Before You Sign: Understanding the Doctor Independent Contractor Agreement

Contractual agreement with a pen resting on top
An independent contractor agreement is a contract between a doctor and a health service such as a hospital, Health District or clinic. An example of an independent contractor agreement is that between a hospital and a physician for the provision of medical services as per the terms of a specific contract, for example Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs).

If you are considering working as an independent contractor, it’s important that you understand the different elements of your contract before you sign. Such an agreement would outline and include the following information:

  • Services – this section outlines the specific services to be provided and under what circumstances. Services are often set out on a separate schedule.
  • Location – the physical location or locations where the contractor doctor is expected to perform the services. This may be one site or many. The health facility may stipulate the right to send the contractor to another location not listed, however this is usually only done with prior agreement with the doctor.
  • Fees – this section shows the fees for regular sessions as well as any on-call allowances or overtime. The contract may also contain a section about GST, whether it is applicable and how and when it will be paid.
  • Invoicing and payment – showing how often and via which means the independent contractor should submit invoices, the information required on those invoices, and also when the invoices will be paid after receipt.
  • Absences – the time frames relating to notice required to be given for planned absences.
  • Insurances and indemnity – any insurances required to be held by the independent contractor or whether they are covered by insurance held by the health service.
  • Termination and disputes – under what circumstances either party may terminate the contract, and what the process is should a dispute arise.
  • Ownership of medical records – in most cases ownership will be retained by the health service. An independent contractor agreement will typically also include a clause relating to confidentiality.

Another inclusion may be whether or not and under what circumstances an independent contract doctor is allowed to nominate another practitioner to perform the services required. Most agreements also contain a glossary to clarify standard definitions within the contract to assist those agreeing to the terms.

It is important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities before commencing work, and know how those rights and responsibilities differ from that of an employee. An independent contractor agreement should clearly set out the terms and conditions to avoid any misunderstanding in the relationship.

If you would like assistance in understanding your contract, contact us today. If you are currently looking for a position in Australia, please feel free to browse our selection of doctor job vacancies.