Points to Consider when Accepting the Job

  • Consider having a lawyer review the contract to explain the details and possible scenarios described within the contract (leaving the job, working for other clinics, remuneration, termination)
  • Be clear on the relationship you will have with the payer (employee vs. contractor)
  • If you are accepting a position as an employee, make yourself aware of the employer’s expectations and your rights as an employee (notice of termination, vacation and sickness pay, remuneration, meal breaks, overtime, maternity leaves, holidays, emergency leaves, severance)
  • If you are accepting work as a contractor, make sure you understand the difference between that and an employee, (link to Employee vs employer) and how to ensure you meet the criteria to be considered a contractor.

i. Be certain to maintain an individual business profile. This includes marketing yourself, having a separate office, providing invoices to the payer, and not attending staff functions.

ii. Contractors must either provide their own tools and workspace or pay the owner for rental and lease of what is provided. This should be a flat, monthly fee separate from your work pay

  • Determine what type of work restrictions/conditions you are comfortable with in the agreement. Many clauses are negotiable and the clinic owner will be (appropriately) negotiating a contract that is in their best interests.
  • Education allowances can only be offered to employees and not contractors. If one is offered to you as a new employee, ask how it may be used, when it must be used by, and how it is applied (does the clinic owner pay for the course or will you be reimbursed?)
  • Employees should be aware of any probationary periods and what benefits they are entitled to during that time or at which point they come into effect.

...What next?

You should get a letter of offer. Read it carefully; is it the same information as you discussed in your interview? If not, do not sign it until you have clarified the information. Always keep a copy of anything that you have signed.

Negotiating your Contract

Research the market in your area for physiotherapists with your qualifications and evaluate their worth to employers (refer to What Should I Expect: A Compensation Summary for details).

Negotiate the essential terms:

  1. Duties: Expect an outline of your central job responsibilities in the contract, incl. hours
  2. Salary and benefits: Compensation can be based on a percentage split, hourly wage, or a per-patient fee. Are bonuses or incentives included in your contract?
  3. Expenses: Will you be reimbursed for technology? Continued education courses? Association dues?
  4. Term and termination: Does your contract specify a time period, during which you can only be terminated with cause? If so, what is cause defined as in this case? Are renewal options outlined?
  5. Review the contract with a lawyer

Money and pay

  • Know how much you are going to be paid before you accept the job. Pay can be per hour, per patient, on salary, union scale (how do you increase your salary?) Are you paid if your clients cancel due to bad weather etc? Does the clinic take a % of your pay? Ask around to see what a normal percentage is.
  • If your employer does not remove income tax, you may end up paying $10,000–$20,000 at the end of the year towards income tax. Consider paying in instalments.

Benefits

  • Are benefits included in your salary or do you get something "in lieu" of benefits? Usually you will receive a percentage for holidays and another for other benefits. You need to figure out if you can get private insurance for the same amount of money. Often, contract employees in private practice do not receive benefits.
  • Medical insurance: What’s covered? Medications, private rooms, dental, physiotherapy etc.
  • Long-term disability: What is covered? How much coverage do you receive and over what period of time? Remember you will only be covered for the length of your employment. If you work at a clinic and a hospital you would need coverage from two different long-term disability plans. Remember: long-term disability is extremely important; it is easy to get hurt as a physiotherapist.
  • Sick leave: Do you have a certain number of days per year?
  • Educational: Does the employer support continuing education? Do you have paid educational leave days per year? Is there an education fund that you can apply to when taking courses, or does the clinic pay for you?
  • Performance appraisal: Usually an employer will insist upon a three-month probationary period followed by a performance appraisal. You need to know what the appraisal is based on, who will conduct the appraisal and how often you will have additional appraisals.
  • Vacation: When can you actually take vacation? As a new graduate you may not be able to get time off when you want it, often vacation allowance is based on seniority. Do you have to "bank" days before you take them? Basic vacation is usually 2-4 weeks per year but you need to check.

People you need in your network

  • Lawyer: To help review clinical contracts etc.
  • Investment /Financial advisor: You will actually be making money, make sure your money is making money for you.
  • Accountant: You might have interesting things happening in your financial life that you need help for. Are you going to be self-employed, or a consultant? This impacts your taxes.