Locum pension contributions: guide for GP practices

GP practices in England and Wales are legally required to pay 14.38% employer’s pension contributions to locums. Practices should be aware of these considerations and exceptions.
Location: England Wales
Audience: GPs Practice managers
Updated: Thursday 16 January 2020
GP practice article illustration

​In England and Wales, all practices are responsible for the employer’s pension contribution for locums.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the employer’s pension contribution for locums is the responsibility of primary care organisations.

 

How to pay employer pension contributions

  1. Locum completes part 1 of form A and sends to the practice along with their invoice.
  2. The practice completed form B (make sure you keep copies) and returns to the locum along with the payment including pension contributions.
  3. Practices pay a pension contribution of 14.38% to the locum on top of their fee.

    The employer’s pension contribution is based on the locum’s pensionable income, which is 90% of their total fee. The remaining 10% covers expenses.
  4. The locum passes the payment and forms to PCSE.
  5. PCSE administers the practitioner pension on behalf of NHS England, or to the local health board in Wales.

 

If you don't pay contributions

Payment of the employer’s contribution is a statutory requirement. NHS pensions will report practices that refuse to pay it to the pensions regulator. 

Practices could face legal action if:

  • they fail to pay employer’s pension contributions
  • they alter locum fees solely to avoid paying the additional contributions
  • groups of practices in a particular area agree a set locum fee, as this breaches anti-competition law.

The cost of employer’s pension contributions is accounted for through the global sum.

 

Longer-term locums

After six months of continuous work with a practice, the locum is regarded as a type 2 practitioner in the pension scheme.

The practice must then pay their pension contributions as a salaried GP. Locum forms A and B cannot be used.

Practices should take advice about the tax position of long-term locums and consider using the HMRC employment status indicator.

 

Excluded locums

Employers do not need to pay pension contributions to locums who:

  • are not part of the NHS pension scheme (a locum may only treat income earned from certain contracts as pensionable pay)
  • work through locum agencies that are not recognised NHS employing authorities (and who therefore cannot pension their income)
  • trade as limited companies.

 

Further considerations

Reclaiming locum costs

Legally, the practice is liable to pay the 14.38%, not the individual partner requiring locum cover.

GP partners should take the employer’s pension contribution into account when claiming back the cost of locum cover when they are absent from the practice, for example for CCG work.

Check your insurance cover

Practices are advised to check their locum insurance policies to ensure they have sufficient cover for the additional cost of employer’s pension contributions for locums.

Mileage charges

When charging for mileage, some locums list a separate expense on their invoices and others include it in the total fee. Whatever is entered in box 1 on form A is the amount that will be used to calculate the pensionable income and the employer’s contribution.

Practices should not expect locums to separate mileage from their fee in order to reduce the total in box 1.

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