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Why should Locums have their own SOPs?

Why Locums Should Have Their Own SOPs.

Below is a letter written by a pharmacist, who is also a tax commissioner, which appeared in the PJ. He felt that the decision that had been reached by his fellow commissioners could have a serious impact on the way Locum pharmacists would be treated by the Inland Revenue in future if they signed a contractor's SOPs as requested by the PCTs during their contract monitoring visits.

Locum pharmacy - SOPs and employment status - Letter From Mr B. P. Threlfall, MRPharmS


I recently attended a training day for General Commissioners of Income Tax, of which I am one. This included the now seemingly obligatory workshop and role-play sessions. One of these exercises, based on actual appeals by HM Revenue and Customs, questioned the employment status, and particularly self-employment status, of gravediggers, pallbearers and organists used by and paid by a funeral director. Having swiftly despatched these individuals to their fates, our group widened its discussions to look at circumstances that might have changed our decisions. Essential to self-employment status is the question of control and the supply of tools and facilities - but mainly the question of control.

For whatever reasons, the discussions centred on the employment status of locum pharmacists and particularly of locums who signed up to their employers’ standard operating procedures. To a man (and woman) our group concluded that, in accepting the content and signing an SOP, a locum pharmacist relinquished much of his or her independence in that pharmacy and, hence, one of the main arguments to self-employment status. We would have found in favour of HMRC that such a locum was not self-employed.

Many SOPs are, almost by definition, similar in content and I am not for one moment suggesting that locums are or should be mavericks in the way that they operate within a pharmacy but that individuals should carefully consider the implications of signing SOPs alongside the implications of not signing them, the latter implications not being restricted solely to employment status.

Brian Threlfall
Ashton with Stodday, Lancashire

The Problem.


If a locum is to be considered self employed by the Inland Revenue he/she should be completely independent from the contractor they work for. Anything which renders him/her in control reduces his/her perceived independence. Things like disciplining or paying staff, cashing up, being a keyholder, all jeopardise the locums’ self employed status. One strong indication of the employer being able to dictate what the locum does, is therefore signing the pharmacy’s SOPs.

This would mean that they would be considered to be employed. If this happens the employer will then become liable to the 12.5% employer’s N.I. and this can be backdated for 6 years. The locum would also be entitled to sick, holiday and maternity pay. On the other side of the coin, the locum will have to pay PAYE and N.I. through the employer’s payroll system and follow all their rules and procedures

So if a proprietor employed a regular locum for 1 day a week @ say £21 per hour the employer’s NI contributions would be on £21 per day, £1092 p.a. and £6552 for the last 6 years. That is over £800.

However you also have the problem that the LAT and possibly the GPhC want the locums to sign your SOPs so how do you overcome this dilemma?

The Answer.


We think we have a solution – make sure the locum has their own set of SOPs. You might think this could be difficult if your staff are following your SOPs and the locum is following theirs, but it is quite simple. When your staff are doing the job they follow your SOP and when the locum is doing the job he follows his own. If the pharmacist’s judgement is required then his/her own SOPs prevail.

We provide a locum set of SOPs on a pen drive so the locum always has them to hand where ever he/she is.

The set consists of 40+ SOPs that will cover most of the jobs that a locum will be expected to perform.

It is sold on a 1Gig pen drive and is tax deductible for the locum. So it will be between 22% and 40%, (depending on their tax bracket), cheaper then this price in real terms.

So if you want to make sure you do not become liable for employer’s NI but that your locum is covered for the LAT requirement that they sign SOPs, just pick up the phone and call us on 0151 653 5525/3115.

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