#171 Forced annual leave is not on
1 June 2020
AMA Victoria has become aware that a number of health services have been requesting or directing that doctors take a period of annual leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some instances, the health services have communicated that the doctor has an ‘excessive leave balance’ and that the health service can direct a doctor to take leave.
No health service has a right under the AMA Specialist or Doctors-in-Training Agreements 2018-2021 to direct a doctor to take leave. No health service has a right under the Fair Work Act to direct a doctor to take leave. The agreements are very clear: “Paid annual leave may be taken for a period agreed between the doctor and the health service”.
The AMA accepts that health services and doctors should proactively and appropriately manage employees’ leave. It is not, however appropriate to raise these issues during a pandemic in the way some health services have been doing; and especially when there has been very limited opportunities for the doctor to make best use of any period of annual leave. We are also concerned that when the pandemic first began, doctors’ leave requests were being declined or cancelled by health services.
Where a health service implies or states that it has the right to direct a doctor to take a period of annual leave, the health service is breaching the Fair Work Act because to state or imply this is a misrepresentation of the workplace rights of doctors.
AMA Victoria believes that it is important for a doctor’s wellbeing to be able to take their annual leave at the time of their choosing.
If you are contacted by your health service about your excess annual leave, you should agree to discuss the issue, but be advised that you are entitled to take leave at a time when it is beneficial to you.
If you are being pressured to take annual leave, or if you have already been pressured into taking annual leave at a time when you did not want to do so, please contact the AMA Victoria Workplace Relations team on (03) 9280 8722 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Director Workplace Relations