Locum rates tend to vary around the country – with higher hourly pay in London and major cities. Bear in mind that all hourly rates are subject to National Insurance contributions and deductions for tax (between 20% and 45% for income tax and 20% for those who set themselves up as a limited company) as these deductions are not normally shown in the quoted rate.
There has been quite a lot of news coverage of what locums earn with varying rates, some of which are realistic, some of which aren’t. Some newspapers have suggested that consultant locums are taking home £3,000 per shift, nurses £1,600 per shift and below-consultant level doctors in excess of £1,000 per shift. However, the reality is that it depends on where you’re working and how you’re working, as well as the number of shifts that you do and the way that you’re paid. One thing that is constant for all locums is that the pay is higher per hour than it is for permanently contracted staff. It’s easy to find out what a professional of your level would be paid in the area that you want to work – just ask. From that point you can normally negotiate to a certain extent, depending on what you as an individual have to offer.
If you want to earn more as a locum then there are some methods that can help you achieve this goal. For example, if you take on longer job placements then you can build up a reputation and profile and this will give you more opportunity to have more input over the rate of pay that you receive. You will also become more valued if you have a great track record as a locum, if you have taken on a number of placements and proved yourself to be not just reliable but a valuable member of staff too – people are always willing to pay a little more for a locum who makes life easier for those around.
Make sure that you’re available and easy to get hold of too, this will not just secure more placements to help you build up that track record to boost your value but will also ensure that you’re the first port of call for the best jobs (which usually have the higher hourly rates). If you think that certain experience might boost your value then consider taking a pay cut for a short period of time to gain experience in a specific area to boost your locum value. Finally, remember that it’s important to have a good perspective on what you’re worth as a locum – don’t undervalue yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for the rate you feel you deserve. Even if you don’t get it straight away it will give you more insight into how to negotiate and where the pay boundaries lie.