General practice tool kit

Your practice team

Employment

Last revised: 24 Oct 2019

Equal opportunity and anti-discrimination

It is unlawful for employers to disadvantage employees and job seekers in any way, based on the following attributes:

  • race
  • colour
  • sex or gender
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • physical or mental disability
  • marital status
  • family or carer’s responsibilities
  • pregnancy
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • national extraction or social origin
  • any characteristic further outlined by state or territory legislation
  • being related to anyone with any of the protected attributes.

Exemptions

Exemptions may apply in certain circumstances (eg some exceptions apply to religious organisations), but if you believe you are eligible for an exemption, you must apply to the relevant body in your state or territory.
If you are granted an exemption, you will be required to include specified text in your job advertisement, noting the exemption.

Your recruitment practices must follow the relevant laws in your jurisdiction. The Fair Work Ombudsman provides information and advice about workplace rights and obligations.

Position descriptions

After identifying the roles your practice needs, develop a position description and duty statement for each one, making them specific to your practice and the role.

A good position description and duty statement will:

  • help you determine if a candidate is right for the job
  • help a candidate decide if the job is right for them
  • list major roles and responsibilities
  • identify training and professional development that a candidate or employee must have completed.

In addition, you can use these documents to:

  • establish accountability for completion of specified duties and responsibilities
  • help recognise high performing employees, and manage underperforming employees.

Templates of position descriptions

Templates of position descriptions are available from:

Regular reviews of position descriptions

Schedule time to regularly review and update your position descriptions and duty statements, so that they:

  • accurately reflect the practice’s vision and needs
  • provide your staff with accurate descriptions of their roles
  • can be readily used when positions become vacant.

Each advertisement should include:

  • Information about the job:
    • inherent requirements of a position (eg duties and responsibilities)
    • key selection criteria (eg minimum qualifications and experience)
    • conditions of work (eg hours and days per week, required evening and weekend shifts, rotating rosters)
  • information about applying:
    • how to apply (eg a cover letter and curriculum vitae (CV) addressing key selection criteria, completing an application form, listing contact details of three referees)
    • who to address the application to
    • closing time and date for applications.

Choosing appropriate advertising channels will help to attract the right people. Because most people look for job opportunities online, consider advertising via:

  • RACGP recruitGP
  • recruitment websites
  • Primary Health Network (PHN) websites and newsletters
  • your practice’s website.

Tip

recruitGP is a recruitment service that is free for RACGP members and Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Services who are seeking to recruit GP employees, contractors and locums. Non-members may also use it, but must pay a fee.

Using your network

Recruiting someone you know or someone you hear about through your networks can eliminate or reduce your advertising costs. However, you are never obliged to employ someone who has been recommended to you, as the successful candidate must chosen because of their skills and experience.

Assessing applications

Before you begin to receive applications, decide how you will review them and select a shortlist of candidates to interview. For example, you might decide that you will interview the five candidates who satisfy at least four of the selection criteria.

In addition to assessing applications against the selection criteria, you could also consider the existing skills and knowledge of your current staff and the extent to which each candidate’s skills, education and interests would address gaps or unnecessarily duplicate skills you already have.

For example, it might be useful for your practice to employ people with previous experience working in IT or for organisations such Medicare.

Interviewing candidates

Before interviewing any candidates, write down the questions you want to ask, so you:

  • can accurately assess the candidate’s knowledge, skills and experience, in relation to the requirements of the position
  • ask the same questions in each interview, so your assessment of candidates is fair and consistent
  • do not ask any questions that could breach anti-discrimination laws (eg asking a woman if she is planning to have children soon, or asking someone how old they are or if they belong to a political party).

Checking references

Checking references is a way of using someone’s past performance to predict their future performance.

Most reference checks are done by phone, although you could send referees a written questionnaire. When you contact a referee, explain who you are and why you are calling. Clearly explain which candidate you are enquiring about, and ask if this is a convenient time for them.

Ask each referee pre-set questions about the applicant’s skills and experience in relation to the position’s key responsibilities. Ask each referee the same questions, and record their answers so you can compare candidates objectively and not rely on your memory.

Other checks

Depending on the requirements of the role, you may need to conduct other checks, such as:
  • professional registration (including restrictions)
  • police check
  • working with children check
  • medical indemnity insurance
  • membership of associations or specialist colleges, such as RACGP.

Fair Work provides helpful information about conducting reference checks.

Making an offer of employment

After you have selected the successful candidate, phone them as soon as possible and make a verbal offer of employment. Give them adequate time to consider your offer. For example, it is reasonable for someone to say that they want to talk about it with their family (especially if accepting means moving house or taking a pay cut), and will get back to you the next day.

If they accept in principle, send them a formal written offer of employment (also known as a letter of engagement or employment contract), which outlines the terms of the employment. A template of this letter is available at the FairWork website.

A letter of engagement is a legal contact that both you and your employee must sign, with the understanding that you are both bound by its terms and conditions:

Probation periods

Probation periods can help you to assess if a new employee is a good fit for the practice and the particular role, and also lets the employee decide if the job is right for them.

You are not obliged to have a probation period, but if you do want one, you must include it in your letter of engagement. Probation periods are usually for a few weeks or months.

Key resource

Probation

Notifying unsuccessful applicants

At each point when you eliminate candidates (eg after you make a shortlist, and after the successful candidate has accepted your offer), notify unsuccessful applicants as soon as possible. You can notify them verbally, or in writing, or both.
It is a good idea to have a written explanation as to why each applicant was unsuccessful, so that if they ask why they were unsuccessful, you can provide them with honest and fair feedback.

Always choose your wording carefully (in any written or verbal notification and discussion) so that you cannot be accused of breaching legislation relating to equal opportunity and discrimination.

Induction

Provide each new employee and contractor with a comprehensive induction so that they become familiar with:

  • their role and responsibilities
  • other team members and their roles and responsibilities
  • the practice’s policies and procedures
  • day-to-day operations.

Document what the induction covers and have employees sign this to acknowledge that they were provided this information.

This event attracts CPD points and can be self recorded

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