Taking on a new partner is a significant step for any GP practice, and it is important to get it right from the outset.
Once a new Partner has been selected, a partnership offer letter should be next on the agenda.
Why do you need one?
The letter will act as written confirmation of the key terms of the appointment. By properly documenting and setting out the terms in this way, the offer letter can provide some protection for the Partnership until the Partnership Deed is updated, and reduces the risk of dispute over the offered terms.
What about the partnership deed?
The admission of a partner is something that needs to be dealt with within a partnership deed as soon as possible once your offer has been accepted.
Practices often find difficulty in updating the Partnership Deed before the start date, which makes the offer letter even more vital, as it will act as a holding agreement until the Deed is resigned.
There is a misconception that a partnership deed shouldn’t be updated until after an incoming Partner has completed their probation period. This approach is not advisable for a number of reasons and ultimately you can end up as a partnership at will which can put your contract at risk.
What should the offer letter cover?
The offer letter needs to be consistent with the existing arrangements that are set out in the existing partnership deed. The key things it should include, are:
- Commencement date
- Offer of partnership – clearly stating that the position is self-employed
- Notifications - confirming that notifications will be given to NHS England & CQC once the offer if accepted
- Sessions – outlining in detail the sessions that are expected to be covered
- Partnership share – explaining how earnings will be worked out
- Working capital – detailing any working capital contribution that is expected
- Surgery premises – attaching a copy of the surgery lease and outlining there will be shared liability for the lease terms, including the rent. If there is to be a commitment to buy into the surgery premises, this should also be stated
- Mutual assessment period – detailing any probation period and what it will entail, including notice periods
- Annual Leave entitlement
- Administrative requirements – stating that proof of identity and qualifications, eligibility to work in the UK and an up to date CRB check will all be needed prior to the partnership commencing
- Acceptance – the time frame within which the offer must be accepted
- Partnership Deed – a copy of the Partnership Deed, the terms of which they must consent
Make sure your offer letter is clear and sets out all the key points; it should be signed by one or more of the current Partners and have place for the new recruit to sign by way of acceptance of the terms.
You then need to get the partnership deed updated as quickly as possible, and preferably ahead of the new partner starting.
As with any contracts and partnership issues, it is always advisable to seek the support of an experienced legal team, who can ensure you put yourself in the strongest possible position.
For more information about employment contracts and any other related issues, please contact Daphne Robertson on 01483 511555 or email [email protected]