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Specialists in Public Hospitals

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Full-time or part-time employment – what is the difference?

A full-time specialist (salaried specialist, whole time specialist, staff specialist) is generally employed for 38 hours per week (40 hours in a small number of hospitals).

Part-time specialists are also described as fractional specialists, VMOs, sessional specialists or “Lochtenberg” specialists (named after the Chair of the review that created the modern day part-time specialist). Part-time specialists are appointed fractionally. A fraction is the amount of hours per week that the doctor is employed divided by a 35-hour week. Therefore 0.2 of a fraction is 7 hours of paid employment during the week.

Conditions for full-time specialists and fractional specialists (such as leave entitlement and so on) are generally the same. Some exceptions are:

  • The hours of work of a fractional specialist can be changed unilaterally by the hospital at the end of the contract or where permitted by giving notice. Therefore there is some risk that hours of work will not be maintained.
  • The hours of a full time Specialist are 38 hours per week, or in some hospitals, because of older agreements, 40 hours per week. An appointment of less than 38 hours per week is a fractional appointment.
  • If a full time Specialist wishes to reduce their hours to a fractional appointment it is up to the hospital to agree or not agree. There is no automatic entitlement for a full time Specialist to reduce their hours.
  • The statewide hourly rates for part-time specialists are generally also the “market rates” whilst for full-time specialists the statewide rates are “minimums” with most full-time specialists paid above those rates.

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