Duties As Assigned
What The Heck Does “All Duties As Assigned" Mean? The Importance Of Defining Job Duties In An Employment Contract
“It’s the least I can do. If there were anything less, I’d do that.” - Georg Osterman
One of the most important, yet overlooked, parts of a physician employment agreement is the list of job duties. The reason it is often overlooked is primarily due to the general belief that the duty of a physician is to practice medicine. The lack of a job description or the inclusion of a loosely drafted job description can cause problems for the physician as well as the employer. In short, job duties are material terms of a contract that can be enforced by the employer.
When reviewing a proposed employment agreement, a physician may be focused intently on compensation and benefits and not pay attention to the list of “job duties” that could have a significant legal impact on the physician. Likewise, the absence of a list of duties may result in the employed physician being required to spend time engaged in activities that he/she did not consider when accepting employment. A common example is an employment agreement that dictates the number of hours in a day to be worked but does not take into consideration expected call coverage or practice development activities. Another example is “administrative duties” that are often listed but not clearly defined.
Although not an exhaustive list, the following should be clearly understood and defined if contemplated as a job duty:
Where will the services be performed? This is important if the practice has multiple offices or a hospital has multiple clinics. The agreement should state if services will be provided only at one location or if the physician may be required to travel to other locations. This is even more important if the employment agreement includes a non-compete clause.
How much call will the physician be expected to take?
What administrative duties may be required of the physician?
Will the physician be expected to spend additional time promoting the practice and, if so, how much time and what activities will be expected?
Will the physician be required to supervise Advance Practice Providers?
What is the specific area of practice that the physician will be expected to provide services?
What are the minimum and maximum number of hours per day/week expected of the physician for patient encounters and other required activities?
The definition of these duties is as important for the employed physician as it is for the employer. For instance, if the employer wants the physician to travel to another location, the physician may properly refuse if the employment agreement only lists one address at which the physician will be working. On the other hand, if the employment agreement is not specific as to where the physician will be working, the employer could take the position that the physician will be expected to work at any location directed by the employer.
If the physician is expected to enter into collaborative agreements with Advanced Practice Providers, those duties should be set forth in the agreement. If those duties are included, they should specify the number of Advance Practice Providers for whom the physician will be responsible, as many states have laws defining the maximum number allowed. If those duties are not listed, the physician can theoretically refuse to fulfill those duties unless additional compensation is offered. If those duties are set forth in the agreement, but no limitation on how many Advance Practice Providers will be assigned to the physician, the physician will not be able to refuse even if those additional duties create a hardship on the physician.
CAUTION: The balance between clarifying job duties and appearing to be a “team player” is delicate during the contract negotiation process. A physician who wants the job does not want to be perceived as being lazy. A common example of this is “call time.” For some physicians, the amount of “call” required is very important to lifestyle. However, for other physicians it is not an issue because the specialty does not demand arduous call. In the latter situation, there is no reason to strenuously negotiate the details of call in the contract. Your attorney can help decipher these issues with you.
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Articles distributed by Malecki Brooks Law Group, LLC are advertisements and summaries for general information and discussion purposes only. They are not full analyses of the matters presented, legal, or otherwise, and may not be relied upon as legal advice.