Using a locum tenens in a private practice

29 January 2014

Many medical practitioners in private practice use a locum tenens when they themselves are not available to practice. The locums are often appointed without consideration of the legal consequences or requirements. Legislation distinguishes between an employee and an independent contractor. If the locum is appointed as an employee the doctrine of vicarious liability comes into play which is not the case with an independent contractor. Contracts currently available to appoint a locum give the contracting parties a choice between being appointed as an employee or an independent contractor; this should be changed in that all locums should be appointed as independent contractors especially if the working of the Consumer Protection Act is also taken into consideration. Furthermore, according to the rules of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) the onus to ensure that the locum tenens is registered and fit to practice, rests with the principal.