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What should be included in medical employment contracts

Applicants for employment at a hospital, health system or medical group should do research before negotiating employment contracts for medical professionals. These agreements should contain basic but important terms.

Compensation should be comparable to other health care professionals with similar skills and experience. A base salary may be guaranteed as long as possible without adjustment. For physicians just emerging from training, this period may be one year. Doctors joining a health system may be able to negotiate a longer period of three to five years.

The agreement or written policy should include all things that will affect compensation. These should apply equally to all health professionals in the same positions. It is important to understand how data will be collected and submitted and that the agreement describes benchmarks governing employment expectations.

Benefits are also an important component. These generally include heath insurance, license fees, staff dues, continuing education stipends, malpractice insurance and paid time off. Some employers may also provide a retirement plan, moving expense allowance and educational loan forgiveness.

It is generally preferable for physicians to have occurrence-based malpractice insurance, which covers incidents that happen during the coverage year, regardless of when the claim is filed. Claims-made coverage, which governs claims filed during the coverage year, should also identify whether the employer will pay for any of the coverage when employment ends.

Scheduling expectations are important. Any promises regarding weekend and holiday work should be included. On-call responsibilities should not be more burdensome than other similarly-situated health professionals. Additional calls may include additional compensation.

Regardless of the length of the agreement, it should contain termination provisions, such as the required notice period. It should address whether an employee may be terminated without cause. Agreements allowing termination for cause generally provide a written notice and an opportunity to correct deficiencies within a specific time.

The agreement may also contain restrictive covenants that prohibit an employee from working for competitors. These should specify their length and geographic radius while also complying with Pennsylvania law.

An attorney can help you review these agreements and provide information on your rights. They may help ensure that an employment contract is fair and reasonable and within your interests.

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