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Stop Wage Theft from Junior Doctors

The Campaign

A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. This is an idea that all Australians, regardless of background, political persuasion or profession believe in.

 

But Victoria’s health authorities have been stealing wages from our junior doctors to ensure they don’t get a fair day’s pay. Week in, week out, our junior doctors are working excessive hours, much of it unpaid. This must change.

 

Our doctors understand their work calls for long hours. But the hours are excessive and dangerous. More than 60 per cent of doctors surveyed have reported making a clinical error due to exhaustion. Our doctors are fatigued, overworked, and suffering from stress and mental health problems.

 

In recent years resignations for Victoria’s healthcare workers surged by 20 per cent. If health authorities don’t start to acknowledge the overtime worked by junior doctors, these doctors will continue to leave the profession in their droves and cripple the health system.

There are currently several class actions before the courts aiming to retrieve unpaid overtime for thousands of Victorians doctors - Victoria’s health services are refusing to settle these cases and insisting that doctors go through the stress of legal action.

 

It’s time the Victorian Government walked the walk instead of merely talking the talk. It has regularly criticised organisations and individuals for wage theft but doesn't seem to have a problem with its own Department of Health refusing to pay junior doctors for their extra hours.

 

A media release distributed by the Allan Labor Government in December of last year stated that “the Allan Labor Government led the nation in making wage theft a crime”, yet somehow wage theft continues within the government’s own health system.

 

Victoria’s junior doctors are not asking for a pay rise - they are simply asking to be paid for hours they have already worked. Surely that’s fair.

SUPPORT OUR DOCTORS

 

If we do not support our junior doctors, we will lose them. If we lose junior doctors, this puts even more pressure on the few that will remain.

 

Would you like your children’s health to be in the hands of a junior doctor who has worked dozens of hours of unpaid overtime and hasn’t slept properly for weeks? Do you want your hospital wait times to double because there aren’t enough junior doctors available in regional hospitals? Do you want to see our health system buckling under the pressure we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic?

 

If you answered no to any of the above questions, then tell our leaders that it’s time to stop wage theft from junior doctors!

 

The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, Minister for Health, can direct Victoria’s health services to pay up for unpaid overtime and put an end to court action right now. But she refuses to do so.

 

It is remarkable that the person in charge of Victoria’s health department is willing to compromise the very system she oversees by failing to support our junior doctors.

 

It’s time to let The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas know that this isn’t good enough!

 

If you want to support the junior doctors who support our health system, then please use the below form, or copy and paste the below email and send it to mary-anne.thomas@parliament.vic.gov.au to let the Victorian Government know that the wage theft from junior doctors needs to stop.

We can send it for you:

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To: mary-anne.thomas@parliament.vic.gov.au 

Subject: ATTENTION THE HON. MARY-ANNE THOMAS: STOP STEALING FROM OUR JUNIOR DOCTORS 

 

To The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, 

 

As you’re no doubt aware, Victoria’s health services are currently engaged in several class actions claiming unpaid overtime for junior doctors. 

 

In August last year, the Federal Court handed down a judgement in favour of junior doctors and their right to be paid overtime. 

 

It makes no sense to me that the Department of Health and Victoria’s health services would need to be taken to court just to pay their employees for hours they have worked. 

 

Junior doctors work hard in tough conditions to support our health system. How can the head of the Department of Health not want them to be paid for overtime hours they have done to ensure Victorians get the care they deserve? 

 

I shouldn’t need to tell you that junior doctors are crucial to our health system. We need to support them - not force them to go through the stress of unnecessary legal action. 

 

As a Victorian resident and user of our state’s health system, I’m asking you to stop condoning underpayment and order your department and health services to settle these class actions immediately. 

 

We all want what is best for Victoria and Victoria’s health system and it’s obvious to everyone what the best option is - it’s time for you to step up as a leader and do what’s right. 

 

It’s time to stop wage theft from your junior doctors and you can do that!

 

Kind regards

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Register

IF YOU ARE A DOCTOR, JOIN THE CAUSE

 

With the support of the Australian Medical Association and Australian Salaried Medical Officer’s Federation, junior doctors have commenced court actions against several Victorian health services for unpaid unrostered overtime.

 

You can register your interest on a confidential basis if you have worked as a Doctor in Training in Victoria at any time since January 2015.

 

By registering with the class action:
 

  • You will be supporting our campaign for change.

  • Your details will be kept confidential.

  • You will not incur costs.

  • Your hospital and health service will NOT be told about your registration.  

 

The lawyers acting for ASMOF and junior doctors are Gordon Legal and Hayden Stephens and Associates. They will securely hold your details in order to understand your work and keep you updated.

Register here

Thank you for registering!
We will keep you updated and may need to contact you for further information. 

