Common Payroll Mistakes

Here at GPSA we are 100% aware of how precious and valuable your time is and we despair seeing practice time and dollars trying to correct payroll errors.

We are all about making your life easier!

We love hearing from practice managers and supervisors who ring us concerned that they are wanting to do the right thing by both the practice and the registrar in getting the payroll for their registrars correct. Not once have we received a call from practices trying to do the wrong thing. In fact, the practice queries we receive indicate that if anything, practices are overpaying their registrars by a considerable margin.

Funnily enough, like most employees, registrars are happy to be overpaid, but as soon as an attempt to correct the error or recoup the overpayments is sought, a once positive relationship can really be turned on its head. This is not to suggest GP registrars want to be overpaid or rort the system either. It simply highlights the importance of getting your calculations correct from the outset and setting out entitlements in the employment agreement very clearly in alignment with the NTCER.

We want to save you some angst, by flagging the most common errors


payrollwe receive calls about. Check them against your own payroll and employment agreement practices and make sure you get off to a good start with your new registrar(s) this term.




Practices paying a full-time base salary also paying an additional education release
STOP! You’re paying twice!


Under the NTCER GPT1 and GPT2 Registrars are required to be released from your practice for education with their Regional Training Organisation.

The registrar is required to be paid at the base rate for this time.

The common error that occurs here is that practices pay their registrar a full-time base salary and then also add the base salary for the education day.

This means the registrar ends up being paid twice for the same day. Once you have paid your registrar for the day/ hours they are on educational release, there is nothing more to pay.

My registrar works 32 hours but is paid full time – STOP!

Wouldn’t we all love to be paid for 38 but only have to turn up for 32 hours a week? It’s just not reality!

The reality is if your registrar is working a 32-hour week – they are part time… you only have to pay them for their work hours (=in the practice and educational release).

(32/38) x 100 = 84.21% or 0.8421 Full-time Equivalent

It appears practices are getting confused by RACGP standards which identify 32 hours as full time.

This relates to training time calculations and has no bearing on what is considered ‘full time’ for payroll purposes.

The NTCER clearly states full time is based on a 38-hour week.

I am paying my registrar a higher percentage to motivate them – STOP!

We recently received a call from a practice manager (PM) who found a new registrar to the practice in GPT2 really wasn’t billing enough to cover their own salary. The PM felt that this was the result of a lower percentage payment.

When you unpack professional behaviours and expectations it is important to remember in the early terms of a GP registrar, it takes time to become efficient and proficient. That said reasonable billing targets can be set as your registrar gains confidence.

If a registrar is not motivated at 44.79% billings, increasing their billings percentage to 60% will not make them any more or less efficient/ proficient or motivated… if it does, you have a professional attitudes issue to address.

I am paying my registrar 60% (or more) billings. They are very good billers – STOP!

If you are paying your registrar above the award you are creating issues for yourself, the practice and the registrar longer term. Yes you may pay vocational registered GPs in your practice 60+% of billings, but most commonly this is done as a contractor arrangement, meaning you then don’t have to pay for:

If you are paying your registrar 60+% and then your practice has to cover an additional 26.38% employment on-costs, meaning your practice retains just 13.62% to cover practice costs.

Paying your registrar in line with the NTCER is not about being mean… It’s being realistic!

*These percentages are demonstrative only and should not be applied to the calculation of your registrar’s payroll.

My registrar negotiated a higher percentage… they still need to be able to live – STOP!

All sorts of tactics come into play when registrars are negotiating their contracts and percentages. Many RTOs and GPRA provide education and resources to registrars on how to negotiate their conditions. Interestingly the same is not true for practice principles or practice managers.

The reality is (for a GPT3 or GPT4) a base salary of $95,295 + the mandated difference between base and billings of 44.79% is an appropriate salary for the stage of training. Many rural GP registrars, because of GPRIPS payments and other incentives can earn over $200,000 p.a.

The point we make here is not made to undervalue a GP registrar’s contribution or worth, but to harden you to ‘claims of woe’ during the negotiation. Your registrar may be wishing to work part time or may be a single income family… the truth is none of those personal choices or circumstances should be part of your decision making in percentage negotiations, just as your registrar will likely not come to you to decide whether their partner should work (or not)… we all make work and life choices.