When we think of healthcare professionals, we often think about them being employed by hospitals and practices. While this is true, many healthcare professionals like nurses also seek out alternative working arrangements, like agency work. 

Nursing agencies often work closely with healthcare facilities or people that are in need of a healthcare professional at home, in order to provide them with the right kind of care. For nurses, this can be a great way to make extra cash or have more flexible work arrangements. 

So, if you’re thinking of starting up your own nursing agency, you could be helping provide a valuable service to the community while getting to run your own business. However, there’s a few legal factors you will need to take care of to make sure your agency operates legally and ethically. 

How To Open A Nursing Agency In Australia 

High up on your list of things to do, it’s important to have, ‘get my nursing agency registered’ sitting somewhere. It’s wise to have your business officially registered before you start conducting any business matters. 

Prior to registering your nursing agency, you will need to have a clear idea on what kind of business structure will be right for your agency. Commonly, people register as a sole trader or company, however there are other business structures you could look into (we recommend seeking the advice of a legal expert). 

A few questions to ask yourself is:

  • Will I benefit more from being personally responsible for my business or is it better to have it function as its own legal entity? 
  • What kind of risks will I be exposed to and does my chosen business structure help minimise this?
  • How much time and money is appropriate for me to dedicate towards setting up a business structure? 
  • What kind of registration and reporting duties am I ready to comply with?
  • Do I want something simple or am I prepared to manage a business structure that’s a little more complex? 

A sole trader business means that you will be personally responsible for your nursing agency, however the registration process is quick and relatively easy. 

A company on the other hand, is a legal entity. As a result, its registration requires more careful planning. Plus, there’s more rules and regulations you will need to adhere to when running a company as companies have more regulatory requirements and compliance checks than sole trader businesses. It’s important you work out what you’re prepared to manage as well as what structure will best suit your business’s needs prior to getting it registered. 

This can be a tough decision to make as it will set the foundations for your nursing agency. If you have any questions, our legal experts are happy to answer them.  

Do I Need A Nursing Qualification To Start A Nursing Agency?

If you plan on conducting the work and visiting patients yourself then yes, you will need to obtain the relevant qualifications. However, if your role within the nursing agency is simply running the show- then you likely don’t need to attain any medical qualifications. 

Even though you don’t need a nursing qualification, it’s important to have a good understanding of the industry, so you can better assess the needs of your clients and staff. If you don’t come from a nursing background, consider the ways you can attain a better understanding of the industry, so you have the right knowledge to run your business. 

You will also need to ensure that your staff is fully qualified and prepared to do the job. The last thing you want is for your agency to be sending out people to a job site that aren’t meant to be there. Make sure you read up on the different requirements for the varying types of nurses and have a strong vetting process ready. 

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Nursing Agency? 

The cost of starting a nursing agency will depend on a number of different factors. You might like to start your agency small and build it up from there. Alternatively, it might be better for your business to commit fully to a bigger set up. Naturally, a smaller set up will have fewer costs, whereas a larger one will be much more expensive. It’s crucial to carefully plan out your finances and think of a way to raise capital for your nursing agency, so you don’t run out of funds halfway through setting it up. 

Capital raising is a great way to raise the money for your business venture however, it can be a complex process. Having the help of legal experts can go a long way- talk to us today if you would like to know more about raising capital for your nursing agency.  

What Legal Documents Do I Need To Start A Nursing Agency?

Along with funds and registration, it’s important to have the right legal documents that can help protect your nursing agency. Strong, well written contracts provide your business with safety, whereas no contracts (or weakly written ones) can end up hurting your business. 

We’ve listed some key legal documents you might want to consider getting drafted for your nursing agency. 

Privacy Policy (Health Service Provider)

When a business gathers information from clients online, they need to ensure they are compliant with the Privacy Act and Australian Privacy Principles. For health service providers, the stakes are higher as medical information is considered particularly sensitive. Thus, having a well-crafted Health Service Provider Privacy Policy is crucial to meet all the necessary legal requirements. Priortitisng privacy requirements not only makes your nursing agency legally compliant, it can also demonstrate to clients that you are running trustworthy and reliable business. It’s worth having a legal expert draft your health service provider privacy policy that meets all necessary legal requirements.

Labour Hire Agreement

When you’re interacting with clients, it’s important to set out what they can expect from your nursing agency, as well as what their duties and responsibilities will be as the client. A Labour Hire Agreement can help manage expectations from the start by covering everything necessary, from scope of work, to payment methods as well as contract termination. Having a well drafted agreement in place can also help address any liabilities or risk, so talk to a legal expert about getting one today. 

Employment Agreements 

As you set up and manage your nursing agency, one of the critical tasks will be hiring qualified nurses and staff to deliver exceptional care. To ensure a smooth and professional working relationship, it’s essential to have the right contracts in place. Consider having both Contractor Agreements and Employment Agreements drafted for your staff, as employees and contractors have distinct roles and responsibilities. These agreements will cover all essential aspects and set the tone for your working relations. 

Contractors, being external employees, have different rights and responsibilities, which should be reflected in their employment agreement. On the other hand, employees are internal members of your company, and their rights and responsibilities will differ accordingly. Having these well-prepared contracts will help foster a positive work environment and ensure everyone is clear about their roles and obligations, contributing to the success of your nursing agency.

Workplace Policy 

In every business, operating by a clear set of rules is essential to maintain a positive and well-organised environment. These rules not only contribute to a well-run business but also ensure the safety and well-being of your staff. According to Safe Work Australia, it is the responsibility of every employer to take reasonable measures to provide a safe work environment. Crafting a well-drafted Workplace Policy establishes a standard for employees, and promotes consistency across the organisation. By having a comprehensive workplace policy, you can establish a firm foundation for strong workplace ethics, morals and conduct which is especially important when members of your staff are likely to be dealing with people who need care. 

What About An International Nurse Recruitment Agency? 

There’s keen interest from people living outside of Australia, to come and work within Australia as a nurse. It’s not uncommon for nursing agencies to hire people from overseas to work in Australia, as long as their qualifications and experience meet Australian requirements. If your nursing agency is going to be international, then it’s important to look into and cover any additional legal requirements, such as paperwork. Furthermore, you might want to make sure your contracts have an international element to them. International Contracts can make sure your business is protected, even when dealing with matters outside of Australia. It can save you a lot of stress and hassle down the road, so get in touch with our legal experts to discuss your options today.   

Next Steps

There’s always going to be a need for healthcare professionals and a nursing agency can help provide nurses where needed. If you’re thinking of going down this road, this is great! However, it’s important to carefully take care of all the legal considerations before you get going. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Registering your nursing agency is crucial, and choosing the right business structure requires careful consideration.
  • While nursing qualifications might not be necessary for running the agency, understanding the healthcare industry is essential.
  • Having well-drafted legal documents, such as Health Service Provider Privacy Policy, Labour Hire Agreement and Employment Agreements, is crucial to protect your business and ensure compliance.
  • A comprehensive Workplace Policy is vital to establish a positive and safe work environment for your staff.
  • If your nursing agency involves international recruitment, additional legal requirements and international contracts should be considered to protect your business when dealing with matters outside of Australia.

If you would like a consultation on starting a nursing agency, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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