics take up one or more references for a locum prior to booking them for any work.

5. Vet Board Registration.

Following mutual recognition implementation in many States, you can now search for a particular registered veterinarian on the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council website at www.avbc.asn.au and find the State that they have primary registration with. It is good practice for vets to use their board registration number after their signature when signing certificates etc. See www.avbc.asn.au for information about registration of overseas qualified veterinarians.

NB: In Western Australia there is the requirement for a veterinary surgeon who appoints a locum to give written notice to the WA Vet Surgeons’ Board of the name of the locum, and the period of the appointment before, or as soon as possible, after the appointment commences.

6. Professional Indemnity Insurance.

The practice insurer may cover all vets working at the practice, or the Locum vet may have their own PII. It’s a good idea to make sure that all your locums and employees have adequate cover. In South Australia this is a requirement for all vets registering with the SA Vet Board.

7. Workers Compensation.

The locum vet may or may not be covered by the Practice workers compensation scheme – check with your Insurer.

8. Medical Insurance.

The locum vet may have their own medical insurance or, if from overseas, may be covered by a reciprocal agreement with Medicare.

9. Other Professional Registration.

For example, some States require vets to be licensed to use Radiation equipment.   Vets may also need to be registered or licensed to perform other duties such as microchipping, preg testing, certification for export etc.

10. Contract

Although practices and locums may not decide to formally enter into a contract, it could be a good idea to set down terms of employment and working conditions in writing prior to the start of the locum period. Things to consider include:

  • Pay rate;
  • after hours remuneration;
  • days off;Signing a Contract
  • overtime;
  • normal hours of work;
  • type of payment arrangement and when the vet is to be paid;
  • type of employment (casual employee, contractor);
  • Superannuation;
  • GST;
  • Travel Costs;
  • Professional registration costs;
  • Responsibility for keys – for the clinic and for scheduled drugs
  • Accommodation and responsibilities of the locum with respect to the accommodation and use of facilities if applicable (eg phone, internet, food in the pantry);
  • provision of vehicle for work – and private use – and fuel costs;
  • any provision for short term cancellation of the locum period by either party.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Contact the AVA HR Hotline for more information on 1300 788977 or email avahrhotline@whr.com.au (you must be an AVA member).

Author:

Wendy Nathan
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.

17/08/2020 |

Working as a Locum – Part 1

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To work as a locum, vets should have a minimum of 2 years’ experience, and preferably over 3 years for sole charge practices. Not only is locuming a great way to finance travel, it is also a good way to gain additional experience in working with different people, in a wide variety of different conditions, and improve your veterinary skills.

photo of vetsIn major cities, although there are more clinics in a smaller geographical area, there is usually more competition for locum work, therefore to be assured of a constant supply of work, locums should be willing to travel – and you can miss out on amazing experiences if you don’t consider travelling to work in more rural and regional areas. Country jobs will usually supply accommodation and maybe a vehicle for work and private use, however, city practices very rarely supply either accommodation or a vehicle.

Locum vacancies can range from a single shift to 5 or 6 months’ work, and include full time and part time hours. Locums help cover for temporary staffing shortages, illness, periods of leave and holidays, and parental leave. Jobs can be advertised up to 4 months in advance, however, they can also be listed at very short notice (next day). On average, locum jobs listed with Kookaburra Vet Employment are to start within 1-2 months.

Work

Most clinics require a locum with a minimum of 2-3 years’ experience who doesn’t require direction for most clinical judgments, but who will ask for help if it’s required or if they get out of their depth. Surgical experience is necessary – you must be able to do at least routine surgery including desexings in a timely manner (ie. not take too long).

It can be important to stick to clinic protocols, within a perceived duty of care. Clinics may see a high proportion of particular types of cases – eg ticks; snake bite; poisonings – ask the regular vet before they go away if there is a clinic protocol or for any tips on these type of cases.

Record keeping is extremely important – the locum may move on, but the clinic owner or regular vet then has to continue with ongoing care. Make sure that your handwriting is legible, and you use any computerised system to keep comprehensive clinical notes. Locums should try to fit in with existing staff and not rock the boat!

Make sure that you stick to practice pricing – please don’t undercharge just because you perceive the practice prices to be excessive.

Try not to put things off until the regular vet gets back.

Conduct

Practices expect a locum to be honest, punctual, friendly, polite, and able to take direction if required without taking offence. Derogatory, sexist, and discriminatory behaviour and comments are absolutely not acceptable.

If a work vehicle, or a vehicle for private use is supplied, it should be kept clean on the inside (if not the outside!), and driven with due care and attention. Establish the protocol for paying for petrol before commencing work.

If accommodation is supplied, it should be left clean and tidy. Talk to the employer about any use of private items or groceries if you are staying in their own house BEFORE you use anything, and establish whether you are expected to replace any items used.

CVs and References:

You should be prepared to send your CV to clinics when you apply for a vacancy. It should contain up to date information and be accurate, particularly with up to date contact information for you including a mobile number preferably with a message bank. Include contact details for recent referees, and email addresses, particularly if your referees are overseas.

Contract

Although practices and locums may not decide to formally enter into a contract, it is a good idea to set down terms of employment and working conditions in writing prior to the start of the locum period. Things to consider include:

  • Pay rate;
  • after hours remuneration;
  • days off;
  • overtime;
  • normal hours of work;
  • type of payment arrangement and when the vet is to be paid;
  • type of employment (casual employee, contractor);
  • Superannuation; GST;
  • Travel Costs;
  • Professional registration costs;
  • Responsibility for keys – for the clinic and for scheduled drugs
  • Accommodation and responsibilities of the locum with respect to the accommodation and use of facilities if applicable (eg phone, internet, food in the pantry);
  • provision of vehicle for work – and private use – and fuel costs;
  • any provision for short term cancellation of the locum period by either party.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Contact the AVA HR Hotline for more information – 1300 788977 or email avahrhotline@whr.com.au  (you need to be an AVA member (Australian Veterinary Association).

Author:

Wendy Nathan
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.

05/08/2020 |

Vets and Interstate Travel

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Travel Information for VetsFor Vets wanting to travel both into, and around Australia, there is a raft of new requirements and restrictions. This information was updated on 5th August, but requirements can change rapidly at the moment – please check for up to date information before making travel plans.

For Vets wanting to cross border into Queensland:

https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19

For Vets wanting to cross border into New South Wales:

https://preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19

For Vets wanting to travel into ACT:

https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/

For Vets wanting to cross border into Victoria:

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

  • Metropolitan Melbourne is currently at stage 4 restrictions; Regional Victoria (including Mitchell Shire) will be at stage 3 restrictions from 11:59pm 5 August.
  • From 11.59pm on Wednesday 5 August stay at home restrictions will apply to the whole of Victoria. Face coverings must be worn away from home.
  • Metropolitan Melbourne: From 2 August there is a curfew in Metropolitan Melbourne from 8pm to 5am every evening. From 11:59pm 5 August only permitted businesses can open – Vet clinics are permitted industries, with a COVID Safe Plan. Employees must carry a Permitted worker permit. https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/permitted-worker-scheme-covid-19 – this is the employer’s responsibility to organise
  • Restrictions: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19
  • If you cross into Victoria at the moment, you may face restrictions & quarantine on leaving the State.

For Vets wanting to cross border into Tasmania:

https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/

For Vets wanting to cross border into South Australia:

https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/

  • Travel Restrictions: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions
  • A pre-approval process is in place for travelers wishing to enter South Australia – The Cross Border Travel Registration. All travellers intending to enter SA should register for pre-approval.
  • Application for pre-approval: https://www.police.sa.gov.au/online-services/cross-border-travel-application
  • From 29 July, travellers from Victoria are not permitted to travel to South Australia, including South Australians.
  • Essential travellers living in cross border communities have distance based travel restrictions.
  • Non-essential travellers from NSW and ACT must self-quarantine for 14 days, AND submit for COVID-19 testing on the first and 12th days of arrival
  • Travellers from NT, Qld, Tas and WA are able to enter SA directly without restriction.
  • Police will be stopping travellers at checking points.

For Vets wanting to cross border into Western Australia:

https://www.wa.gov.au/government/covid-19-coronavirus

  • Strict border controls are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. You cannot enter Western Australia without an exemption. Most regional travel restrictions within WA were removed on Friday, 5 June 2020.
  • From Sunday 19th July, no one will be allowed into Western Australia if they have been in Victoria or New South Wales in the previous 14 days, unless they meet new exemption requirements. If they do meet requirements, they need to quarantine for 14 days and have a COVID test on arrival and on day 11.
  • Border Control: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-travel-wa

For Vets wanting to cross border into Northern Territory:

https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/

  • From 17th July, all arrivals must fill in a Border Entry Form
  • From 17th July, if you are arriving in the Northern Territory from a delcared COVID-19 hot spot (currently the whole of Victoria, plus Sydney, the South Coast NSW, Port Stephens, Brisbane, Ipswich & Logan in QLD), you must complete 14 days of forced quarantine.
  • If an area you have been in within 14 days of your arrival in the NT is declared a COVID-19 Hotspot you must contact the COVID-19 Hotline 1800 008002
  • Hotspots: https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/travel/quarantine/hotspots-covid-19
  • Border Controls: https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/travel/domestic-travel

Thanks to Jo Edwards of Kookaburra Veterinary Employment for compiling this list of links.

