MECA FAQs – Medical Education & Conference Leave
Question not covered below? Get in touch.
Clause 26.0 (pages 35 to 37 of your MECA) (see link). Please also see FAQs on protected training time and costs of training.
You have a minimum entitlement to 5 days MEL per year, starting from your second year of service with the DHBs (first years and for those who are new to NZ from overseas see below). The “year” is 1 January to 31 December.
You have a total of 12 weeks MEL to use per vocational training programme. Of the 12 weeks; if undertaking college or medical university courses, exams and the like you can take up to 6 weeks in any one year, inclusive of the 5 days. If you are undertaking a diploma you are entitled to 2 weeks in one year (again inclusive of the 5 days).
House Officers: First years are entitled to MEL, but the maximums still apply, so you do need to think about the value of whatever it is you are seeking to do in the wider context of your future career pathway.
The 12 weeks is not per DHB but per training programme. So if your first period of MEL is 6 weeks for the medical part 1’s whilst employed in Auckland and then you move to Wellington for advanced training in cardiology, you have 6 weeks left to use.
If you undertake a second training programme, you get another 12 weeks e.g. micro and infectious diseases, ICU and anaesthetics.
You do have to give 3 months’ notice of MEL to give the DHB time to provide cover.
We advise all members to do some planning around what career path(s) you are considering and when key requirements for leave (e.g. part 1’s) will arise to ensure your contractually based rights are there to support you.
Your career plan (see link) could help here; it will also help the DHB understand what you are doing and why and enable them to do some planning around cover for you when you are away.
Assuming you have given notice, that you have some entitlement still up your sleeve, and what you want the leave for is MEL, then essentially “no”.
However when the leave is taken is negotiable. If for study then when that study occurs (within reason) might need some discussion; we simply can’t have all the part 1 sitters off studying at the same time and keep the hospital running – so it usually gets staggered. We do encourage some discussion amongst those affected well ahead of time to see what people want and how it can be fairly accommodated for all.
By contrast, if the leave is for the days on which the exam is sat – that is non-negotiable (or what is the point?). Again the 3 months’ notice helps with this and most DHBs or at least the service you are in will know when the major exams are.
Under MEL the 6 weeks in one year is linked to vocational pathways, but not the 5 days per annum and with costs of training, reimbursement arises where you are on the pathway to vocational registration, not necessarily on the programme itself. This wording is deliberately designed to catch the many variances we have amongst training programmes, what happens before formal entry or during depending on college and to be flexible enough to also allow you the opportunity to “choose wisely”.
Access to this provision is restricted to registrars on year 5 and above of the salary scale and those 12 months past part 1’s. Either way, you have to be at least 3 years on in training as a registrar.
Conference leave is designed for stuff that is not strictly “on the pathway” but is related to what you are doing. E.g. An O & G registrar who has a special interest in endometriosis attending the international conference on such.
You get 8 days paid leave (a few additional days are added for those above year 7 on the scale) and $6500 to spend on costs. This entitlement is over and above MEL and the costs of training so we advise some thought as to usage. If “whatever” is on the pathway, don’t waste this additional opportunity. Try to keep your conference leave for the stuff that adds to your areas of special interest.