Optometrists who are being asked to agree to “unfair” sales targets or performance measures have been urged to contact the Optometry Association Australia (OAA) for advice.
Genevieve Quilty, CEO of OAA said while performance targets are legally acceptable in Australia, they can lead to an optometrist breaching their legal and ethical responsibilities.
In the UK, optometrists working for multiple practice employers have complained about the ramifications of being placed on a “capability performance management procedure” based purely on sales.
In a letter to the editor published in Optometry UK, by an anonymous writer who wrote that (s)he had been told to view her capability performance management procedure, which was based solely on sales, as a ‘positive step’. The writer had experienced two grievance meetings and received one notification of the need to improve performance – despite selling spectacles to 80 per cent of prescribed patients on the day of their eye examination,
Whilst performance management targets are legally acceptable under the Fair Work Act… optometrists also need to be mindful of their other legal and professional responsibilities
Another optometrist (who also requested to remain anonymous) wrote that because of the performance based procedure he had been placed on, he had chosen to leave the supermarket chain he worked for before being pushed out.
“My ‘performance review’ was entirely on KPIs and department performance, taking no account of my exemplary ‘clinical ability’ or my communication skills. Ironically I was given a Gold Star Award based on positive patient feedback to the store,” he wrote. The writer claimed his partner, also an optometrist who worked in a multiple practice environment, felt like “a tool to be used and made to conform to business plans.”
An optom from Manchester in the UK by the name DE Edwards, likened the multiple practice approach to the modern day banking system, where promises of free banking lead to malpractice and overselling.
“The free eye tests (with free digital imaging) and free varifocals, for example, distort people’s impression of how the optical industry funds itself and it also undermines our professional standing,” wrote Edwards.
Employees Should be Wary
Ms. Quilty said Australian optometrists should be wary of working under similar employment conditions. “The Association is aware that sales targets and performance measurements are a factor in some employment relationships in the UK,” said Ms. Quilty.
“The Association’s advice to practising optometrists possibly being approached in Australia would be to consider any employment conditions associated with these performance targets to these matters very carefully. This could include considering the impact such conditions may have on their professional autonomy and seeking professional legal advice as needed.
“Whilst performance management targets are legally acceptable under the Fair Work Act so long as they are fair and reasonable, unlike in simple retail environments, optometrists also need to be mindful of their other legal and professional responsibilities as they practise optometry including their:
- Duty of care to the patient under Australian Common Law
- Professional obligations and responsibilities as per the Optometry Board’s Code of Conduct
“The Association would not, and neither should registered optometrists, support any sales targets or performance measures that are not fair and reasonable and may inadvertently lead to an optometrist breaching their legal and ethical responsibilities,” she said.
Ms. Quilty added that, “if optometrists are asked to sign these sorts of documents they are encouraged to contact the Association and the Optometry Board of Australia for further clarification and advice”.