Preparing for a new job as a medical academic

Key questions to ask your employer or potential employer.

Location: UK
Audience: Medical academics
Updated: Tuesday 9 May 2023
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A key concern for many medical academics is whether their employer or prospective employer will show them flexibility.

The questions below are designed to help you discover an institution’s position and approach towards its medical academics on a range of matters, including pay, pensions, contracts, leave, your role, supervision and mentoring, performance, redundancy and income transfer.

The list is not exhaustive, and you may wish to ask only certain questions, or modify them to them to suit your purposes.

Do check your substantive and honorary contracts before asking these questions of potential employers, as some of the information may already be set out in your contract of employment.

We strongly advise having both your substantive and honorary contracts checked before you sign them. The BMA provides a free contract checking service to members if you have any concerns about the contract.



  • Will you recognise my previous NHS service when determining my pay?
  • What is the incremental date for my pay?
  • Will you make sure that I get paid the NHS banding payments that I am entitled to?
  • Do you pay for additional programmed activities (PAs)? Would this apply to both clinical and academic work?
  • I have submitted my PhD. Will you now pay me the academic pay premium? (England only)
  • I am moving from one nation in the UK to another. Will my pay be protected? How will pay progression continue, and will I retain my incremental date?
  • Will my pay be protected on my return to the NHS?
  • Are there any thresholds for pay progression and, if so, what are these?
  • What pay audits have you conducted? How does my pay compare to that of my colleagues?
  • To what extent does my pay depend on my performance?

Medical academics' pay scales​



  • Will I be able to maintain my pension in the NHS pension scheme?
  • Will I suffer any detriment if I move to the university pension scheme (Universities Superannuation Scheme)?
  • Will I be able to move back to the NHS pension scheme should I return to work in the NHS?

Read our guidance on your pension when moving between NHS and university employment



  • Will my substantive and honorary contracts be issued as a single package in line with the Follett Review principles?
  • Will appraisals, job planning and work scheduling (if relevant) be carried out jointly by my clinical and academic employers?
  • Within the clinical portion of my job plan, what is the proportion of the allocation for Supporting Professional Activities (SPAs)?
  • What are my normal hours of work? Is there any expectation of regular weekend working?
  • Will I have full access to all university facilities and support? (NB: some part-time contracts of employment disallow access to software from the institution’s computer services or create limitations of access to library facilities and the sports centre).
  • What is your policy regarding intellectual property?

Medical academics terms and conditions

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BMA contract checking service

Your new employment contract might have issues that you are not aware of and we can provide additional support to get these resolved.

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Contract checking service

Leave, sick leave and parental leave

  • What is my annual leave entitlement?
  • As outlined in the Principles and Obligations document issued by the research funders, will you recognise my previous NHS service for the purposes of calculating my entitlement to occupational benefits such as sick leave and pay and parental leave and pay?
  • Will you recognise my previous NHS service for the purpose of qualifying for SMP (statutory maternity pay) or MA (maternity allowance)?
  • What is your policy regarding study leave and pay?

Read our guidance on leave in the NHS


The job

  • Will my post be time-limited or tenured?
  • How many sessions or PAs will I be expected to do in each part of my job?
  • What are the employer’s expectations of the job?
  • As a junior, have my clinics and any out-of-programme experience (OOPE) been research pre-approved?
  • Will I have access to on-call rotas and out of hours work? What proportion of these will I be expected to work?
  • How has the institution implemented the European Working Time Directive (EWTD)?
  • What is your policy regarding private practice, consultancy and other outside earnings?
  • Who will be undertaking my job plan and its review?
  • What mechanisms do you have for ensuring that all rest and safety requirements of my NHS contract are met?
  • Will I be able to access and report to the Guardian of Safe Working and the Flexible Working Champion through my honorary NHS contract?

Review your job plan


Supervision and mentoring

  • Will the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) or Record of In Training Assessment (RITA) be carried out jointly with the NHS? Will it have a specific academic component?
  • Who will be undertaking my appraisal and will it be done jointly with the NHS?
  • Who will my supervisors be (academic, clinical and educational as required)?
  • Will I have an academic mentor?

Read our guidance on appraisals



  • Are there any performance management criteria that I am expected to meet? If so, what are these? (This may include the generation of research income, publications and presentations. Make sure that the employer takes into account your clinical work and the income from the NHS that it generates).
  • Will I have access to opportunities for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and to maintain registration or licensing with the General Medical Council (GMC)? If so, what form do these opportunities take?
  • Will I be entitled to funded study leave in order to undertake my CPD? If so, which organisation will be responsible for this funding?
  • What protection do I have against double jeopardy in cases which may be reported to the GMC and/or be subject to University disciplinary processes?

Read our guidance on revalidation



  • What is the institution’s policy regarding redundancy and what help does it offer to clinical academics whose jobs are under threat?
  • Would you count my previous NHS service when calculating my entitlement to redundancy pay?

Moving between NHS and university employment


Grant and research income

  • May I transfer grants awarded to me, and any equipment purchased with such grants, to a new institution?
  • How do you manage any separate charitable funds established for research purposes? (NB This is especially important if you already have such funds and are taking them with you to a new employer).
  • Who is responsible for the tax liability from any income I generate for the research fund?