The NHS Staff Council has endorsed new rules on shared parental leave for junior doctors, allowing more trainee medics to qualify to take shared parental leave, as well as receive an enhanced rate of pay above statutory levels.
The new rules, effective today (Monday 1 April 2019), were agreed with medical trade union and professional body the British Medical Association (BMA); its Junior Doctors Committee lobbied for the changes.
Junior doctors in England will now be able to share up to six weeks of parental leave at full pay, inclusive of any statutory maternity or adoption pay entitlement, and 18 weeks of leave at half pay plus the statutory maternity or adoption pay, which currently stands at £145 a week. This is followed by 13 weeks of leave at the statutory maternity or adoption pay and a final 13 weeks of unpaid leave.
The revised rules also enable more trainee doctors to qualify for shared parental leave. Typically, employees need 26 weeks of service with the same employer by the end of the 15th week before their due date, or by the end of the week they are matched with a child for adoption to qualify. However, due to the rotational nature of junior doctors’ training contracts, many previously did not have the qualifying length of service to be able to take shared parental leave.
Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, chair of the Junior Doctors Commission at the BMA, said: “Starting a family represents a significant life change for anyone, whatever their profession, with the prospect of becoming a parent resulting in re-evaluation of priorities and working arrangements.
“These new rules give junior doctors more choice and flexibility in how they share and take leave to care for their children in those vital early months. Previously, doctors in training would generally be worse off if they chose to split their leave between two parents rather than one parent taking all the paid entitlement.
“Before the change in rules on eligibility for shared parental leave too, it would have been impossible for some junior doctors on rotational contracts to get enough service to qualify for their leave entitlement. Now they can, many more families will be able to share leave in that first year.”