Since the NTCER Agreement first came into effect in September 2016 we have received a number of queries during our webinars, through phone calls from members and consultations with Regional Training Organisations and, more recently, the GP Training Colleges.
With the recently negotiated changes to the NTCER, it is more important than ever that you have up to date and accurate answers to your questions. We have developed these Frequently Asked Questions that reflect the NTCER from Semester 1, 2023 onwards.
If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 03 9607 8590 during business hours for assistance.
The revised NTCER can be viewed and downloaded here.
Please bookmark this page to easily access these FAQs as we add to them throughout the year.
One of the conditions of the NTCER is the exchange of a contract prior to the registrar commencing. This is extremely important as it provides certainty to both parties. The contract you issue should include everything that has been agreed upon prior to the commencement of the placement. It is the foundation of your relationship, providing clarity of entitlements, expectations, and responsibilities.
In order to provide practices with a template to customise for use through recruitment of registrars prior to the negotiation of the revised NTCER, we created this 2023.1 template: Interim-Employment-Contract-Template-2023.docx
When using this interim template for 2023.1, we asked that you advise your registrar that an Addendum would need to be added to the contract to clarify any terms revised during the NTCER review. This Addendum ensures that the employment contract remains valid after implementation of the changes agreed in the NTCER review. Please download, talk through and jointly sign with your registrar as soon as possible.
The most recent changes to the NTCER includes changes to:
This depends on your normal business pay cycle, however the base rate of pay must be paid no less frequently than fortnightly.
The NTCER states that the comparison of base rate of pay to % of fees should occur at least once every 13 weeks. There is no restriction on this occurring more frequently than 13 weeks, leaving it open to negotiation between the training practice and the registrar.
For registrars, most of whom earn substantially more than the base rate of pay, increasing the frequency of billing from the minimum 13-weekly cycles provides smoother cash flow such that they are not waiting 13 weeks for their pay to be adjusted.
Shorter periods between billing calculations and payment result in a smoothing of PAYG tax withholding. Australia’s most commonly-used payroll systems are unable to retrospectively adjust income tax, treating large lump sum payments applied to one or more previous pay periods as bonuses taxed at a higher rate (noting that this is however adjusted at the time of income tax assessment: the registrar does not pay more tax overall).
Some practices see the 13-weekly cycle as an administrative burden as it requires the calculation of registrar billings on a different cycle to the other GPs in the practice. When deciding whether to bring the registrar’s billing cycle in line with that of those GPs whose income is not underpinned by a base salary and accrued entitlements, the practice needs to take into consideration the impact any increased frequency will have on fluctuations in the registrar’s billing. Fluctuations may occur through public holidays, patient demand, or any form of leave including those relating to the registrar’s training commitments. Longer periods between calculations create a ‘smoothing effect’ to allow for such fluctuations.
The relationship between employer and employee should never be considered in terms of win/lose. For practices and registrars this is especially the case: win/win must be the only goal when we are all part of the same team focused on delivering the very best patient-centred care.
Performing the % calculation more frequently may cost the training practice more in absolute $ terms, however there are advantages to the practice also.
Cash flow is smoothed – the more frequent the interval, the less the size of any additional payment. This can be significant if practices don’t budget accordingly and have a high billing registrar. Finding an additional ‘lump’ of money every 13 weeks can be difficult.
Many practices perform similar calculations for independent GP’s on a more frequent interval. Performing all similar tasks at the same time may result in efficient use of Admin staff and resources.
There is no other payroll related task that we are aware of that ties into the AGPT training semester timetable. A ‘once off’ task is more easily overlooked than something that occurs more regularly.
Negotiating calculations at a more frequent interval may form part of the competitive process during the Practice Match. registrars are valued and integral members of the Primary Health team. training practices should recognise that financial considerations should not form the basis of the relationship with the registrar.
HOWEVER, practices should not be pressured into offering financial terms that are unsustainable. registrars should understand that every business is different and that the training experience they are being offered at a practice may be more valuable than increased financial outcomes offered elsewhere.
As with the frequency of calculation cycles, registrars and training practices may enter into negotiations that result in higher wages than those stipulated in the NTCER. Once again, business sustainability and the quality of training provided are more important for both parties than financial considerations.
Yes. All College- and AGPT-mandated educational release that occurs during normal hours on a weekday is paid at the base rate of pay. There is no payment for mandatory attendance of education that occurs on weekends or after hours.
The NTCER requires that registrars (both full-time and part-time) who attend educational release on a weekday that they are not usually rostered must be provided with a day off in lieu on either the day immediately before or immediately after the release day. This is for the purposes of fatigue management and therefore cannot be accrued for use at another time.
There is no provision for study leave in the NTCER. Any request for study leave should be negotiated between the registrar and the training practice. The registrar should be aware that taking study leave may impact their completion of training and should be discussed with the relevant College.
As employees, registrars are entitled to the same paid leave as other employees under the National Employment Standards (‘NES’). This is:
Due to the need to change employers throughout the training program, registrars are able to access leave entitlements prior to it accruing. This means that registrars can apply for and take paid leave as soon as they start their placement (subject to approval by the training practice).
If a registrar has taken unaccrued leave and they terminate their employment, the employer is entitled to withhold an amount equivalent to those hours taken in advance from the final pay. There is no provision to require the registrar to repay leave that has been taken in advance if employment is terminated (by either party).
The practice may refuse requested leave, as long as it is not unreasonable to do so. Training practices must keep in mind the needs of the organisation and other staff and therefore there may be times that it would be detrimental to allow the registrar leave.
Yes. Registrar leave entitlements are covered by the NES. You should refer to the NES for the full details regarding all leave entitlements including those that may not be specifically covered in the NTCER.
No. The revised NTCER Agreement acknowledges that restraint of trade clauses can have adverse impacts on a registrar’s ability to secure appropriate future employment (especially in smaller geographic regions). As these have also proven difficult to enforce, the have been removed from the NTCER.
Yes. A non-solicitation clause has replaced the restraint of trade clause in the revised NTCER, prohibiting registrars from recruiting either practice staff or patients after leaving their current practice.
Administration (admin) time is intended to provide a registrar with sufficient time to consolidate learning and keep up to date with record keeping, reviewing results and follow up. It also provides an opportunity for developing time management skills whilst minimising the impact on patients and practice staff.
It is widely acknowledged that general practice is becoming more complex. It is also unusual to find fellowed GP’s working a 38 hour week. Increasing and strengthening the requirement to allocate admin time into a registrar’s appointment profile reflects the profession’s commitment to reducing the risks that are present when fatigue sets in.
No. Admin time is not time off and therefore cannot be utilised in this way. It has a specific purpose which is not met if taken as a form of leave.
Payroll tax is a state-based tax which varies between jurisdictions. As GP registrars on the AGPT program are practice employees under the NTCER, their wages are typically included in the calculation of payroll tax for the practice. Practices should speak with their accountant or lawyer to determine their individual payroll tax obligations.
A full-time registrar works 38 hours per week, averaged over a 4-week period.
A part-time registrar works less than 38 hours per week, averaged over a 4-week period.
Date reviewed: 12 February 2023