• Doctors taking shared parental leave will receive enhanced, rather than basic statutory, pay
  • Enhanced shared parental pay can be applied retrospectively
  • Doctors will get paid for working “keeping in touch” days

Junior doctors taking shared parental leave will have their pay enhanced above the statutory rate from Monday, the British Medical Association has announced in a positive first outcome from the 2016 contract review.

Doctors currently receive basic statutory pay – currently £145.18 per week for up to 39 weeks – for shared parental leave, which has resulted in people being financially worse off if they choose to split their year of leave between two parents rather than one.

From 1 April 2019, this pay will be enhanced to the same level as contractual maternity and adoption pay. This will mean junior doctors can share six weeks’ full pay and 18 weeks’ half pay inclusive of statutory entitlement.

The BMA has confirmed enhanced shared parental pay can be applied retrospectively if a doctor is already on maternity or shared parental leave on 1 April.

Last year, it was announced the BMA and NHS Employers had agreed the terms of reference to review the 2016 contract, with a focus on safe working hours, weekend payments and protecting education and training.

The proposals for the enhanced joint parental leave rates were jointly agreed by a working group focussing on less than full-time training, flexible working and equalities.

Other changes agreed as part of the contract review include:

  • A new requirement for staff to receive paid leave in lieu if they work “keeping in touch” days or half days during their leave period;
  • No requirement to provide additional evidence to access the occupational pay rights;
  • New sections in the staff handbook on fostering for adoption, overseas adoption and surrogacy to ensure clarity and protection for staff; and
  • Breaks in service while on approved out of programme, on an honorary contract or in a placement with a non-NHS employer in a crown dependency to be disregarded so they don’t affect eligibility for maternity, adoption and shared parental leave.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya said: “These new rules give junior doctors more choice and flexibility on how they share and take leave to care for their children in those vital early months.

“It is an important first step towards addressing the imbalance in unpaid caring responsibilities between men and women which influences the gender pay gap.”

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Extending shared parental leave to these NHS staff is an important step towards making our health service a more flexible and responsive employer, giving new parents greater choice over how they juggle the demands of work and family.”

Last year, the government said it would consider a “modest additional investment” in the junior doctors’ contract, two years after a bitter dispute with medics which led to the first strike action in 40 years.