As part of the new contract, LNCs (local negotiating committees) are now responsible for arrangements relating to declaring fatigue as a part of on-call working.
We've outlined what LNCs can do as a part of this new negotiating role.
LNCs should take the lead in advocating for what they believe is a practical and fair protocol for the arrangements for this new rule. The contract specifies that the arrangements must be agreed locally, so you do not have to accept an arrangement that is unsatisfactory.
Involving the new local junior doctor forums in this process, if these have been developed locally already, is a good way to ensure the new arrangements have buy-in from the junior doctors who are going to be using them.
Negotiating in different regions
All employers and regions are different, therefore it is not useful to have one centrally prescribed process that is recommended to be used everywhere. This is an opportunity to negotiate the best deal possible in your particular area. Ask local junior doctors what they want and how they want this to work for them, and use this as the basis for your proposal.
Ensure the timeframe for informing the employer is reasonable – employers will understandably want as much notice as possible if a rostered doctor is not going to be able to work.
It is important to ensure the process for informing the employer is simple and easy to use.
Arbitrary notice periods (such as X hours before the shift is due to start) may well not be practical, if the on-call period was immediately prior to the shift due to be worked. If you have a sickness absence notification policy that you are happy with, this may be a useful point of reference.
Make sure the process agreed allows for quick submission and response, for example a written form or notification in person is obviously not going to be not fit for purpose as the doctor must be able to inform the employer from home. Given the likelihood of the short notice being given in this situation a range of options, for example text message, phone call and email, could prove an ideal solution.
Working with junior doctors
Ensure juniors are fully informed of their rights, and resist any attempts to incorporate a ‘request’ or ‘permission’ element to the process. Juniors will be informing their employers they are not able to work if they feel they cannot work safely, not asking for the time off from their shift.