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Specialists in Public Hospitals

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What is a “Heads of Agreement”?

The Heads of Agreement is a formal documented agreement entered into between the Australian Medical Association (Victoria), the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation, the Victorian public hospitals (represented by the Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association) and the Department of Health.

It is an unregistered agreement which binds the funder (Department of Health) and the employer (public hospital) to maintain agreed conditions of employment applying to doctors within the public sector. The Heads of Agreement are implemented via administrative arrangements. Completing a Heads of Agreement or registering formal Enterprise Agreements were prerequisites for funding of remuneration increases under Victorian government policy.

The advantage of this type of agreement is that it enables changes to conditions of employment to occur by administrative action. The benefit is that wages increases flow relatively quickly.

The disadvantage is that enforcement of underpayment can be more difficult as there are limitations on obtaining third party resolution of disputes. Generally it relies on hospitals being informed of the obligation by their employer association (VHIA) or the Department of Health. Often, Heads of Agreement are included as contractual terms in individual contracts for example, the contract will contain a term such as “The doctor will receive any annual increases in salary as a result of agreements entered into by AMA Victoria and hospitals”.

Applicable Heads of Agreement are:

To streamline the process in future, the parties have agreed to enter into one Multi-Enterprise Agreement covering specialists in all public hospitals in Victoria. That process is continuing.

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