FAQs From Your Colleagues

Below you will find a set of answers to FAQs raised by your fellow TIs. For answers to further FAQs, you can visit our MECA FAQs page.

What’s the deal with leave?

You are entitled to 6 weeks of annual leave per year. That’s 1-2 weeks per quarter!

Please try to take your leave at regular intervals, and book it early. You work hard and need regular breaks to keep your performance at its best.

When you apply for leave, apply IN WRITING at least 45 days in advance and keep copies of all leave request forms. They have been known to go missing! The DHB needs to respond IN WRITING to your request within 2 weeks. If they don’t respond, your leave is taken as granted.

Depending on how many public holidays (or statutory days) you work, you will get more leave, or “lieu days”. Essentially, for each public holiday on which you either work or are on call (which is “work”), you get a day “Time Off In Lieu” – or TOIL as it is known. Most RMOs accrue at least a week’s further leave as TOIL. This leave can be taken with 2 weeks’ notice to your employer (they can’t decline it) and must be taken within a year of earning it.

In addition, you will accrue extra leave for shifts worked.

How do I call in sick?

Your sick leave entitlement is 6 weeks per year. Let the DHB know as early as practical if you cannot come to work because you are ill. If you fall sick during normal working hours, call the RMO Office. If it is out of hours call the duty manager. Don’t be manipulated into working by the old “Well, how are we supposed to cover you?” That is the DHB’s problem, not yours. Your DHB must have plans in place to cover for sickness and, despite what you may think, you are not indispensable!

Also remember that you will get sick – you are just as human as your patients. If you are sick, don’t turn up to work!  You could spread your illness to your colleagues and patients and no-one will thank you for that!

What costs can I claim for?

Work-related costs are all claimable, including all of your Annual Practicing Certificate (APC) and some transfer costs from your medical school to your first hospital job. You can also claim for other expenses, such as mileage for using your car driving to clinics, telephone allowance if you are on call… Talk to NZRDA for more information.

Do we get paid overtime?

Your salary is determined by your run category which is based on hours normally worked: 55 – 60 hours a week is paid at a higher level than 50 – 55 hours a week.

If you work extra shifts you are entitled to “additional duties payments”. This generally occurs if you pick up an extra shift or the roster changes at short notice (within 28 days). Talk to NZRDA for more information.

What penalty payments can we claim?

If you are rostered for more than 72 hours in any 7-day period, a $550 penalty payment applies. Payments also apply if you do not get an 8-hour break between shifts or have to cover for one of your colleagues (see below).

You cannot be rostered more than 72 hours in any 7-day period or work more than 16 hours in any day, and you are entitled to as a minimum every second weekend completely free from duties – and that includes ward rounds, call backs …..  For more information, refer to the MECA or NZRDA.

What is cross-cover?

When an RMO covers for an absent RMO during normal working hours this is called “cross-cover”. Simple, huh?

Cross-cover is ENTIRELY voluntary. Why? Because covering for a colleague is potentially unsafe. You should only cross-cover if your clinical workload allows it. A penalty payment of $150 per day applies; however, for many doctors this is not enough for the associated medico-legal risk, and they refuse to do it.

As a first year, you should, as a matter of course, refuse cross cover. Whilst the pay may be attractive when set against your student debt, you will already have enough on your plate, and trust us – facing a medico-legal case because you were simply too busy is not worth any amount of money!

Cross-cover is prohibited out of ordinary hours because we already have skeleton staff. You should never cover for an absent person outside 8.00am – 5.30pm Monday through Friday. Call NZRDA if you find yourself in this situation.

Must we do the Saturday morning surgical ward round?

It depends. If it is a rostered shift and you get paid for it, then yes. Remember you must get every second weekend completely free from duties, regardless!

Can I prescribe for my friends, my family, or myself?

“A man who represents himself has a fool for a client.” This adage also applies to doctors who prescribe for themselves. Prescribing for yourself, your family or colleagues is generally against medical council guidelines, except in specific circumstances (which do not apply to hospital doctors).

Remember: you lose objectivity and have no means of keeping an accurate clinical record if you do this. See your own GP (and if you don’t have one – get one!). Always advise your friends and family to see their own GPs.

What do I do when a nurse on my ward wants a script or some of my meal?

Just say no. If this persists, talk to the charge nurse or duty manager, or call NZRDA.

What’s the difference between on-call and on-duty?

On duty is when you are at work. On call is when you are away from work but are able to be called back to work (within 30 – 45 minutes). You cannot be rostered more than a 16 hours under any circumstances, whether on call or on duty. If presented with any roster that says otherwise, email it to NZRDA urgently.

Get in touch with NZRDA

If you have any questions or general enquiries, get in touch with us using the contact details below or the form on this page.

Membership queries: membership@nzrda.org.nz
General & contract queries: ask@nzrda.org.nz

Freephone: 0800 803 993