The Benefits of Locum Work

The word locum is derived from the Latin term ‘locum tenens’. The English translation of this is ‘place holder’, which perfectly sums up the role of a locum – somebody that temporarily covers the duties of another until they return.

There are no hard figures regarding the number of locums working in the UK, but it’s estimated that around 30% of GPs in the UK are locums, so it’s a significant number.

Locum work might not be the right fit for everyone, but there’s no denying the many benefits it offers.

What Types of Work Do Locums Do?

The main fields of work for locums are as doctors, pharmacists, opticians, surgeons and veterinarians. Being a locum gives you flexibility to work anywhere. So as a locum doctor, you could work in an NHS or private hospital, GP surgery, private practice, clinic or even a university.

Locums can work short or long term contracts. Contracts can last from weeks to years depending on the work you do, where you’re placed and the reason for cover. Usually locums will be filling a role that’s temporarily vacant for reasons such as maternity cover, covering someone that’s on long-term sick or for an employee that’s on a career sabbatical.

Locums could also provide cover for an understaffed hospital during a busy period. This type of cover can often be seasonal. During winter, for example, locums could be needed if there’s a high number of patients to treat due to a flu epidemic or a spate of accidents due to prolonged icy conditions.

Locums played a key role in helping the NHS cope with the increased number of hospital patients due to the coronavirus pandemic, not to mention helping to clear the backlog of appointments that were missed due to cancellation.

Read on for the main benefits of working as a locum.

Higher Pay

Ultimately, the reason why people work is to get paid. One of the main benefits of being a locum is that the pay is usually better than for conventional employment.

Locums set their own rates of pay so in sectors where there’s high demand, and where they have a strong skill set and good experience, they can easily achieve a better rate of pay. Be sure to negotiate firmly for a high amount before signing a new contract.

Despite the pay advantage that locums hold, there are some advantages to being in employment. Employees receive benefits such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity leave which locums don’t have, but the higher locum wages compensate for that.

Greater Control, Freedom and Flexibility

The control locums have over their careers should not be understated. They get to do things their way, from choosing which jobs to do to how many hours to work and the type of work they do.

This flexibility is a key factor for anyone considering locum work. Locums can choose which contracts they take on, the contract duration and the location they work at.

This means you can choose the jobs that are right for you, whether that’s a job close to home to cut down on commuting time, or a role that gives scope for professional development depending on what’s the right fit for you.

You could work a short-term or part time role and use your extra free time for learning and development, or to attend courses and conferences to progress your career. Alternatively you could work a full-time role if you’d prefer the security and increased income that brings. It’s in your hands.

If you’re not sure what path you’d like your career to take, as a locum you could work a variety of roles to explore different areas before choosing which to focus on and pursue as a career.

The healthcare field is a wide-ranging area where there’s always demand for staff. This means locums in this sector won’t have difficulty finding employment. There’s always demand for locums and there are many opportunities both in the NHS and private care.

With this level of control and flexibility, locums are able to achieve a work/life balance that’s right for them, especially if they have the right specialist accountant for locum pharmacists, doctors and opticians or locum vets and veterinary nurses in their corner to reduce the time spent on admin and bookkeeping tasks such as tax returns.

Keep Things Interesting

When you work as a locum, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be bored as the work tends to be extremely varied. You can be doing many different tasks day to day and from contract to contract. You can also work in various locations, so if you’re a person that thrives on challenges and likes variety in the workplace, locum work will be for you.

As a locum you could also work abroad which would enable you to experience working environments in different countries and work with a range of people from different cultures.

But this isn’t for everyone. If you prefer more consistency in the workplace and would rather do similar work each day, as a locum you still can as you choose what you do, where you work and who you work with.

If you’re an employee that’s dissatisfied with your job, or if you feel like your career is stagnating, switching to locum work could be just the tonic you need to regain your enthusiasm and motivation for your career and profession.

It’s important that you love your work and are happy in your professional life as you spend a lot of hours working!

Gain Experience and Advance Your Career

The varied nature of being a locum means you’ll be working in different environments and facing many different situations and challenges. This is especially the case if you work a lot of contracts over time. Doing this will enable you to build up plenty of experience which will open up new opportunities and enable you to earn more money.

With more experience comes more confidence. As you overcome challenges and develop your skills and knowledge, you’ll become more self-confident in your abilities – confidence that helps you progress into bigger and better roles.

Even if you only intend to work as a locum for a few years, this still has significant career benefits. You can build up a lot of experience and knowledge in a relatively short period of time. This can open doors to new opportunities in the future sooner than if you were employed, not to mention increased pay.

You’ll also meet more people through locum work which is very helpful from a contacts and networking perspective. This can be useful when you’re looking for a new job.

Working with a wide variety of colleagues can also be beneficial from a learning and development perspective as you can learn a lot from your peers. In the medical field, it’s vital to keep abreast of the latest advancements in treatments and procedures and your colleagues can be a great help in that respect.

Sole Trader or Limited Company?

If you’re new to locum work, the chances are that you’ll initially work as a sole trader. This allows you to test the waters if you’re not sure locum work is right for you long term.

Personal ownership has less obligation and responsibility than limited company ownership, so your business can be set up or closed quickly if, for example, you decide to move into employment.

Sole Traders don’t benefit from limited liability which means their personal assets could be at risk from creditors if the business incurs debts. This is not the case for limited companies as the business and the owner are two separate legal entities.

There are also significant tax-efficiencies that can be leveraged if you’re a locum working through your own limited company, which means more take home pay.

For many locums, the best option is to incorporate. When you operate through a limited company there’s an increased amount of admin and other obligations due to the more rigorous monitoring required for limited companies, but we can take care of that for you as well as helping to improve your tax-efficiency.

There’s advantages and disadvantages to both operating structures. We provide expert accounting services for locums and can advise which is best for your circumstances and support you every step of the way as you grow your business.

We help with all accounting and tax matters, from corporation tax to taking care of VAT to incorporating your business, providing the expert advice and support you need to manage your accounts successfully.

Request a call back today to speak to one of our expert accountants for locums.

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