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are these claims about?
    ASMOF Victoria and a number of individual junior doctors have commenced class action proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia seeking compensation for un-rostered unpaid overtime performed by doctors in training in the course of their employment over the last 6 years. The basis of the claims is that: Health services failed to pay unrostered overtime in compliance with the relevant enterprise agreement. As a result - the health services contravened the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth); and If these contraventions are proved, compensation should be paid to doctors in training for their unpaid overtime. The Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) Victoria has also sought orders from the Court that the health services pay penalties for their contraventions, in addition to paying compensation for unrostered unpaid overtime. ASMOF Victoria and the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have been advocating for health services to address their long-standing concerns about the underpayment of overtime for doctors in training and the serious risks this issue has creates for both doctor and patient well-being.
  • How long does it take to register?
    It's quick and easy to register. It should take you less than a minute to register your interest using the form on this page.
  • Can I use my mobile phone to register?
    Yes, our registration page is optimised for mobile devices.
  • What is a class action or group proceeding?
    A group proceeding, also known as a class action, is a court procedure brought by one or more individuals known as representative applicants on their own behalf and on behalf of other people who have similar claims against the same party (the respondent). The individuals in the wider group are known as group members. Group proceedings are brought to resolve common issues of fact or law for the wider group. It is not necessary that group members have identical claims. In fact, it is to be expected that there will differences between the loss and damage suffered by each individual group member. In Victoria, there are 38 health services that are each responsible for hospitals which provide medical services within the public hospital system and where doctors in training are generally employed. Each health service is an employer and signatory to enterprise agreements that set out the employment terms and conditions for doctors in training. Given this structure of employment, it is necessary to commence proceedings against individual health services. As such, several individual proceedings have already been commenced covering 70-80% of the relevant workforce and there will likely be several more class actions commenced against health services which are not currently parties to any proceeding. In each class action, the representative applicants are ASMOF Victoria, together with a named individual doctor. The respondent in each class action will be an individual health service.
  • What class actions have commenced?
    Class Actions have so far been commenced against the following health services: Peninsula Health Monash Health Latrobe Regional Hospital Bairnsdale Regional Health Service Western Health Eastern Health The Royal Women's Hospital Alfred Health St Vincent's Hospital (Melbourne) Ltd Northern Health Bendigo Health Melbourne Health Northeast Health Wangaratta
  • Is there a trial date in the actions that have been commenced?
    The initial trial to determine common questions of fact and law in the Peninsula Health Class Action was held in June 2022. On 11 August 2023, the Honourable Justice Bromberg ruled in favour of junior doctors which has positive ramifications for future cases.
  • Do I qualify as a group member?
    You may be a potential group member if: you were or are a doctor in training employed by a health service against which a class action has been commenced; and you worked unpaid unrostered overtime from January 2015. Example: If you worked unpaid, unrostered overtime for one month in 2016 as an advanced trainee (senior registrar) you are eligible to make a claim, or if you worked unpaid, unrostered overtime for one month as an intern in 2020 you are eligible to make a claim. Even if you are not sure if you are a potential group member, we strongly recommend that you register your interest if you were or are a doctor in training and believe you have worked unpaid, unrostered overtime during the relevant period. Once you register with us, we will ask you to complete a more detailed confidential questionnaire. We will then assess your individual circumstances, provide you with further information.
  • Why should I register?
    By registering, you will gain access to updates about the case, as well as reminders of important court event dates. Registering is confidential, and obligation free.
  • How much does it cost to register?
    Registering is completely free of charge.
  • Are individual circumstances considered in a class action?
    Yes. Ultimately the goal of these class actions will be to establish that the health services must compensate doctors in training who have suffered loss as a result of working unrostered unpaid overtime. Each doctor’s loss will need to be assessed on an individual basis.
  • If a case has been commenced against my employer and I am a potential group member, what is expected of me?
    If you are a group member in a class action that has been commenced, there is nothing that you need to do to remain a group member. Importantly, as a group member you do not have any liability for the respondent’s legal costs in the event that the claim is unsuccessful, which we think is unlikely. It is unlikely that the assessment of group members' individual claims will take place before the results of the initial trials of common questions of fact and law are determined or there is a settlement. Historically the majority of civil proceedings, including class actions, settle before a full trial of all the issues. You may decide to engage us to act for you so that we can assist you in preparing for the assessment of your individual claim and provide you with legal advice about your personal circumstances. While we consider that there may be some advantages to you engaging us, you are not obliged to engage us to act on your behalf.
  • What if I am not a group member in the actions that have already been commenced?
    You will not be entitled to participate in any outcome specific to that class action. However, class actions against other health services may soon commence and it is important that you still register your interest, if you wish to be kept informed. By doing so, we will be able to provide you with information about your potential claim and do what is necessary to protect your interests.
  • If the case is unsuccessful, am I subject to legal costs?
    No, group members in class actions do not have to pay legal costs in the unlikely event that the class actions are unsuccessful.
  • What if I am successful? Will have to pay legal costs?
    If the class actions are successful, the Court will first approve legal costs on the basis that they are fair, reasonable and proportionate to the outcome. This means that there are no out-of-pocket legal expenses that group members will need to pay in respect of legal costs.
  • When will Gordon Legal contact me to formulate my individual claim?
    If you choose to register you will be asked to complete a detailed confidential questionnaire about your circumstances. The information you provide will be reviewed by one of our lawyers. If you need assistance completing the questionnaire or would prefer to discuss any aspect of the matter, a member of our team will be happy to assist you.
  • Who is Hayden Stephens and Associates?
    Hayden Stephens and Associates is a leading Australian law firm specializing in class action litigation. With over 20 years of experience, the firm has a proven track record of success in securing compensation for clients who have been wronged by corporations and institutions. The team at Hayden Stephens and Associates is dedicated to providing high-quality legal services and personalized attention to each client. The firm has a reputation for being thorough, tenacious, and effective in pursuing justice on behalf of its clients.
  • Who is Gordon Legal
    Gordon Legal was founded in Melbourne in 2009 by Peter Gordon. With decades of experience at the forefront of plaintiff law and worker’s compensation in Australia, Peter has an unrivalled record of fighting for justice for working people. He pioneered the ‘no win, no fee’ system with Paul Henderson, is one of Australia’s most prominent class actions lawyers and made history winning landmark cases. Today, Peter continues his legacy at Gordon Legal, battling for everyday people alongside a team of exceptional lawyers.
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