There may be circumstances where practices feel that supporting their registrars with a financial payment roughly equivalent to a proportion of their lost wages is appropriate.
Financial support would be considered a taxable benefit
If a GP Practice provides financial support (cash or cash equivalents from GP Practice funds) to GP registrars, it would be considered a taxable benefit by HMRC. Income tax (tax) and National Insurance (NI) would be due.
NI rules differ based on who facilitates the GP registrar payment. In general, we would assume that it would not come from the lead employer and so NI would be due by the GP Practice.
The average take-home daily pay (after tax, pension & student loan deductions) for ST1-2 registrars is around £116.65. The value for ST3-4 registrars is around £138.60. Therefore, the suggested payment values if you want to compensate GP registrars for any deduction to their wages resulting from participation in the action are below.
- ST1-2: £115/day
- ST3-4: £135/day
These values are roughly equivalent to a day’s take-home pay, but you are free to issue any payments to registrars that you deem suitable.
Calculating tax owed
Any amount received by the GP registrar from the GP practice is required to be based on the tax band of the GP registrar.
For example, if a GP registrar (who pays tax at 20%) received £100 then the amount payable to HMRC by the GP Practice would be £42.25. (£100 * 100/80 = £125 > £25 income tax; £125 * 13.8% = £17.25 employers NIC Class 1A; 25 + 17.25 = £42.25)
The GP practice has an obligation to inform the employer of the GP registrar of this payment as further NI may be due on amounts paid. GP registrar are also required to declare any receipts on their self-assessment tax return. Where GP registrars do not receive a self-assessment tax return, they would need to contact HMRC directly.
Please note: this is our opinion on the possible income tax consequences on the provision of support by the GP practices to GP registrars. If you wish you can seek to obtain tailored tax advice through our appointed advisors Ernst & Young (please note this must be self-funded).
Speak with your registrars
If you are considering issuing this form of support, we would strongly encourage you to speak with your registrar(s) to clarify the extent of the support you can provide, as the BMA is unable to clarify, at this point, what the total length of strike action will be.
If you do issue these payments, it may be beneficial to record the discussion around the issuing of these payments with registrars, to ensure clarity for all parties.
In the event of registrar receiving gift payment for industrial action related deductions which do not get made for any reason, GP registrars would be expected to follow the guidance on probity issued by the GMC in the Maintaining Trust section of the GMC’s Good Medical Practice. This would involve GP registrars informing practices of these payments and discussing the return of any practice-issued financial support.
If you are unable to offer support
In circumstances where practices are approached by registrars for financial support, but the practice feels that they are unable to financially support these registrars, there is no obligation on the practice to issue any financial support. We would recommend that the practice directs those registrars to apply to the BMA’s strike fund.
Other support for GPs and their families in times of financial need are the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund.