Enhanced shared parental leave for junior doctors
The information below has been pulled from the BMA website. For more information please click here.
Currently only basic statutory pay for shared parental leave has been available to doctors, rather than enhanced occupational pay such as for maternity leave. This means that doctors will generally be financially worse off if they choose to split their year of leave between two parents rather than one parent taking a full year.
From 1 April 2019, shared parental pay will be enhanced to the same levels as occupational maternity and adoption pay, meaning parents can make a choice based on what is best for them.
Junior doctors committee first advocated for occupational shared parental leave and pay as part of the contract negotiations that took place in 2016, and after two years of lobbying the Department of Health and Social Care agreed to extend this benefit not only for junior doctors but for all NHS staff.
The effect of the changes
The maternity leave section of the NHS terms and conditions handbook, which is shared with the 2016 junior doctor contract, has been updated to include the new shared parental leave enhancement.
Enhancing statutory rates of shared parental pay gives couples more choice over who takes leave and how it is taken after the birth or adoption of a child. It is an important first step towards addressing the imbalance in unpaid caring responsibilities between men and women which influences the gender pay gap, and the BMA will continue working to build on this progress.
The key changes
- The rate of pay for shared parental leave is now equivalent to the rate paid for occupational maternity leave, which means it corresponds to what NHS staff actually earn and not a statutory minimum
- Junior doctors with rotational training contracts are now eligible for the equivalent to statutory pay for maternity, adoption and shared parental leave as well
- The staff handbook has new sections on fostering for adoption, overseas adoption and surrogacy to ensure clarity and protection for staff with all types of family
- There is a new requirement for staff to receive a day or half day of paid leave in lieu if they work a KiT (keeping in touch) or SPLiT (shared parental leave in touch) day on a paid or half paid day of their leave period
- There is a new section on continuity of service clarifying that breaks in service while on approved OOP (out of programme), on an honorary contract or in a placement with a non-NHS employer in a crown dependency will be disregarded so they don’t affect eligibility for maternity, adoption and shared parental leave
- There is no requirement to provide additional evidence to access the occupational pay rights. Staff just need to provide the statutory notifications and NHS Employers have agreed to use the standard forms available on GOV.UK
- Enhanced shared parental pay can be applied retrospectively, if someone is already on maternity or shared parental leave on 1 April when the new benefit comes into effect
2018 review of the junior doctor contract
This is an early positive result from the 2018 review of the junior doctor contract in England being undertaken by the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health and Social Care. One of five thematic workgroups that formed to progress the review in 2018 was focused on LTFT training and flexible working and equalities. The group agreed joint recommendations to improve the maternity, adoption and shared parental leave and pay offer for trainees.