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What rates do locums charge?

Recently, a firm have asked us to find them a locum but do not know what exactly a locum does or how much exactly they cost.

A company called us to ask us for a locum to cover for between three and seven weeks. We checked with our locums, found three or four and arranged one of these who was particularly strong and available. They interviewed him and he was quite happy with their set up and he was keen to take the position. We then had a telephone call from the managing director informing us that his budget was £100 a day and would that person be able to work within that.

Our locum gave us the answer we expected, somewhat incredulous, how dare they waste my time.

It was almost as if the company thought that locums charge less than permanent staff as a permanent member of staff on this person’s salary would be earning over £40,000. It would mean that on the rule of thumb, a locum rate would probably be closer to £60,000 for that length of time.

How much does a locum charge?

It depends on the position, but rule of thumb that works quite well is simply to take the salary that you would expect to pay to the permanent member of staff and add on 50 percent.

This will be the cost of employing that locum for less than, say, four weeks.

For a locum to work longer than four weeks, the rates can usually be negotiated down. So expect to pay 1.25 to 1.33 times the going rate for the permanent post.

Under no circumstances offer less than you would a permanent member of staff, and if you ignore this advice and go ahead, you will almost certainly find that the quality of the locum will be quite disappointing and may end up costing you considerably more than you would have had to pay out for the right level of quality of staff.

Professional locums work on the rule of thumb that they expect to be out of work for two months out of every 12. They usually do locum or contract work either because they are unable to find a permanent post in the area that they want to work in or alternatively because it gives them the flexibility to work for periods of time and then take time off. For that to be viable, they almost always need to be paid at a fairly good rate and very few of them will ever drop this. This applies across all walks of life. It makes a lot of sense.

Some agencies employ locums themselves and charge them out to clients at a rate from which they have applied a mark up and the candidate is paid by the agency.

The agency I am involved in, Ten Percent Legal Recruitment, does not employ candidates directly but instead opt for the self-employed route or a temporary PAYE employee status for its locums. In actual fact, this works out quite well and most locums will prefer to be self-employed in any event as it gives them complete control over the rate they are getting paid by the company, they do not need to worry that the agency is some way is taking off the hourly rate for them to work with them.

So when you are thinking of employing a locum, think carefully about what it is you are looking for, and how long you want them to be there. The rate you are prepared to pay will almost invariably affect what quality of work you will get and how useful the locum will actually be.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment, specialists for the recruitment of solicitors and employers in the UK. He also coaches all professionals and graduates via, as well as writing regularly for this blog. You can contact Jonathan at


Anonymous said…
Thanks for this informative article. I am thinking of becoming a locum and your blog has been most informative. I will be registering with you tomorrow. Best regards.

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