BMA welcomes new decision on shared parental leave

The British Medical Association (BMA) has welcomed a newly-announced decision by the NHS Staff Council, stating that improved pay will soon be available for shared parental leave

Following ratification by the NHS Staff Council, from 1 April 2019, improved pay will be available for shared parental leave, as it is for maternity and adoption leave.

Commenting on the new provision, Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, BMA junior doctors committee chair, said: “The BMA Junior Doctors Committee has worked hard to lobby on and deliver equal rights for junior doctors on occupational shared parental leave and pay via the NHS Staff Council.

“After two years of lobbying, the Department of Health and Social Care has agreed to extend this benefit for junior doctors. These changes represent the first fruits of the 2018 contract review process, as well as an important step towards addressing the gender pay gap within medicine in England.

“With doctors increasingly seeking greater work-life balance these improvements will also provide them with greater flexibility in their working arrangements.

“As well as improved access to shared parental leave and pay for trainees, the new rules mean that, if staff now work a Keeping in Touch (KIT) day during their paid leave, they will receive a day in lieu too.

“The new provisions also mean that time now spent on an approved out of programme experience will no longer cause a break in a doctor’s continuity of service.

“Previously, doctors wishing to share responsibility for care following the birth of their child generally faced the prospect of having to take a financial hit or, in the case of junior doctors, be told that they did not qualify for shared leave due to the rotational nature of their employment contract.

“This meant that parents wishing to take time away from work to share childcare were unable to, which in turn often compelled the mother or primary adopter to take a full year out of their career, a situation that contributed to gender pay disparity within medicine.

“If a mother wishes to take her full maternity leave and pay, rather than convert it to shared parental leave, she can still do that. This is about choice – the introduction of fair shared parental leave brings greater flexibility for parents, significantly enhances the rights of junior doctors and delivers greater fairness and equality in the workplace.

“Going forward, junior doctors with rotational training contracts in England who did not previously qualify for statutory maternity, adoption or shared parental payments, will be able to get equivalent payments from their NHS employer as well.”

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