Author:
Wendy Nathan
Kookaburra Veterinary Employment

Updated 5th August 2020

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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.

08/07/2020 |

Applying for Jobs – Graduate Veterinarians

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Interview Day on calendarAlthough this article was written for new Veterinary Graduates, and first published in the Kookaburra Veterinary Employment new graduate job newsletter, the general points covered are equally applicable to experienced vets.

How To Apply

Initial contact depends on the job advert – if it asks for applications in writing then don’t phone up. If you are happy to chat on the phone, then this is a great way to find out more about a clinic. If you prefer to send your CV first then that is fine.

Include:

  • your CV
  • written reference/s if you have them,
  • A cover letter.

You can email, post, or fax these. A cover letter should say why you’re sending your CV, and include for example:

  • a little bit of information about what type of job you are looking for, what your interests are, aims, skill competencies, etc
  • why you feel this one is suited to your particular skills
  • what level of commitment you are offering eg. Practices are often hopeful that new graduates will stay longer than 12 months!
  • Any other relevant info that isn’t included on your CV, for example, visa details for overseas graduates.

If the ad gives a phone number then phone the clinic first to find out if the job is still available, and to ask if you can send your details through.

Follow-up:

Follow-up is really important. Vet Clinics are busy places, and Vets are notoriously unorganised. Your CV may sit on, or even worse, at the bottom of a pile of papers waiting for a “paperwork day”. Don’t assume that just because you haven’t heard anything, they’re not interested. Kookaburra Veterinary Employment receives many calls from clinics where they have mistakenly deleted emails, mislaid paperwork, and lost the bit of paper with a vital phone number and name.

  1. Phone to make sure they received your CV/letter and to give them a voice to put to the paperwork.
  2. If you haven’t heard anything, follow up again in 2 weeks. Don’t pester the clinic, but don’t leave it too long either. Even when a clinic says they’ll ring you, often they won’t!

Interview:

Cartoon of Interview technique
It’s important to have a face to face interview if possible. Not only does the clinic need to evaluate you, you need to evaluate the clinic – see whether it’s up to date, does it run smoothly, meet the vets and the nurses and see if you’ll be able to get on with them ok, do they allow enough time to meet you properly and show you around. It’s best to spend half a day, or even a full day at the clinic. If it’s a mixed practice, take your protective clothing along so you can go on calls if necessary.

Be on time and look smart!

You shouldn’t just have a ½ hour interview – the clinic may feel they are able to make a snap judgement about you in that time, but they may get a false impression, and you certainly can’t get a good impression of them in that time. If that is what they offer, ask if you can spend the rest of the day at the clinic anyway.

Many clinics will pay your accommodation and travel expenses if necessary for an interview, within Australia.

Practice your interview technique with your family and friends – don’t use clinics to get interview experience. Only accept interview opportunities if you are really serious about your job application.

Research:

Make sure you do some research about the clinic or company that you are applying for a job with. Look them up online; check out their website, opening hours, Facebook page, Instagram account. They’re probably going to be looking you up! Phone the clinic and chat to the receptionist or the vet nurse who answers the phone, or ask if you can contact any current employees, or the employee who is leaving. In addition, check out the local area if you’re anticipating relocating. Look up clubs, sports facilities, schools, recreational opportunities, & real estate.

Too many new graduates take a job, and then leave in under 12 months. You must make sure that it is the type of clinic that you would feel happy working in, and that you will get the support necessary to kick start your career.

  • Talk to the vet, ask them about the clinic – the type and proportion of work they do, any special interests, find out the shift roster, what equipment they have, is there a range of clinic protocols, do they do in house pathology etc
  • Talk to the nurses. Nurses are extremely important allies for recent grads. They often know more than you do about common problems and dealing with clients, and they are very familiar with clinic protocols. You need to be able to get on with the nurses and support staff.
  • Will they be able to support you as a new graduate adequately? Graduates vary as to the amount of support they need – you may need hands-on supervision for some procedures and not for others; will you be able to talk to another vet at any time if you need advice? Are the nurses fully qualified? Do they have a structured support programme for new grads?
  • Ask about the after-hours roster. In my first job, for the first month I didn’t have to do out of hours calls. Then, once I knew my way around, I was added to the roster, but with a 2nd vet to call if necessary. This is a very good way to ease you in gently and relieves your stress levels considerably (and those of the clients!).

