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SU doctors for the first time in disputes over the right to overtime compensation

SU doctors for the first time in disputes over the right to overtime compensation

Anders Werner, clinical microbiologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Photo: private

Shortly after Anders Werner became a clinical microbiologist at the beginning of the year, Sahlgrenska University Hospital presented a new employment contract which stated that he would not be entitled to compensation for overtime. He adds that Anders Werner asked counter questions, but did not get clear answers.

– What I objected to was that they didn’t want to limit how much extra work could be included in the job. No one wanted to say whether I was expected to work two hours or 40 hours of overtime per month.

He refused to sign the contract and turned instead to the Medical Association of Västra Götaland, which had long campaigned for all doctors to have the right to compensation for work time. Now the association is following up on his case and that of three other doctors. They all work at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and they all refused to discuss the right to overtime compensation. According to the negotiation petitions, the region is accused of violating the “general provisions” and the doctors’ collective agreement. The union believes that the right to overtime compensation can only be deviated after an agreement has been reached. In addition, the district is believed to be violating good practice by not offering any form of compensation for lost overtime compensation.

And the union is not satisfied there. Hana Kataoka, head of the association’s SU division, warned that the region could face more conflicts.

Hana Kataoka, President of the Västra Götaland Medical Association at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and member of the Board of Directors of the Association. Photo: Emma Valskog

There could be more, because there are many doctors who have experienced the same thing, she says.

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A review of Lakartedenningen last spring showed significant regional differences in the prevalence of overtime compensation in different groups of physicians. While all doctors (with the exception of some managers) in the regions Jönköping, Jämtland-Härjedalen and Uppsala are entitled to overtime pay, in principle no specialist is paid overtime anywhere else in the country. The shift is often seen when the doctor is a specialist, also in the Västra Götaland region. While 94% of all ST physicians are entitled to overtime compensation in the region, the corresponding figure among specialists is 23%. For years, doctors have expressed frustration with the status quo, and discontent is growing. But maybe something is starting to happen.

– The political situation has changed and we hear that our members think this is a very important issue. With these disputes in place, we hope that the issue will finally be resolved by Västra Götaland granting all doctors the right to compensation for overtime. That’s the only thing that makes sense, says Hana Kataoka.

The Ostergotland Medical Association also expects fresh winds. Chairman Niklas Theuren wrote to Läkartidningen that there was a glimmer of light in the discussion and that you were starting to see more doctors whose contracts were not written off for compensation. The medical association of Orebro County, which last spring considered filing a lawsuit over the issue, has been invited to a discussion with the employer after the Lakartedenningen survey. The region’s policy needs to be reviewed, according to Senior Vice Chairman Josephine Gerdevagh.

Above all, they have to change how you approach when someone gets a new position, and how you bring up this discussion about overtime. Now we have to give the region a chance and see how things turn out. But if it doesn’t change, we may reconsider the dispute, depending on what our members want.

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Legal disputes have also been considered elsewhere. In Västerbotten, the medical association has tried to collect cases by urging its members to communicate if they have the right to cancel overtime compensation. But so far it has been slow.

Cecilia Nordenson, President, Vasterbotten County Medical Association. Photo: Jesper Cederberg

We have received a specific response, but there are two problems. Partly to find individuals willing to litigate, and partly to allow time to do so. We have two months until they get the contract, says Cecilia Nordenson of the Medical Association.

Although she does not have much hope that local disputes will resolve this issue, she hopes that the medical association at the national level will pursue these matters further and deepen the discussion with SKR, Swedish municipalities and regions.

– I am convinced that this is a matter that must be resolved centrally, because the local associations do not have enough power in confronting the regions, she said.

For Anders Werner, dispute negotiations await this fall. So far, he has only attended an initial meeting where the employer explained his position.

– Then I was told that they always do, and that compensation for overtime is built into my specialist salary. But the specialty extension at SU is the same for everyone, although the amount of extra work can vary widely between different majors, so I don’t think that argument holds.

Lakartedeningen has been in contact with the head of negotiation for the Västra Götaland region, Charlotta Sylbrot, who in turn refers employment law lawyer Lena Colander. However, she did not want to make a statement.

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– These are differences between us and the Medical Syndicate, and I believe that this dialogue should take place in the negotiating room and not in the media, says Lina Colander.

Read also:
Many doctors don’t get a dime for overtime
Örebro’s doctors prepared for a legal battle for the right to overtime compensation