Should the ease of an agency registration worry you?
In a world of ever-increasing convenience, we’re conditioned to take the quickest option every time. As information technology strives to make our online experiences evermore bite-sized, we inevitably expect a one-sentence, one-click solution to our every need.
But should this expectation also apply to work-related procedures? Should a locum pharmacist or optometrist, for example, choose the agency with the quickest and most convenient agency registration process? It certainly sounds good. Quicker to register – quicker to work, right?…
But whilst a bite-sized registration process might sound enticing, in practice it could well prove a false economy. In this post, we’re going to look at why super-convenience in a locum agency registration should raise the alarm, and why a more thorough process should reassure you.
WHY AN OVERLY SIMPLE LOCUM REGISTRATION PROCESS SHOULD RAISE THE ALARM
One of the key considerations when signing up with an agency as a locum, is the size and quality of the agency’s client-base. This is the attribute that directly equates to available work. A locum agency with a small client-base, or with a client-base of pharmacies that don’t perhaps pay the most competitive rates, is unlikely to be a great source of work. This raises an interesting question…
How does a locum agency build a large client-base of the best pharmacies?
In order to answer this question, we need to look at the issue not from the locum agency’s viewpoint, but from the client’s. What would influence a client’s decision to use a particular locum agency? Would a client, for example, be more likely to use a locum agency that takes all necessary steps to comply with the law and provide a high standard of locum? Or would the client more likely opt to work with a locum agency that cuts corners on recruitment?
Viewed from the client’s angle, the answer is obvious. The client does not need to take risks. So why would they?
If you don’t believe they would, then you already have a picture of the equation… Locum agencies that are thorough with compliance in their registration processes are going to attract more clients. That means more work. More choice of work.
But it’s not just clients who should be reassured by thorough registration processes. And the likely size of the client-base is not the only concern for locums…
THE LEGAL POSITION
The law is clear for agencies supplying healthcare professionals to clients. Of course, all agency workers need to provide identification and prove their eligibility for work. But before supplying staff whose work deals with people in need of care or attention, an employment agency must also obtain copies of the staff member’s qualifying documentation. So it’s not a pedantic insistence when an agency asks for pictorial evidence of professional accreditations. It’s a legal requirement.
Similarly, in healthcare circumstances, an employment agency must obtain two appropriate references. The law states that the agency must take reasonable steps to ensure that an applicant is suitable for the position, and the referencing is part of that process. But once again, the two-reference stipulation is not down to the agency’s interpretation. It’s very specifically written into the regulations.
All of the above is ingrained into the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. Needless to say, the document doesn’t make for the most exciting reading, but it’s the place to go if you need verification of the legal position.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE LOCUM
So if, as a healthcare professional, you encounter an application process that doesn’t insist on seeing proof of qualifications, and/or doesn’t request two references, the agency you’re dealing with is not complying with the law.
The implications of this are as significant for the locum as they are for the client. If you’re locuming through an agency that doesn’t comply with the law on one issue, is that agency going to comply with the law on other issues? There’s a widely-circulated quote on the Internet, which states…
In other words, if you cut corners in one area, you’ll probably cut corners in other areas too. If the phrase is as true as it’s considered to be, then what sort of conclusions could one draw about agencies that don’t comply with the law at the point of registration? Are they going to comply with the law when it comes to protecting and managing a locum’s personal data? Will they care when something goes wrong and it’s their responsibility to sort it out, or will they cut corners there too?
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
A thorough and compliant registration process is in everyone’s interests, but it doesn’t need to be slow. Speeding up a thorough and compliant application process gives the locum the best of both worlds.
At Team Locum, we see two potential bottlenecks in the registration process – both of which can be countered with a little planning.
The greatest bottleneck is undeniably the referencing. The referencing process can in fact be completed almost instantly. Team Locum will contact the referees and send out the referencing forms shortly after the locum’s application is received. Sometimes the references are returned straight away, by electronic means. But sometimes there’s a long wait. Team Locum will chase up the references, but the referees are often very busy people, and some are initially unaware that they’ve been selected as referees by the locum. Some will choose to reference by post rather than electronically, which inevitably prolongs the process – but the real core of serious delays is lack of motivation or information on the referees’ part.
The right choice of referees, and some prior communication from the locum, is likely to speed up the referencing process enormously. If the referees are in touch with the locum, and are aware that she/he is depending on them for a quick response, they’ll be much better motivated to provide their references without delay. They’ll also be prepared, and expecting contact from the agency. On the other hand, if the referees barely even remember the locum, the process can be heavily prolonged – perhaps even shelved if all attempts to obtain references reach a dead end.
Here are three actions which, in our experience, are likely to help the referencing process conclude in minumum time…
- Think hard about who could serve as your referees, and aim to select referees who have recent knowledge of your work. You can choose from anyone who’s qualified to provide a reference and is not related to you. Check with us first if you’re unsure who’s appropriate.
- Ideally, pick referees with easy contact options. Providing poor or inaccurate contact details won’t cause Team Locum to waive the referencing process – it’ll just slow the process down and possibly mean the registration never completes at all.
- Contact both referees and ask if they can help you get to work quickly by returning their references as soon as they possibly can.
The other common stumbling block we witness within the registration process, is the upload of accreditations document images to the website. In a few cases there may be unexpected incompatibilities with a file format, but by and large, uploading is no more complicated than adding images to a social media or photo sharing site. Some locums already have electronic scans of their documents, but if that’s not the case, clearly readable smartphone images are also perfectly acceptable.
We’d encourage any locum who’s encountered a problem uploading documents, to get in touch, either by phone on 0121 451 2707, or by email at [email protected]. We want to make the application and referencing process as easy as possible, but we need to comply with the law, and we know, ultimately, that keeping our registration process thorough and compliant means we can offer more work.
Oh yes, almost forgot… Here’s the Team Locum sign-up link for anyone who wants to make the process that little bit quicker still…