Salary Expectations

At some point in your interview, you may be asked what your salary expectations are, or alternatively, it may be important for you to ask what the salary on offer is. Some employers may turn the question around and ask what you’re making now. If you don’t expect the question, you may have an awkward moment. Do as much research as you can so that you’re prepared. The Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award 2010 [MA000118] sets minimum hourly rates. New graduate salaries often stay close to the Award. Kookaburra Veterinary Employment’s 2019 Salary Survey is published at http://www.vetsuppliersdirectory.com.au/2019-salary-survey-results-part-1/

You could say something like “according to my research, my understanding is that $60-70K per year is typical based on the role and requirements” or if you want to delay answering, “I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. Could we talk about salary once I’ve heard more about the job on offer?”.   Be honest; be realistic, and don’t sell yourself short. It’s also important to look beyond the Salary figure – look at any additional benefits such as training & bonuses. If you think you’re currently being underpaid, let them know what you’re being paid at the moment, but that you know from research that other vets are getting a certain amount at this level, and why you believe that you are worth it.

Getting a job offer:

If you are offered a job, you don’t have to accept immediately – it’s ok to let them know you have other interviews and wait to see what else you are offered. However, please keep the surgeries up to date with your plans and if you are going to turn them down, tell them so. It is not good practice to accept a job, and then continue to attend other interviews in the hope of getting a ‘better’ job – and then calling the first practice a week before you are due to start work to tell them that you won’t be turning up after all. Behaving in this way will hurt your future job prospects and your reputation.

If you accept a job, ask for a firm offer letter in writing to avoid misunderstandings. If a clinic won’t give you a firm offer or messes around, then don’t take the job! They probably wouldn’t be very good to work for.

You can also request a contract or similar document stating your conditions of work.

A General Note of advice:

Don’t restrict your search to your local home area – be prepared to travel. Although new grads do need a lot of support, sometimes it can be better to move right away from home so that you can concentrate on settling in to your new job, getting to know the people you work with, joining in local activities etc.

Author:

Wendy Nathan
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.

Job search representation

15/06/2020 |

AVA Return to Work Program

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AVA’s Return to Work Program has arrived and enrolment is open. It is an online self-paced learning program consisting of 5 clinical modules, 4 non-clinical modules and a practical skills guide. The program is recommended for veterinarians who wish to return to clinical practice after a career break or period of leave and veterinarians in practice and industry who are seeking a refresher.

Learners can pick and choose the modules they wish to complete in the program and if they have difficulty deciding, the self-assessment will recommend the clinical modules they may wish to consider. The non-clinical modules and practical skills guide are suitable for all veterinarians and the clinical modules are targeted at the small animal veterinarian only.

The Australian Veterinary Student Group is happy to announce a collaboration with the Australian Small Animal Veterinarians (ASAV) group. All student members who have joined the ASAV special interest group will be given an opportunity to register in AVA’s online Return to Work program. Due to the recent restrictions for students to complete extramural placements, the AVA has extended the availability of this program to student members with ASAV membership for free.

Students can choose to complete the entire program, or they can pick and choose the modules they wish to complete. Final year students may wish to select modules that will help develop much needed clinical skills. For other students interested in this initiative, participation will provide an excellent introduction to the practical skills used routinely in later and professional years.

The modules available to choose from include:

Clinical modules;

  • Module 1: Performing Medical and Diagnostic Techniques
  • Module 2: Providing Anaesthesia and Critical Care
  • Module 3: Performing Surgery
  • Module 4: Undertaking Clinical Pathology Testing
  • Module 5: Providing Medications and Therapeutic Interventions

Non-clinical modules;

  • Module 1: Getting Ready: Self-Reflection and Priority Setting
  • Module 2: Getting Ready: Practical Actions
  • Module 3: Finding and Applying for Veterinary Positions
  • Module 4: Settling into Practice Life

To find out more about the Return to Work program and the self-assessment, please visit the Return to Work page and the FAQ page on the AVA Website https://www.ava.com.au/education-events/ava-return-to-work-program

02/06/2020 |
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