#17 The challenge of pursuing medicine and raising a family

1 August, 2018

AMA Victoria's Women in Medicine Committee is hosting a seminar on Family Planning and Balancing Medicine on Thursday 9 August. The Committee supports the health and wellbeing of women in the industry, and is dedicated to providing an opportunity for female doctors to come together to discuss their personal health.

An AMA Victoria industrial relations specialist will speak on navigating parental leave entitlements, plus you can hear from a panel of doctors on different approaches to planning a family while being in the medical industry. There will also be plenty of time for interactive discussions to answer all of your questions. The role of your support network, who will play a critical role in managing your work and life balance will also be discussed, so partners are encouraged to attend.

Click the button below to book.



Acting General Manager of Workplace Relations, Grant Forsyth, provides an insight into some of the issues in the August/September Vicdoc.

We know from the hundreds of calls we receive each year that doctors agonise over this decision, which is often taken out of their hands. Under the AMA Victoria 2013-2017 Doctors in Training (DiT) Agreement, when a doctor (female or male) took unpaid parental leave, their employment contract would have most likely expired. Rather than being on parental leave, this technically left them unemployed. When the doctor decided to return to work they were forced to compete for roles alongside others who may not have had the same carer’s responsibilities. In addition, they usually did not feel they were able to request part-time or flexible working arrangements as it may have limited their chances of being offered the job. It’s a unique problem, compared to every other industry in Australia, where all permanent workers who take parental leave are entitled to be given their job back for up to two years, along with an entitlement to request part-time hours. 

These factors were the key consideration that led to the development of AMA Victoria’s claim for two-year contracts as a first step to move the industry towards permanent employment of DiTs (as is the case in New Zealand) and to the development of a new parental leave clause in the new Enterprise Agreement for DiTS.

The new clause is non-gender specific and allows for a doctor to have the remaining portion of their contract honoured by the health service where they work at the time of taking parental leave. This means that a doctor with six months left on their contract at the time of taking parental leave of more than three months will be entitled to come back to complete the six months after their leave, if they choose to do so. At that time they will also be able to negotiate part-time arrangements with their health service. While we recognise that this is not a perfect solution yet, it is a significant step forward for the medical profession.  

The improvements to the parental leave clause go further, with doctors now being able to access their personal leave in order to attend pre-natal appointments or parenting classes that are only available or can only be attended during the doctor’s ordinary rostered shift. There is also now a requirement under the agreement for the health service to provide a paid break to express milk or breastfeed a baby under one year-old. The health service must also provide a location, free of intrusion, for this to occur.


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