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Victorian Junior Doctors Class Actions

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.

Gordon Legal, together with Hayden Stephens & Associates, have been engaged by the Victorian division of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) and a number of individual junior doctors to pursue claims in the Federal Court of Australia against a number of Victorian Health Services. These claims will allege that those Health Services failed to pay Doctors in Training for the unrostered overtime worked over the previous six years of their employment.

In the first of many class actions launched against Victorian Health Services for unpaid overtime, the Honourable Justice Bromberg found in favour of junior doctors against their employer, Peninsula Health. This is a positive step forward for junior doctors in their campaign to put an end to dangerous working hours. Now is the time to build momentum and register your interest.

It doesn’t cost you anything to register your interest in participating in the class action or to find out whether you might be entitled to make a claim for your overtime.

You can register on a confidential basis with Gordon Legal if you have worked as a Doctor in Training in Victoria at any time since January 2015. Upon registration, we will be happy to provide you with the information you need to assess your rights, confidentially and with no obligation.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible, or are having difficulties in completing the registration form, please contact us at doctors@gordonlegal.com.au or on 1800 21 22 23.

We will not disclose your identity to any third party, including any Health Service in Victoria, government agency, ASMOF or the AMA,  without your permission.

Junior Doctors Class Action

Frequently Asked Questions

What are these claims about?

ASMOF Victoria and a number of individual junior doctors have commenced class action proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia seeking compensation for un-rostered unpaid overtime performed by doctors in training in the course of their employment over the last 6 years.

The basis of the claims is that:

  1. Health services failed to pay unrostered overtime in compliance with the relevant enterprise agreement.
  2. As a result – the health services contravened the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth); and
  3. If these contraventions are proved, compensation should be paid to doctors in training for their unpaid overtime.

The Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) Victoria has also sought orders from the Court that the health services pay penalties for their contraventions, in addition to paying compensation for unrostered unpaid overtime.

ASMOF Victoria and the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have been advocating for health services to address their long-standing concerns about the underpayment of overtime for doctors in training and the serious risks this issue has creates for both doctor and patient well-being

What is a class action or group proceeding?

A group proceeding, also known as a class action, is a court procedure brought by one or more individuals known as representative applicants on their own behalf and on behalf of other people who have similar claims against the same party (the respondent). The individuals in the wider group are known as group members.

Group proceedings are brought to resolve common issues of fact or law for the wider group. It is not necessary that group members have identical claims. In fact, it is to be expected that there will differences between the loss and damage suffered by each individual group member.

In Victoria, there are 38 health services that are each responsible for hospitals which provide medical services within the public hospital system and where doctors in training are generally employed. Each health service is an employer and signatory to enterprise agreements that set out the employment terms and conditions for doctors in training.

Given this structure of employment, it is necessary to commence proceedings against individual health services. As such, several individual proceedings have already been commenced covering 70-80% of the relevant workforce and there will likely be several more class actions commenced against health services which are not currently parties to any proceeding.

In each class action, the representative applicants are ASMOF Victoria, together with a named individual doctor. The respondent in each class action will be an individual health service.

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What class actions have commenced?

Class Actions have so far been commenced against the following health services:

  • Peninsula Health
  • Monash Health
  • Latrobe Regional Hospital
  • Bairnsdale Regional Health Service
  • Western Health
  • Eastern Health
  • The Royal Women’s Hospital
  • Alfred Health
  • St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne) Ltd
  • Northern Health
  • Bendigo Health
  • Melbourne Health
  • Northeast Health Wangaratta
Is there a trial date in the actions that have been commenced?

The initial trial to determine common questions of fact and law in the Peninsula Health Class Action was held in June 2022.

On 11 August 2023, the Honourable Justice Bromberg ruled in favour of junior doctors which has positive ramifications for future cases.

Do I qualify as a group member?

You may be a potential group member if:

  1. you were or are a doctor in training employed by a health service against which a class action has been commenced; and
  2. you worked unpaid unrostered overtime from January 2015.

Example: If you worked unpaid, unrostered overtime for one month in 2016 as an advanced trainee (senior registrar) you are eligible to make a claim, or if you worked unpaid, unrostered overtime for one month as an intern in 2020 you are eligible to make a claim.

Even if you are not sure if you are a potential group member, we strongly recommend that you register your interest if you were or are a doctor in training and believe you have worked unpaid, unrostered overtime during the relevant period.

Once you register with us, we will ask you to complete a more detailed confidential questionnaire. We will then assess your individual circumstances, provide you with further information.

If a case has been commenced against my employer and I am a potential group member, what is expected of me?

If you are a group member in a class action that has been commenced, there is nothing that you need to do to remain a group member.

Importantly, as a group member you do not have any liability for the respondent’s legal costs in the event that the claim is unsuccessful, which we think is unlikely.

It is unlikely that the assessment of group members’ individual claims will take place before the results of the initial trials of common questions of fact and law are determined or there is a settlement.

Historically the majority of civil proceedings, including class actions, settle before a full trial of all the issues.

You may decide to engage us to act for you so that we can assist you in preparing for the assessment of your individual claim and provide you with legal advice about your personal circumstances. While we consider that there may be some advantages to you engaging us, you are not obliged to engage us to act on your behalf.

Are individual circumstances considered in a class action?

Yes. Ultimately the goal of these class actions will be to establish that the health services must compensate doctors in training who have suffered loss as a result of working unrostered unpaid overtime. Each doctor’s loss will need to be assessed on an individual basis.

What if I am not a group member in the actions that have already been commenced?

You will not be entitled to participate in any outcome specific to that class action.

However, class actions against other health services may soon commence and it is important that you still register your interest, if you wish to be kept informed. By doing so, we will be able to provide you with information about your potential claim and do what is necessary to protect your interests.

If the case is unsuccessful, am I subject to legal costs?

No, group members in class actions do not have to pay legal costs in the unlikely event that the class actions are unsuccessful.

 

If the case is successful, am I subject to legal costs?

If the class actions are successful, the Court will first approve legal costs on the basis that they are fair, reasonable and proportionate to the outcome. This means that there are no out-of-pocket legal expenses that group members will need to pay in respect of legal costs.

When will Gordon Legal contact me to formulate my individual claim?

If you choose to register you will be asked to complete a detailed confidential questionnaire about your circumstances. The information you provide will be reviewed by one of our lawyers.

If you need assistance completing the questionnaire or would prefer to discuss any aspect of the matter, a member of our team will be happy to assist you

How long does it take to register?

It’s quick and easy to register. It should take you less than a minute to register your interest using the form on this page.

Can I use my mobile phone to register?

Yes, our registration page is optimised for mobile devices.

Why should I register?

By registering, you will gain access to updates about the case, as well as reminders of important court event dates. Registering is confidential, and obligation free.

Who is Hayden Stephens & Associates?

Gordon Legal, together with Hayden Stephens & Associates, have been engaged by the Victorian division of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) and a number of individual junior doctors to pursue claims in the Federal Court of Australia against a number of Victorian Health Services.

Hayden Stephens and Associates is a leading Australian law firm specializing in class action litigation. With over 20 years of experience, the firm has a proven track record of success in securing compensation for clients who have been wronged by corporations and institutions. The team at Hayden Stephens and Associates is dedicated to providing high-quality legal services and personalized attention to each client. The firm has a reputation for being thorough, tenacious, and effective in pursuing justice on behalf of its clients.

Court documents

Copies of the Court documents in the proceedings that have been issued are available below.