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Case Study – PA Allocation

Dr X, a Specialty Doctor, approached MDS in 2017 with a query regarding his pay and working hours as he felt he was working more than his contracted hours.

Dr X commenced his employment 12 months earlier and was employed full time on a 10PA contract, which was split between 8.5PAs DCC and 1.5 SPAs. Dr X has a full clinic commitment and participated in an on-call rota. Dr X had a proposed job plan which had been due to be reviewed after 3 months of employment, but this has not happened.

MDS asked Dr X to send them a copy of his contract, job plan and rota. This was reviewed by an MDS Advisor who felt that on paper it appeared that Dr X was indeed working more hours than he was being paid for.

MDS Advice
MDS advised Dr X that quite often what is shown on paper does not actually reflect the reality of working practice and therefore the best way to deal with this matter is to conduct a formal diary study. MDS also advised that this diary study should be conducted using a recognised recording method e.g. a recognised Excel Spreadsheet or Software Programme.

MDS drafted an email for Dr X to send to his Clinical Lead and HR Department raising his concerns and that he wanted to start a diary study. This email was copied into MDS to make sure the Trust were aware of our involvement. The Trust acknowledged this and agreed that the diary study should take place over 6 weeks (the length of Dr X’s on call rota). This would ensure that the ‘busy and quiet times’ were recorded to give as accurate a picture as possible.

Once the diary study was complete it was submitted to the Trust for analysis. This analysis showed that Dr X was indeed working 0.5 PAs more than he was being contracted for.

MDS wrote to the Trust asking that they recognise these hours and accept that Dr X had been underpaid since the commencement of his employment. MDS also asked that Dr X’s salary be adjusted to recognise this fact and that a job plan review should take place as soon as possible.

The Trust agreed that Dr X had been underpaid and agreed to adjust his salary from the commencement of his employment. Dr X and his Clinical Lead met shortly afterwards to review the proposed job plan and agreed the necessary adjustments to ensure Dr X worked the 10 PAs he had been contracted for.

Learning Points:
• It is important to ensure that a Doctors working pattern reflects their contracted hours. Whilst it is recognised that the medical profession is not one that runs on the clock an employee is entitled to be paid for the hours they work.
• All requests for underpayment should be supported by evidence and in this example a diary study which is recorded at the time is the best evidence you can provide.
• If new into a role with a proposed job plan, try to ensure that a more formal job plan review take place within that initial work period (3 months in this case).