|Q. What is the average daily rate I can expect to earn?
A. It varies according to the number of appointments per day and days of the week you work. It tends to range between $600 and $700 per day.
|Q. Do I need to register for GST?
A. You must register for GST if you carry out a taxable activity and:
As soon as any of these things apply to you, you must register for GST within 21 days.
For more detailed information we suggest you visit the IRD’s website or talk to your accountant
|Q. Who usually covers travel & accommodation costs?
A. In the majority of cases, this is the client’s responsibility.
|Q. What business structures should I consider?
A. Most locums are self-employed sole traders. However, the answer differs for each individual and we would advise you to seek guidance from your accountant.
|Q. Do I need professional indemnity insurance?
A. Yes, this is mandatory. There are a couple of options, if you are a member of NZAO you can access their preferred rates with Marsh/Lumley Insurance or alternatively, Bizcover offer cover for Allied Health professionals
|Q. Why use a locum agency?
A. We have built strong relationships within the industry which means we tend to hear about placements well in advance, and not only can we help you not only find regular locum roles but the ones that best fit your needs too.
it can be a challenge to have a sustainable career as a locum if you’re doing the search yourself, coordinating the travel, and planning your next assignment so it begins when your current one ends.
OpticsNZ makes sure you have an overview of equipment, appointment duration, and staff support, plus we ensure your travel is arranged.
|Q. Why locum?
A. Flexibility – you’re your own boss!
The flexibility of work is one of the main draws of locum work, which means that you can work when you need work and can fit it around other life commitments. However, with the flexibility comes the uncertainty of work. No work is guaranteed at the times that you may require and this may result in a drop of income when you cannot find work at the times that you require.
The income of a locum is typically much larger than that of an employed worker. This is also an attractive component of working as a locum and it is why many optometrists consider it. Bear in mind that the money you receive from your work has not had any deductibles removed from it, so you will need to set aside an amount for tax, ACC contributions, student loan fees, professional body fees and other deductibles. The tax bill is often a large one and can come as a financial shock when it comes to paying it each year. As an employed worker, you have the tax deducted as you earn and your employer is responsible for calculating the correct deductions.
As a locum (or any other self-employed worker), you do not have any employee rights. This means that you are not entitled to sick pay, holiday, maternity pay or any other rights that an employee may have. If you are ill or wish to take a holiday, you will not receive any income and can harm your cash flow. It is therefore advisable to take out relevant insurance to ensure you are financially covered should an accident put you out of work. It is also worth making sure you take out your own pension as you do not have an employer to contribute for you.
Continuing Education and Training
As optometrists, we are all responsible for our own professional development and making sure we reach the correct number of appropriate CPD points to meet the ODOB requirements. Many employers offer training events and conferences for their employees and this offer may not extend to locums.
Many practices expect the most work out of their locums to justify the locum fee. This means that on some days you may have a full clinic, whereas the other resident optometrists in the practice may have a much quieter diary. Testing times may be reduced for locums and your first appointments in a new location may be hampered by having to provide an eye examination whilst figuring out the patient management system, the record cards as well as knowing how to operate the new sight chart and slit lamp. This may be challenging for newly qualified optometrists who should be focusing their efforts on practising safely.
Working in a different practice and in a different area, each day can bring reams of experience. Working in various places very beneficial as you will see a range of different records, a variety of working techniques and use many types of equipment. On the flip side, locums are often limited to performing standard eye examinations that can lessen their experience with contact lenses and other local optometric schemes.
Locums are often a transient member of the team which can lead to a lonely work existence. Working as an employed member of staff is a more sociable experience.
As in any team-based workplace, some teams can be a joy to work with and others much less so. If you struggle to fit into a team then as a locum you know that the time you will be working with them is temporary and you do not have to organise more workdays with them.
Locum work draws the biggest risk when comparing working modalities. With transient encounters with patients that may require follow up, it can be difficult to ensure that the patient gets the best follow up care and if this doesn’t occur, then complaints may follow. For newly qualified optometrists, we would suggest that an employed role is the best one to start with as an employer will take care of the extra duties that you must cover yourself if you become self-employed, leaving you the time and energy to focus on becoming the best optometrist you can be.
Whether you’re looking for locum assignments yourself or with OpticsNZ, make sure you ask lots of questions to get a clear idea of what’s involved with the assignment, Other key questions to ask include the appointment schedule, hours, will you be supervising new graduates, and who is doing the dispensing and supplementary tests?
Veteran locums also say that it helps to be organised. Digitally scan your Annual Practising Certificate, Professional Indemnity insurance details and other materials so you have them on hand. When someone wants a copy of your practising license or CV you can send an e-mail from your phone. You might get the job before someone else because you replied quickly.