Things you should know before becoming a locum

 

Things you should know before becoming a locum (3)

 

Are you a newly qualified Optometrist? Maybe you’re a full time Pharmacist looking for a change? Whatever your situation or profession within the healthcare industry it’s likely that you’ve considered becoming a locum. The locum lifestyle is very appealing, from choosing your own working hours, to taking your pick of shifts across the UK, there are a lot of benefits. But what should you know before becoming a locum?


You might not have to quit your day job – Don’t chuck in your regular employment just yet. Many locums are actually employed full time but pick up locum work on the side as it can be a great way for them to top up their salaries. It’s a good idea to double check your contract as some employers are meanies and won’t allow you to do this.


You will need to be organised – You’ll need to be your own personal assistant, accountant, and more. Of course you can hire people to help you out with the boring bits but you’ll still need to stay on top of things. Check your calendar regularly to ensure you always know when your next shift is and keep track of the work you’ve been paid for. It also likely that you’ll be working in multiple locations so we always recommend planning your route to work well ahead of time. Arriving for shifts early will earn you brownie points in the store which improves your chances of being requested by them again in the future.


Finding work – As a locum you can chose to work directly with a company or through an agency. Some companies will only book locums through agencies however so it might be worth registering with one anyway. As I’m sure you know Team Locum are the best in the business so I’ll just leave our sign up link here…


Not all agencies are free – Some agencies actually charge the locum or take a cut from their wages to cover costs. We don’t believe this is fair or even necessary which is why we don’t do it. All of our fees are paid by our clients so everything a locum earns through ourselves is their own. Make sure you understand any fees involved before accepting shifts.


Locum work gives you flexibility – As a locum you can chose your own working days and hours. You also have the option to pick up local shifts, or work further afield if you prefer, the choice really is yours. It’s worth noting that to give yourself the best chance of securing work you will need to be flexible too. For more top tips on securing locum work click here.


You will probably need to register as self-employed – Most locums will have to register as self-employed. This means that you’ll be responsible for keeping on top of your accounts and pay your own national insurance and tax contributions. You will need to register as self-employed within 3 months of starting locum work or you could find yourself with a rather large fine to pay. This might sound daunting but as long as you’re reasonably organised you’ll find the transition into locum life pretty easy.

As a self-employed locum you will also be responsible for filling in a self-assessment tax return each year. If numbers just aren’t your thing you can use an accountant to do all the boring bits for you.

Unlike employed workers, anyone registered as self-employed will not benefit from basic employment rights such as paid holidays, statutory sick pay, and paid maternity leave. It’s always worth having a rainy day fund for if you happen to fall ill.

You should also consider how becoming self-employed could affect your pension. Self-employed workers are usually entitled to a basic state pension once they retire as long as they have paid enough national insurance contributions. Sometimes Locums find they are slightly short as their wages can vary month to month. You may be able to pay voluntary contributions which could bump up your state pension, or you could look at paying into a private pension to make sure your future self is well looked after.


Unlock your Smartcard – As a locum pharmacist you will need to have your smartcard unlocked so that it can be used in any pharmacy. To do this you will need to contact your local Registration Authority and ask for your smartcard to be registered with the locum code which is FFFFF.


You will need certain accreditation’s – You will be expected to have certain accreditations such as GPHC/ GOC membership. You will also need to apply for an enhanced DBS check so any employers or agencies can assess your suitability.

As a Locum Pharmacist you will also need to prove you have an MUR certificate and keep up to date with CPPE qualifications. Extra accreditations such as NMS are also beneficial.


Indemnity Insurance – You will need to purchase suitable indemnity insurance to ensure you are protected if you happen to make a mistake on the job. You won’t actually be able to register as a full member with the GOC or GPHC without insurance so make sure you’re covered.


To start the registration process with Team Locum (the people’s favourite agency) we ask for a few initial documents.

If you’re a Pharmacist you’ll need the following:
• Passport
• Indemnity Insurance
• MUR
• DBS
• National Insurance Number
• Proof of your GPHC Registration

If you’re an Optometrist you’ll need the following:
• Passport
• Indemnity Insurance
• National Insurance Number
• Proof of your GOC Registration
• Proof you’re on the National Performers list

As long as you have these documents to hand registering with us is a piece of cake. If you’re missing any of the documents or waiting to receive them give us a call to discuss your options.


Whilst you’ll be doing a little bit of extra admin work as a locum, most find that the benefits are well worth it. A good locum agency will always be there to support you and answer any questions you might have, so with that in mind, when can you start?

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