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29 June 2011

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I became a non-clinical partner last year. Once the senior partner retires could she dissolve the partnership, leaving me out of a job?

Question in full:

I am a practice manager who became a non-clinical GP partner in July 2010. Whilst the PCT have added my name to our PMS contract along with the senior partner and a new GP that joined us last year, we are still to sort out the partnership agreement due to various differences. In particular the new GP is not happy that I am working full time as I think probably all practice managers in our area who work for a small practice are part-time. I realise that while I still have a contract of employment (signed by the senior partner) I am protected somewhat. However once the partnership agreement is in place and I become self employed (as a profit-sharing partner though on a fixed salary) I am concerned as to what protection I have as a partner. Once the senior partner retires (possibly within 18 months’ time) could she dissolve the partnership leaving me out of a job? If we merged with another practice what protection would I have then?


Your employment is actually protected once the partnership is formed based on the continuity of employment that you would have accrued.
Any vulnerability to your position would be the same with or without the partnership agreement. However, if you sign for fewer hours this would devalue any potential constructive dismissal claim for change of hours.
Direct Law & Personnel specialise in Employment Law, not contract law, and we are not partnership experts, it would appear that this opportunity for clarification and security should be one that you seize and should not be afraid of.
As long as you don’t sign any reduced contract your position is protected.
From information given it may actually be that your remuneration is likely to change, ie, profit-related, and they are looking to call you ‘self-employed’ but in actual fact you will still be an employee of the practice and your rights will be the same as at present.
We would strongly advise you to get your own independent legal advice from a generalist company lawyer, but on the face of it you really have nothing to fear from the partnership being clarified and signed off.