My Top Tips for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians thinking about being a locum in the future

 

Choosing to work as a locum pharmacist can be rewarding however it can be challenging at the same time. I believe that it is important to be aware of the pros and cons of working as a pharmacy locum before you start your position. Here is a list of pros and cons of being a locum pharmacist or locum pharmacy technician that I have come up with:

 

The Pro’s 

  • Locum work gives you more flexibility with work and home life helping to achieve the perfect work/life balance.
  • Locum work can provide you with temporary work until you find permanent work.
  • Higher rates of pay compared to permanent employment.
  • It’s a great way to build your experience and skills working in different work places and build your CV.
  • Where you choose to work is entirely up to you.
  • You only need to give a short notice period when resigning.
  • Ideal for people like myself who are on work/travel visas.
  • You are pretty much self -employed.
  • You can claim expenses against your tax.

 The Con’s 

  • Locum work is never guaranteed. It can be unstable and unpredictable.
  • There may be no work available at the time or it may be very inconsistent.
  • You may have to work during undesirable periods ie evenings, weekends, bank holidays or even Easter and Christmas periods.
  • You don’t accrue entitlements such as sick leave, annual leave or long service leave and may not have access to maternity and pension benefits.
  • There may be payment delays.
  • You may have to attend training sessions in your own time.
  • You may find it difficult to gain support from management and feel like you are treated less importantly than permanent staff.

 

If you do choose to work as a locum pharmacist there are a few tips I have come up with which have worked for me to avoid some of the cons I have mentioned above.

 

  • Be proactive, its great having an locum pharmacist agency looking for work for you but its just as important looking out for positions on your own. 
  • Do your own research. Educate yourself on what is expected in your role as a locum especially with regards to compliance and any work place training and assessment modules. Keep a log of this somewhere. 
  • Have a strong relationship with your locum pharmacist agency. It is important to keep in touch with your recruitment consultant so they can have a better understanding what your looking for in a position, how your doing, if you're experiencing any problems and if needs be can be on the look out for any other work and have you fresh in their mind. 
  • Communicate. It is so important to communicate with your employer regularly.  Touch base with them once a week and if you have a rolling contract find out how long you will be needed at that work place. Circumstances may change in a matter of days and you do not want to be left short of work. If you have some idea as to how long you will be needed then you can be on the hunt finding other work. 
  • Be organized. If your plan is to never be out of work you must be organized. A diary is a must. At least this way you can visually see where you have work and can plan for future work with your agency or employer. 
  • Keep receipts. As you are a self-employed contractor you can claim travel and meal expenses. This increases your take home pay and reduces the tax you pay. It is therefore important to keep these receipts in the event of an audit. 
  • As a locum pharmacist, you don’t have the employment rights of sick leave etc. My advise is plan ahead especially for the unexpected such as illness. 
  • Choose your locum pharmacist agency carefully. There are a lot of dodgy agencies not on frameworks out there. Be suspicious if they have very limited requirements for the position especially in regards to occupational health and safety and reference checks. 
  • Choose an efficient payroll company. There is nothing worse than not being paid for the work you have done or waiting weeks on end for a pay cheque. Choose a reliable company who will process your pay in a timely manner and if there are any problems they can get it resolved straight away. Also on that note, make sure your timesheets are signed by the correct authorized person and sent to your payroll officer and agency by the deadline specified. This will avoid any delayed payments.

Hopefully the above tips help. Happy Locuming!

Daniela Seminara ATO/Pharmacy Support Worker (overseas pharmacist) LinkedIn Profile

 

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