Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Unregistered medical practitioner is not entitled to a contract completion payment

The Industrial Magistrate's Court has granted an application made by a respondent to dismiss part of a claim that relates to the non-payment of a contract completion payment. The claimant, formerly a registered health practitioner, alleged that he was entitled to payment of a contract completion payment under clause 20(5) of the applicable Department of Health Medical Practitioners (Metropolitan Health Services) AMA Industrial Agreement 2013 (the Agreement) which states that "a practitioner who, upon expiry of a fixed term contract, is unsuccessful in seeking a new contract shall be paid a Contract Completion Payment…"

The definition of practitioner was considered by Industrial Magistrate Scaddan who found that it was defined in the Agreement as a medical practitioner. Further, that the definition of a medical practitioner under Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (WA) Act 2010 (the National Law) is a person who is registered under in the medical profession. Scaddan IM determined that it is only after an application or registration has been granted and the person reapplies within the requisite time that the person is then a registered health practitioner.

Scaddan IM determined that the claimant's limited registration had expired and as such he ceased to be registered as a health practitioner under the National Law from that time.

Noting that the Agreement did not provide for a redundancy or severance payment, Scaddan IM considered that in context, the purpose of contract completion payment was to compensate a practitioner who genuinely wants to, and can, be employed in the public health service but the service is unable to provide future employment. This purpose was found to be further supported by the fact that there was no automatic right of reappointment following the expiry of the claimant's fixed term contract.

Her Honour concluded that it was a term of the claimant's fixed term contract to be registered under the National Law. And, that without registration, the National Law would not permit the claimant to work as a medical practitioner and so they would not be able to do the very thing that the Agreement contemplates them to do.

Her Honour ultimately found that because the claimant was an unregistered practitioner at the time of the expiry of his fixed term contract he was not eligible for a contract completion payment. Scaddan IM dismissed the part of the claimant's claim relating to payment of the contract completion payment.

The decision can be read here.

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