What is a Veterinary Locum

A Veterinary Locum is a fully qualified veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse / vet technician who replaces an absent member of a practice in the same capacity as the absentee held. It is by definition a temporary job until the regular holder of the position is able to return.

Veterinary recruitment agencies offering veterinary jobs may have vet job vacancies available for a trainee veterinary nurse who needs further training but can carry out certain work without supervision, or vet job vacancies only for qualified veterinary surgeons to look after a practice temporarily.

In many cases, a veterinary locum will replace a veterinary surgeon while they are on holiday or are ill, although you might also be holding positions such as veterinary nursing jobs or veterinary technician jobs temporarily until a permanent replacement has been found. That could be a replacement for a member of the practice who has taken ill, retired, moved on or has been dismissed.

So what is a veterinary locum expected to do while on temporary remit? Basically, the same professionally as if you were a permanent member of staff of the practice. Veterinary locum jobs would likely require you to carry out normal procedures, maintain records and basically do what the full time vet did until he or she is able to return to the practice. The veterinary recruitment agency who helps you to find employment as a veterinary locum would likely have explained your duties and the expected length of tenure of the position before you accepted it.

What is a veterinary locum expected to do regarding tax and National Insurance? Most locums are regarded as 'self employed', so are paid without Income Tax or National Insurance deductions. You would therefore be responsible for declaring your own tax returns and making payments yourself for a Self Employed Persons NI contributions.

If you are not sure how to go about that, then contact your local tax office where you will receive the information you need to maintain your contributions and also to keep on the right side of the Tax Inspectorate. That's one group of people you don't want on your back, because once they are there they are very difficult to remove! However, we are more than happy to put you in touch with a chartered accountant to look after your tax affairs for you.

As a self-employed veterinary locum, it would also be your responsibility to be personally insured because you have no employer's insurance scheme to protect you. This will include Professional Indemnity Insurance , such as that offered by the VDS, (Veterinary Defense Society) to protect you against any claims for malpractice or professional errors, or even for unjustified claims for such. You would also be responsible for your own medical costs in the event of an accident in the course of your duties, so you may believe that private medical insurance is appropriate (which it likely would be) and you may also have to upgrade your personal car insurance. At least let your insurer know of your changed employment status.

You should also consider what is a veterinary locum expected to do with respect to the RCVS requirement of Continuous Professional Development. In fact, as a locum, you are expected to do all that is expected of a permanent member of the practice staff: you must attend CPD courses for the required number of hours each year expected of any practicing vet.

For further information on how to become a veterinary locum, or to be put in touch with practices seeking a locum, contact us or go to our Locum Vet registration page.

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