Ripped-off and exhausted: junior doctors take on NSW Health over extensive unpaid overtime

19 December 2020
Leading law firms Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Hayden Stephens & Associates today launched a class action on behalf of early career doctors against NSW Health over exploitative work conditions.

The action is based on a claim for under-payment of wages for junior doctors. It is a claim to seek recovery of payment for the extensive unpaid overtime performed by doctors.

Lawyer Hayden Stephens said the no-win, no-fee class action could involve over 10,000 junior doctors, many of whom say they are worried about patient safety after being pressured to work unpaid overtime to the point of exhaustion.

“The widespread underpayment of junior doctors has occurred for at least six years and most likely longer under the watch of the NSW Department of Health and many of the State’s Local Health Districts,” Mr Stephens said.

“Junior doctors were also being underpaid because of NSW Health rostering and pay system errors.”

“Over half of NSW’s junior doctors have reported being concerned about making a clinical error due to fatigue caused by their working hours. And nearly half of junior doctors have reported being concerned about their personal health or safety due to fatigue caused by their working hours.”

“The unpaid wages we are seeking to recover should have been already budgeted for.  As well as recovering wages, this is an opportunity for junior doctors to pursue best clinical practice without feeling stressed or threatened.”

“This class action is part of a broader call for improvement in the working conditions of junior doctors to allow them to provide optimal care to patients.”

A recent survey of doctors-in-training released this year by the Australian Medical Association (NSW) found:

  • Over half reported being concerned about making a clinical error due to fatigue caused by their hours of work.   
  • 44 per cent felt their personal safety was at risk due to fatigue caused by their working hours.
  • Over 40 per cent said that their workload at their hospital was too heavy.
  • 47 per cent reported working at least 11 hours unpaid overtime a fortnight. Many others reported working in excess of 25 hours per fortnight.
  • In 2020 women training in emergency medicine are only half as likely as men to claim all their un-rostered overtime.

Mr Stephens is available for interview. Please contact the number below.

Media inquiries: Paddy Murphy at Maurice Blackburn T: 03) 8102 2003 / 0490 297 391 E: pmurphy@mauriceblackburn.com.au

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