Archive: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

Unregistered medical practitioner not entitled to a contract completion payment

The Industrial Magistrate’s Court has dismissed part of a claim for entitlement to a contract completion payment. A medical practitioner employed in the Western Australian public health system claimed before the Industrial Magistrate’s Court that he was entitled to a contract completion payment at the completion of a fixed term contract. Payment of a contract completion payment was alleged to be an entitlement under clause 20(5) of the Department of Health Medical Practitioners (Metropolitan Health Services) AMA Industrial Agreement 2013 (the Agreement).

Scaddan IM considered that the purpose of a contract completion payment is 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.

The claimant’s limited registration as a medical practitioner under s 65 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (WA) Act 2010 (the National Law) expired on 20 November 2015. The claimant applied unsuccessfully on three occasions for renewal or reinstatement of his ‘public registration by AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).’ Shortly after, AHPRA provided the claimant with a Certificate of Registration Status noting the claimant was unregistered and his registration had expired on 20 November 2015.

The claimant argued that because he was not ‘struck off’ any register, he was eligible for restoration to the ‘public register’ provided he remained registered for the purposes of the National Law and payment of the contract completion payment. That is, until he was ‘properly removed’ from the register, he was still registered or on the register.  

Scaddan IM did not accept the claimant’s characterisation of his registration status, and found that the claimant ceased being registered in any of the categories of registration in Part 7 of the National Law. Scaddan IM found that, from 20 November 2015, he was no longer registered as a registered health practitioner in the medical profession.

Her Honour found 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 does not permit him to work as a medical practitioner. Her Honour found that it cannot have been contemplated that cl 20(5) of the Agreement be intended to compensate unregistered practitioners for being unable or ineligible to do the work that the Agreement provides they do.

Scaddan IM 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. Her Honour dismissed the part of the claimant’s claim relation to payment of the contract completion payment.  

The decision can be read here