Do you know what your obligations and rights are when it comes to outside practice?


ASMOF industrial staff often receive enquiries from members seeking to know about their rights and obligations when undertaking outside practice other than with their employer.

Here is one common example:

q. I am a Senior Staff Specialist at John Hunter Hospital (1.0FTE). I’ve just been offered an exciting new appointment as a VMO in a hospital in Sydney for one day on the weekend. I would like to accept the appointment. Do I need to tell my current employer?  


It is natural to be keen to sign off on the new contract, however, it is important to slow down and make sure you comply with your requirements under the Staff Specialist (State) Award (the Award) before doing so.

As a Staff Specialist employed by NSW Health, your terms and conditions of employment are governed by the Award. Under clauses 4 and 5 of the Award, a Staff Specialist is required to work 40 hours per week. Outside Practice Agreements are governed by clause 15 of the Award.

To perform outside practice a full-time Staff Specialist must seek their primary employer’s approval to engage in medical practice, paid employment or other business activities otherwise than with the employer.

Any such approval must be in writing, may be time limited, and must not conflict with the Staff Specialist’s commitments to NSW Health or obligations under the Code of Conduct.

Details of the proposed outside practice commitments, including the location, employer (if any), working times, duration of work, and any on-call commitments must be included in the request for approval.

What if you hold an existing agreement for outside practice?

It is important to ensure that the agreement is in writing and clearly sets out the details required by clause 15(c).

Check the time period of the existing agreement. If there is a time limit on the agreement, make sure you enter into a new agreement before it expires.

What are your obligations if you are a part-time Staff Specialist?

Staff Specialists employed on a part-time basis need to notify their employer of any outside practice.

However, unlike full-time Staff Specialists, part-time Staff Specialists do not need their employer’s approval. Part-time Staff Specialist need to adjust their hours to ensure there is no conflict with their primary part-time employment.

Where the Employer has identified a conflict of interest, or a significant risk of a conflict of interest or conflict with the employer’s duty of care arising, and the staff member refuses to cease, or to make necessary adjustments to, his or her outside practice, the Employer may take action to resolve the conflict consistent with any applicable Ministry policies and the Code of Conduct.

What you can do if your employer rejects your request for outside practice?

If your employer refuses your application, we suggest that you seek written reasons for the refusal and contact ASMOF for further assistance.

What else do you need to be aware of?

It may sound obvious, but it is important to ensure that if you are undertaking any outside practice that you do not use any of the Employer’s staff or property for activities associated with any outside practice they may undertake. This could be not using any administrative staff to book appointments or using fax or emails to undertake outside practice work.

*For our St Vincent's Hospital (SVH) members, the same terms of the Award are mirrored in the SVH Enterprise Agreement. For members outside of NSW Health and SVH, please contact ASMOF directly to find out the terms of your enterprise agreement/contract.