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Working hours

THE EDITOR, Madam:

A LETTER from Sonia King which you published on May 4 suggests that there is some confusion about the "normal working hours" for "Junior Doctors" (a misleading name, by the way, as it includes all doctors in the Government service or at UHWI who are not consultants, regardless of how long they have been qualified; I suggest a name change). She wondered how could the "Junior Doctors" be penalised for "working-to-rule", which I understood to mean in the case of the "Junior Doctors", working a 40-hour work week. Perhaps I can clarify the legal position.

The issue had simmered since 1985, and the Junior Doctors Association took the Government and UHWI to Court in 1988.

In 1990 the Supreme Court rejected the contention of the "Junior Doctors" that their normal working hours were from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and that when they worked beyond those hours they were entitled to overtime pay. The case is reported in Volume 27 of the Jamaica Law Reports, at p. 148.

In the case of the doctors employed by the Government, the Court decided that they were civil servants and that there was no special arrangement which created a 40-hour work week for them. In the case of the doctors employed by the University Hospital, the Court decided that their contracts with the hospital did not establish that they had a 40-hour work week.

As far as I am aware the legal position has not changed since 1990.

I am, etc.,

DENNIS GOFFE, Q.C.,

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