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Locum Contracts and Agreements – what should they contain?

In our first article for Locums we looked at the crucial element of employment ‘status’ – how you know what status you have, and what options you have for running your Locum business.

Here we look at the next crucial issue – to be a self-employed Locum you need a Contract or Agreement in place with the employer you will do the work for.

It is important to have this written Locum Contract / Agreement in place before you start work for a variety of reasons:

  • To formalise the agreement in writing to avoid any problems or ambiguity (but the Agreement must reflect the reality of the working relationship you actually have – see our ‘status’ article)

  • It is difficult for your professional body or any other advisor to advise you on your status / employment rights without one

  • Ensure the end-user of your services knows what status you have and agrees to this

  • Prove your status and tax liability to HMRC

What should go in your contract?

The minimum a Locum contract should contain is:

  • Dates of booking

  • Duration of booking

  • Location

  • Hours of work / Length of session / Length of appointments / on-call hours required, and start and finish times

  • Hourly rate / fees per session / extended hours rate / fees for on-call (fees can either be based on a time-basis; number of hours worked, or on a workload-basis; fee for a set number of appointments or visits)

  • A substitution clause (another Locum can be used – this is important to prove your self-employed status)

  • Travel / mileage rates / other expenses that will be paid

  • Notice period to be given/received to terminate the agreement

  • A clause stating that the agreement can be terminated if its terms are breached by either party

  • When you expect payment (if payments are received late for work done, a Locum has a right to charge interest under late payment legislation)

  • A description of duties – a definition of your core work and responsibilities and any additional or enhanced services you will provide. What happens if an employer does not believe the work you deliver under a contract is to the high standard they expected? Requirements for services to be of the highest quality may be specified in the contract or implied under statute or common law. But what amounts to ‘satisfactory’ or ‘good’ quality can be open to dispute, unless the agreement between the parties sets out in detail the quality requirements you must meet

  • That the Locum is undertaking the work in a self-employed capacity and undertakes to meet his / her own NICs, income and other taxes arising from the income

  • The responsibilities of the employer should also be clarified – information on computer usage; induction information; pensions forms if appropriate; supplying appropriate equipment; prompt notification of complaints; notice period for cancellation of services; attendance at training/meetings

  • Responsibilities of the Locum should include providing original evidence of the following: inclusion on a medical performers list; medical indemnity; GMC registration; CRB check.


If your Locum booking is cancelled before or on the day of booking without the agreed notice what can you do?

  • Your contract should ideally contain a cancellation fee to be paid in these circumstances

  • If there is no cancellation fee, you should be entitled to claim your fee for the day unless you have agreed in writing before not to do so; especially if you have not been able to ‘mitigate’ your losses by getting other work

If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues then talk to us at The HR Kiosk (click here) – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – you can hire us for as much time as you need.

Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

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