Contract General practitioner

Last updated:

BMA locum practice agreement

The locum practice agreement has been developed jointly by GPC and the sessional GP subcommittee with the help of BMA Law. It consists of terms and conditions and a work schedule which together form a legal contract that can be used by locum GPs and GP practices for locum engagements. It is intended to minimise common disputes between locums and practices and clearly outline the type of work that will be undertaken by a locum when working at a practice. It is also intended to protect against locums being categorised as an employee or worker by HMRC for tax purposes or by an employment tribunal for the purposes of statutory employment protection, as well as ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place for compliance with GDPR.

BMA members who use the locum practice agreement can check any terms and conditions they are offered with our contract checking service to ensure they align with the BMA model terms and conditions. Members can also contact the BMA to get advice and support with resolving any disputes if they occur.

This guidance provides background and information about the locum practice agreement, as well as the following downloads:

  • Work schedule and model T&Cs
  • Model T&Cs optional clauses
  • Explanatory notes.

The current version applies to England and Wales. Versions for Scotland and Northern Ireland will be published shortly.


Why we developed the locum practice agreement

Our survey of sessional GPs showed that nearly 40 per cent of locum GPs work without any agreed terms and conditions. This can lead to disputes and increase the risk of the locum being categorised as an employee or worker for tax or legal purposes. The changes to IR35 regulations has meant that there has been more scrutiny on whether locums are truly self-employed when working for practices. The GDPR also requires that any data processing arrangements are documented in a formal contract.

Agreeing on terms and conditions at the outset will avoid disputes or, where they do occur, make them easier to resolve.

The agreement is intended to protect against locums being categorised as employees or workers for tax or legal purposes, as well as help comply with GDPR.



Who can use the locum practice agreement

The locum practice agreement can be used by any GP engaging in self-employed locum work at a GP practice or any GP practice engaging a locum. The current version applies to England and Wales. Versions for Scotland and Northern Ireland will be published shortly.


How to use the locum practice agreement

The locum practice agreement consists of two parts – the terms and conditions and a work schedule.

The terms and conditions should be agreed and signed by the locum and practice and once signed, can be used as a framework for all future engagements (although regular review is advised).

The work schedule clearly sets out what work a locum has agreed to undertake on each engagement and should be completed each time a locum agrees to work at a practice.

In this way it avoids the need to sign a whole new contract for each and every engagement.

If there is disagreement on the responsibilities of either the locum or the practice in relation to the contract, BMA members can contact the BMA for advice on how to resolve this based on the contractual provisions and what has been agreed in the work schedule.


What the terms and conditions say

The terms and conditions are a legal document that has provisions to protect both practices and locums against a wide range of things, including being categorised as an employee or worker for tax or legal purposes, and falling foul of the GDPR. The explanatory notes for the terms and conditions provides further detail on what each clause means.


Why you need to complete a new work schedule for each engagement

The work schedule outlines exactly what a locum agrees to do for each engagement and is referred to in the terms and conditions that apply to engagements. It is designed to minimise potential conflict between locums and practices. Some examples of how the work schedule can assist with this are outlined below.

Example 1
You agree to work a full day at a practice, covering surgeries in the morning and afternoon, and visits in the middle of the day. The practice has always been good to work at, and you have no concerns. But today there are 15 visits between only 3 doctors, and you have been given 5 to do.

If the work template has not been completed to specify how many visits you have agreed to, their cost, and the additional charges for extra visits, you will be unable to charge for this extra work. If the practice dispute your extra charges, replying that you had been booked for visits and had not specified the number, there is nothing you can do to compel them to pay. The work template will protect you by clearly stipulating the work you have agreed to do.

Example 2
You arrive at a practice you have worked at before, to find you are the duty doctor and on-call for the whole practice for the day. You were expecting a routine day. The practice manager insists you were told you would be on-call.

If the work schedule had been completed when the booking was confirmed, you would have the information needed to resolve this quickly and without a possible breakdown of relationship between you and the practice over what may be a simple error on either part. If you refused to work as the on-call doctor and the practice then refused to pay you, having proof that you had not agreed to work an on-call day would mean you could successfully invoice the practice.

Example 3
You find you have two private HGV medicals booked into your afternoon clinic. You have never met the patients, so reading through their notes, performing the medical, and completing the paperwork puts you behind time and you are late leaving. You put the cost of carrying out the medicals on your invoice and the practice refuses to pay, stating that you had agreed to work for them and as these were carried out in work time, they expect to keep the full private fees.

The work template clearly indicates whether or not the locum will undertake private work, and who receives the payment for that if they will. This avoids confusion, and in the instance of any dispute, this can be used alongside the terms and conditions to resolve the matter.

Example 4
You are working for a rural or single-handed practice as the only GP for the day. You complete a work schedule based upon anticipated demand, for example predetermined clinics, paperwork and review of results. In addition, the work plan allows for other unscheduled work arising as a result of being on-call that day.

Completing a work schedule does not limit this but sets out expectations of both parties in advance and makes clear what the on-call commitment is. 


Do I have to use the locum practice agreement?

No. We have developed the agreement to assist locums and practices to manage engagements. We believe the agreement protects both locums and practices and reduces the chance of disputes occurring or continuing. The document has been drafted by BMA Law and is what the BMA recommends as good practice. This has been reviewed and approved by the GPC and the sessional GP subcommittee.



Locum practice agreement - work schedule and model T&Cs

Locum practice agreement - model T&Cs optional clauses

Locum practice agreement - explanatory notes