Even prior to the pandemic, workload and workforce pressures caused many junior doctors in Northern Ireland to miss breaks and work beyond rostered hours.
Rota monitoring is there to ensure rotas are compliant with the junior doctor contract. However, many trainees are unaware of the process and how important it to address unsafe and unhealthy working practices in their health trusts.
So, what is rota monitoring and why should every junior doctor take part in it?
What is monitoring?
Monitoring is used by your employer to capture the actual hours you work and whether you have been able to take all the breaks or rest you are entitled to for the rota you are on. This information is then used to decide the appropriate pay-banding supplement for the rota.
What happens when you are monitored?
You are usually monitored over a set, two-week period during which you must detail what hours you have worked and when. This two-week period usually takes place in the spring (March/April) or Autumn (September/October).
However, you can request a monitoring exercise to take place at any time of year. Use this as an opportunity to provide the employer with as much information as you can in relation to your working environment. If you have any particular concerns, make them clear.
Keep copies of this information in case you want to query or appeal the results of the monitoring exercise. For a monitoring round to be valid at least 75% of the doctors on the rota must submit the timesheets and the timesheets must cover at least 75% of all duties worked over the monitoring period.
Is it mandatory?
Yes. It is a contractual requirement of your job so you MUST participate in a monitoring exercise even if you are on annual leave or study leave. Also, if you’ve been off sick and return before the monitoring exercise is completed you should also put in returns.
When do I find out the results of a monitoring exercise?
Monitoring results should be released within 15 working days of the end of the exercise.
What if I disagree with the results?
You are entitled to request re-monitoring or appeal the rota banding decision. Likewise, your employer can request a period of re-monitoring if they do not agree with the result.
If you have any issues with the results of your monitoring process, contact your employer’s HR department in the first instance.
What if I’m still having problems with my rota?
If problems still persist, contact BMA Northern Ireland for support
You should not wait for monitoring to flag up any concerns in relation to your working arrangements. You should raise these at the earliest opportunity with your employer and try to resolve them directly. Remember to keep a note of what you have raised, who with, when you raised it and any actions agreed.