Medical or Dentist Locum Agreement

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Section 9 of the Ethical Rules of Conduct for Practitioners registered under the Health Professions Act, 1974 determines that a locum cannot be appointed for a period exceeding six months, that the locum should be registered as a health practitioner with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the contract of appointment should be in writing.

If a member of the HPCSA would like to see such a contract of appointment, it should be available.

Attorney approved Practical points considered

Example uses of this document: Many medical practitioners in private practise use a locum tenens when they themselves are not available.The locums are often appointed without consideration of the legal consequences or requirements. Legislation distinguishes between an employee and an independent contractor. Preferably 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.

  • When a medical practitioner or dentist in private practice is not available to practice due to a leave of absence, illness, vacation or other reason, and wants to use a locum tenens.

Agreement contents

It is up to the medical practitioner (principal) and the locum to determine the contents of the contract of employment. It is important to specify whether the locum will act as employee or independent contractor, because the law attaches different consequences to either appointment. If a locum is appointed as an employee, labour legislation will be applicable to the contract of employment, which will not be the case where an independent contractor is involved. 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.


This document was written for by a Senior Attorney (Admitted in the High Court) with more than 18 years’ experience. It complies with current South African law.

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