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Australian speech pathology students and new graduate speech pathologists: 20 things you should do to get up to speed on your rights and responsibilities in private practice

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Attention: final year Australian speech pathology students and new graduate speech pathologists considering employment options in private practice!

Here are 20 things you should do to get up to speed on your employment rights and responsibilities in your first job as a speech pathologist.

Disclaimer: This post looks at some general employment basics we think you should know about and is not legal advice. Before taking action, seek advice from a lawyer specific to your circumstances.

1. Private Practice

Many (if not most) new graduate speech pathologists in Australia start their professional careers as employees in private practices.

2. No longer an Allied Health Assistant

We know that, while studying, many student speech pathologists work as allied health assistants. This should cease when you graduate. Graduates should be employed as professionals, not assistants – see pages 52-54 of this journal for more detail:

3. Employment Conditions

Get informed about Australian employment laws. Read about employment contracts:

4. National Employment Standards

Read about the National Employment Standards:

5. Health Professionals and Support Services Award

Read your Award – the Health Professionals and Support Services Award (MA000027):

6. Income Tax and Superannuation

Learn some basics about Australian income tax and superannuation:

7. Read your employment contract and ask questions

Always read your draft employment contract carefully and query anything you don’t understand before signing. Seek legal advice when needed. Here’s a list of some things to consider:

8. Types of Employment

Know your type of employment. Are you being employed full-time, part-time, as a casual, or on a fixed term contract?

9. Employee versus Independent Contractor

Understand the basic differences between employment contracts and independent contracting arrangements:

10. Probation Periods

Read about probation periods. Query anything longer than 6 months in your employment contract:

11. Restraint of Trade Clauses

Watch out for restraint of trade clauses in your employment contract that affect your freedom to work for others or for yourself after your current employment ends. Read this:

12. Professional Indemnity Insurance

Get your own professional indemnity insurance. Don’t rely on your employer’s insurance arrangements – there could be gaps, they may forget to pay their premium, or go bust. It’s also required by law in some States, e.g. see section 13 of the NSW Code of Conduct for Non-Registered Health Practitioners:

13. Starting a new job

If you haven’t worked as an employee before – or could do with a refresher – do this free short course about starting a new job:

14. Workplace safety

Learn more about your rights and responsibilities at work. Read about workplace safety:

15. Psychosocial hazards at work

Read about and watch for psychosocial hazards at work:

16. Workplace discrimination

Read about workplace discrimination:

17. Difficult workplace conversations

Be prepared to advocate for your rights at work. Complete this course to get prepared for difficult conversations:

18. Codes of Conduct

Speech pathologists in private practice are self-regulated in Australia. But they are not unregulated. Statutory Codes of Conduct apply in many states, modelled on the NSW Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Professionals:

19. Code of Ethics

Don’t forget your obligations to employers, clients and members of the public under the Code of Ethics 2020!

20. Professional Standards

Finally, the Professional Standards for Speech Pathologists in Australia applies to you as an autonomous professional at all stages of your career:

We hope this information (not legal advice) is useful to you. Welcome to the speech pathology profession and all the best with your first jobs!

This article also appears in a recent issue of Banter Booster, our weekly round up of the best speech pathology ideas and practice tips for busy speech pathologists, providers, speech pathology students, teachers and other interested readers.

Sign up to receive Banter Booster in your inbox each week:

Related articles:

Man wearing glasses and a suit, standing in front of a bay

Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.

Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language

Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.

David Kinnane
Speech-Language Pathologist. Lawyer. Father. Reader. Writer. Speaker.

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