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Maternity and Adoption Leave

Maternity and Adoption Leave

Maternity Leave for GP Registrars

Approximately 15% of each cohort of GP registrars has at least one period of maternity leave during their GP training.  A comprehensive guide to entitlements and employment matters can be found on the NHS employers site here.

This page covers some commonly asked questions about maternity leave and GP training; please refer to the NHS employers resources if your question is not answered by these FAQs

I wish to take maternity leave, but I am about to complete my training, so do I lose the right to maternity pay because my contract ends?

With the agreement of your training practice we can extend your training contract for the period of maternity leave in order to claim maternity pay, as long as you can start the maternity leave before the end of the normal training contract. You will not be able to return to the training practice if you have completed your training, and the contract finishes with the maternity leave.

Do I lose my maternity pay if I don't return to work after maternity leave?

If you are at the end of your training, you don't have to return to work to retain maternity pay. This does not apply to regular posts within the NHS and you would normally be obliged to repay the occupational maternity pay, but the rules are different if your training is complete and you have no right of return.

I will start maternity leave with 3 weeks remaining of my current hospital post. Will this placement count as completed and what post will I return back to?

In general the training counts if you have completed at least 3 months however the decision is more about achieving competence rather than simply completing time. Your clinical and educational supervisors will make a recommendation to the Annual Review Competency Panel. You WILL be required to make up the time lost for maternity leave, but less often less often asked to repeat the post. You are entitled to come back to a similar training post, on the same terms, although this may be different to the one you left.

With regards to annual leave whilst on maternity leave - how much am I entitled to and do I take this before returning? Will leave be as normal after this?

Annual leave continues to accrue during maternity leave so you still have your normal annual leave after returning to work. Your leave entitlement remains the same, so if you have 30 days leave remaining before going on maternity leave you still have 30 days remaining on returning. You might therefore wish to take a period of paid annual leave instead of, and at the end of your unpaid period of maternity leave. For example, if you took the maximum paid and unpaid maternity leave of 12 months and started with no annual leave outstanding, you would still accrue a further 25/30 annual leave during your maternity leave period. If you don't take this as part of your unpaid leave in the relevant leave period, you would normally lose all but 5 days of it under the General Whitley Council terms.

Am I entitled to occupational maternity pay (OMP)?

You are eligible for OMP if you have 12 months continuous NHS service at the start of the 11th week before confinement.

Am I entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP)?

To qualify for SMP, you must satisfy the continuous employment rule. You must have been employed by your employer for 26 weeks into the qualifying week (which is the 15th week before the week in which the baby is due). The 26 weeks must be with the same employer, so you do not qualify if you change PCT or move hospital trust. This period must include at least one day's employment in the qualifying week. If you are not eligible for SMP you may apply for Statutory Maternity Allowance through your local Jobcentre Plus. Please see DWP website http://www.dwp.gov.uk/advisers/ni17a/. Further details about the difference between SMP and MA are explained in the NHS employers document here

I’ve heard I can share my maternity leave with my partner, how does this work?

Since 3rd April 2011 fathers and civil partners in the case of same sex couples have the right to take between two and twenty six weeks additional paternity leave if the mother has returned to work. This is in addition to two weeks ordinary paternity leave and can only start twenty weeks after the child is born.  They are entitled to receive additional paternity pay if the mother has not exhausted her statutory maternity pay when she returns to work. They also have the right to maintain the same terms and conditions (other than pay) as if he had been at work and have the right to return to work in the same job and on the same conditions.

Am I allowed time off to attend antenatal appointments?

Pregnant employees are entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. Whilst it is illegal for employers to refuse to give pregnant employees time off for antenatal care or refuse to pay their normal rate for this time off, fathers do not have a legal right to time off to accompany their partners to antenatal appointments.

Adoption Leave

Adoption Leave for GP Registrars

The provision for maternity and adoption leave for GP Trainees are broadly similar. The key difference is that the initial part of the leave is taken by "the primary carer" which means that if you are adopting a child as part of a couple one of you must choose to take the initial leave (where for maternity leave the initial part has to be taken by the pregnant woman).

There are two elements to adoption leave/pay – Statutory Provisions which are the same for all employees in the UK and the enhanced occupational benefits provided by the NHS

Statutory Adoption Leave

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks Statutory Adoption Leave. The first 26 weeks is known as ‘Ordinary Adoption Leave’, the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Adoption Leave’.

Leave can start:

  • up to 14 days before the child starts living with the employee (UK adoptions)
  • when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date (overseas adoptions)

This can be quite complex and we suggest you refer to https://www.gov.uk/employers-adoption-pay-leave/eligibility and take advice from your social worker.

Employees won’t qualify for statutory adoption leave or pay if they:

  • become a special guardian or kinship carer
  • adopt a stepchild
  • have a child through surrogacy
  • adopt a family member or stepchild
  • adopt privately - eg without permission from an UK authority or adoption agency

Statutory Adoption Pay

Statutory Adoption Pay for eligible employees is £136.78 a week or 90% of their gross average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

It’s paid for up to 39 weeks of adoption leave and in this respect is broadly similar to SMP.  Tax and National Insurance need to be deducted.

Employment rights

An employee’s employment rights (like the right to pay, holidays and returning to a job) are protected during adoption leave.

GP Registrar Adoption Leave and pay

If a GP Registrar is going to be the adoptive parent of a child and will be the main carer provider for that child, they may be eligible for occupational adoption pay. To be eligible the GP Registrar must have 12 months' continuous service ending with the week in which the GP Registrar was notified of having been matched with the child for adoption, including any such notification received from an adoption agency.

Pay is broadly in line with maternity provisions:

  • for the first 8 weeks of absence they should receive full pay (this includes statutory adoption pay)
  • for the next 18 weeks of absence (weeks 9 to 26), they should receive half pay providing the total receivable including any Statutory Adoption Pay, does not exceed full allowance
  • for the next 13 weeks they are entitled to statutory adoption pay

Reasonable time off to attend official meetings in the adoption process shall also be given. 

You might also want to consider reading a useful paperback publication: “So you want to be a medical mum” by Emma Hill from the ‘Success in Medicine’ series published by the Oxford University Press in Feb 2008 ISBN 978-0-19-923758-6  

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