Landmark win for junior doctors in wage theft case
The Federal Court of Australia has ruled in favour of junior doctors in a class action lawsuit against Peninsula Health.
Junior Doctors across Australia are urged to sign up at doctorovertime.com.au and claim their unpaid overtime after a landmark victory in the Federal court today.
In the first ‘wage theft’ case of its kind in Australian legal history, a Federal Court judge ruled that Peninsula Health breached the Fair Work Act when it did not pay class action lead applicant, Dr Gaby Bolton, for work she was authorised to do while working at Frankston Hospital in 2019 and 2020.
It signals a significant victory for junior doctors across Victoria, with 7 other class actions lodged against 12 of Victoria’s largest health services. More actions against other Victorian health services are expected over the coming months.
The victory is a clear turning point for junior doctors in their campaign to put an end to dangerous working hours.
“Payment of our hours will hopefully force hospitals to make a change. This isn’t a safe environment for junior doctors, and it certainly wasn’t a safe environment for the patients we work so hard to care for,” said lead applicant Dr Gaby Bolton.
“I started this case with ASMOF Victoria because my colleagues were overworked and exhausted. I see junior doctors every day who perform medical emergencies and prepare patients for surgery when they are clearly fatigued” Dr Bolton said.
Lawyers Gordon Legal and Hayden Stephens and Associates (HSA) represent the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation of Victoria (ASMOF) and junior doctors in this groundbreaking victory.
“But for brave young doctors like Gaby Bolton and the many colleagues who gave evidence in her case, we would not have been able to achieve this landmark legal victory against wage theft for junior doctors. It is time for the Andrew’s Government to intervene and require its Health Servive CEO’s and the Secretary of the Department of Health, Professor Euan Wallace, to stop ignoring the Government’s commitment to stop wage theft. For too long this problem has been ignored by those in charge in our hospitals and the Department of Health. Now, a Federal Court judge has exposed the problem. It’s time to act” said Andrew Grech, partner at Gordon Legal.
Hayden Stephens, Director at HSA added, “These junior doctors helped us get through the pandemic. They deserve better. Junior doctors are sick and tired of their efforts being taken for granted. It’s time health services recognised that unless things change, our junior medical workfoce will crumble”.
ASMOF Victoria President Dr Roderick McRae is urging doctors to register their support.
“Sign up now and let us hear your stories at doctorsovertime.com.au,” said Dr McRae.
Dr McRae wants the State Governments to use this landmark class action as the basis for change.
“The state government must stop paying millions of dollars in legal costs and end this senseless drain on valuable hospital resources. Our health system is already under stress. Work with us, not against us, to try to resolve this crisis,” Dr McRae urged.
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About the junior doctor class actions
These class actions relate to claims made by junior doctors for systemic and widespread
underpayment of wages by their relevant health services. The doctors are seeking payment
for unrostered overtime and penalties against the health services for breaches of the Fair
Gordon Legal, together with Hayden Stephens & Associates, were engaged by the
Victorian division of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation (ASMOF) and
individual junior doctors to pursue the claims in the Federal Court of Australia.
Full list of proceedings:
• ASMOF & Anor v Peninsula Health (VID115/2021)
• ASMOF & Anor v Monash Health, Latrobe Regional Hospital & Bairnsdale Regional
Health Service (VID210/2021)
• ASMOF & Anor v Western Health (VID419/2021)
• ASMOF & Anor v Eastern Health & Royal Women’s Hospital (VID611/2021)
• ASMOF & Anor v Alfred Health & St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne) Ltd (VID700/2021)
• ASMOF & Anor v Northern Health (VID760/2021)
• ASMOF & Anor v Bendigo Health (VID774/2021)
• ASMOF & Anor v Melbourne Health & Northeast Health Wangaratta (VID715/2022)