The NHS announces new rules on shared parental leave, including enhanced pay.
The NHS has introduced new rules on shared parental leave which enhance pay and mean junior doctors on rotation are now eligible for the leave.
The changes will give parents entitlement to six weeks’ leave on full pay including the statutory pay entitlement and 18 weeks on half pay plus the statutory pay entitlement.
Junior doctors in England will be eligible for it, including those who must rotate through different hospitals as part of their training. Until now, many trainee doctors didn’t qualify for shared leave because they rotate their work round different hospitals, effectively working for a new employer each time.
The British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors Committee has been lobbying for the changes for some time.
Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, BMA chair of the junior doctors committee said that the changes were a simple yet crucial step towards addressing the gender pay gap within medicine.
He 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 the leave entitlement. Now they can, many more families will be able to share leave in that first year.”
One trainee doctor who may benefit from the changes is Dr Lizzie Moriarty. She says: “When we had our second son, Euan, we did consider [my partner] taking shared parental leave but, under the old rules, he would have been only eligible for statutory parental pay, rather than the occupational maternity pay I’m entitled to. This has a huge effect financially and therefore wasn’t an option for us. As trainee doctors, we work on a rotational basis at different hospital trusts which means we go from one employer to another and so miss out on many of the benefits and entitlements received by those staff who work continuously for one employer, such as childcare vouchers.
“We’ve always seen ourselves as parents first and doctors second, and as any parent knows, while bringing up children is rewarding, it’s also hard work and being able to share the load equally with your partner makes such a difference. If we chose to have another child, we would definitely benefit from the new changes.”