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Overview of your annual leave entitlement


The amount of annual leave will be defined in your terms and conditions of employment and, for hospital doctors, this is also defined in the national terms and conditions of service for the grade. Full-time hospital doctors are also entitled to 8 days of public holiday and 2 days statutory holiday or days in lieu thereof. The two statutory days may, by local agreement, be converted to a period of annual leave.

Hospital doctors - the table below summarises annual leave arrangements:

Grade Annual leave entitlement Notes
Consultant (pre-2003 contract) 6 weeks
Consultant (2003 contract) 6 weeks + 2 extra days after 7 years in the grade for consultants in England and Northern Ireland
Associate specialist 6 weeks + 2 extra days after 7 years in the grade (by local agreement)
Staff grade 5 weeks for first two years.6 weeks in subsequent years Exceptionally, a newly-appointed staff grade may be entitled to 6 weeks leave immediately if previous post carried 6 weeks entitlement
Specialty doctor 5 weeks for first two years, except where the immediate previous post had 6 week entitlement, in which case 6 weeks applies.6 weeks in subsequent years
2002 junior doctors contract:
StRs, StR(FT)s and SpRs on the third or higher incremental points of the payscale
6 weeks Systems should be in place to monitor leave on an annual basis, rather than by each rotation only. Check with local employers how this is managed.
Foundation year 1, Foundation year 2  and StRs, StR(FT)s and SpRs on the minimum, 1st or 2nd incremental points of the payscale 5 weeks
2016 junior doctors contract:
On first appointment to the NHS
27 days
After five years' completed NHS service 32 days
Senior and Clinical medical officers, Hospital practitioners 6 weeks


Junior doctors

See specific leave information and faqs


Information on calculating your leave

Medical academics

For medical academics, other than those employed by the NHS, leave entitlements are determined by the university employer. This entitlement should however, be no less than that for equivalent NHS employees.

Consult your handbook for more details of annual leave

SAS - Additional Leave after seven years

After seven years service as a consultant in England or Northern Ireland, doctors are eligible for two additional days leave. In the SAS grades there is no such additional entitlement in the national TCS for Specialty Doctors, Staff Grades or Associate Specialists. However, it is BMA policy that this entitlement should apply to all in the SAS grades too.

SASC has written to all Local Negotiating Committees asking them to negotiate this as local policy and the BMA are aware that many have agreed to recognise the seniority of those in the SAS grades in this way. Please contact your HR department or LNC to ascertain whether this has been agreed in your trust.

GP partners

The level of annual leave will be defined in your partnership agreement and this is normally a minimum of six weeks. Salaried GPs will have your annual leave defined within your contracts with the practice or employing authority and this, again, is normally six weeks.

For other GP-employed staff

All other GP-employed staff are entitled to 5.6 weeks (28 days if a five-day week is worked) paid leave. This entitlement includes bank and public holidays, and is reduced on a pro rata amount for those working part time. This is a requirement of the Working Time Regulations and pay in lieu of time off is not an option, except on termination of employment.

Less than Full Time Trainees

Annual leave for less than full time trainees should be calculated on a pro-rated basis. So, for example, a less than full time trainee working 60% of a full time rota should receive 60% of the entitlement to annual leave, and 60% of the entitlement to public holidays.

Part-time workers

Part-time workers should receive the same entitlement, on a pro-rata basis, to annual leave as their full-time colleagues. It is important to check how annual leave entitlement is expressed in contracts of employment - ie in terms of weeks, days or hours - and that pro-rating is correctly applied for part-time staff. It should be noted that a failure to correctly pro-rate holidays for part-time staff will place the employer in breach of the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.


Requests and authorisation

Most employers have a formal system in place to request annual leave - granting annual leave will always be at the discretion of the employer.

No employer should, however, unreasonably refuse a request for annual leave providing it has came through the agreed channels and provides reasonable notice to allow for alternative cover arrangements to be put in place.

  • For most hospital employed staff, 'reasonable' notice is often based on lead time for out-patient clinic or theatre appointments, usually around six weeks.
  • It should, however, be noted that the amount of notice which is practical to give may be less as, for example, juniors may not have access to rotas as far in advance as other staff.
  • Consultant staff in England are required under the new contract to give a minimum of two months' notice of leave requests.


Carry over of annual leave entitlement

In most employers, the amount of annual leave that may be carried over at the end of the leave year will be limited to five days or less. You should check your own contract or employers local policy on this. There is, however, a requirement under the Working Time Regulations for a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave to be taken in each leave year and so all employees will be expected to take this amount of leave as a minimum.

It should also be noted that a European Court of Justice ruling established that where staff are absent from work on long term sick leave and are thus unable to take the statutory minimum level of leave (ie 5.6 weeks per annum), they must then be entitled to carry over the difference between annual leave taken in the year and the statutory minimum level of leave into the next holiday. Should they subsequently leave their employment, the amount of annual leave outstanding and paid in lieu on termination will include this amount of carried over entitlement.

For consultants, Schedule 18, paragraph 6 of the 2003 TCS states that carrying over annual leave is subject to the General Council Conditions of Service. These conditions include a provision which states that ‘Subject to the exigencies of the service up to 5 days annual leave may be carried forward on application and taken in the ensuing leave year.’ We would expect this to be observed in all but exceptional instances which would need to be clearly justified.


Rolled up holiday pay

All employees and workers are entitled to statutory paid annual leave. This currently stands at 5.6 weeks, or 28 days, per annum (these 28 days can include public holidays). The same is true for locum doctors, who should on a pro rata basis receive the above annual leave entitlement. Additionally, after 12 weeks of working for the same employer, as a worker you are entitled to the same benefits afforded to someone employed directly by that employer.

Some locums don’t receive an annual leave entitlement from the employers they are working for, in part due to the practical difficulties associated with working on a short-term, or intermittent, basis. To compensate locums for their annual leave entitlement, whether statutory or contractual, some employers use a practice called ‘rolled-up holiday pay’.

This means that instead of providing you with the option to take paid annual leave, your employer has ‘rolled-up’ the pay you would have been entitled to, in lieu of annual leave, into the agreed rate for your services. This means that you should be at no financial disadvantage when you decide to not undertake work, as you have already received payment for the equivalent annual leave you would have used.

The ECJ (European Court of Justice) ruled in March 2006 that the practice of ‘rolled-up holiday pay’ was unlawful, as it could lead to workers feeling unable to take their statutory annual leave, and therefore contravene the Working Time Directive. However, in some cases being paid in this way may be attractive to employees, and there can be an exception to this ruling if employers use rolled up holiday pay clearly and transparently. This means that on your payslip it should clearly distinguish between pay for your service and payment for annual leave, by having them as two distinct amounts.

This practice may be beneficial to you when undertaking locum work. If you are working for a given employer only briefly it might be difficult to arrange leave, so you may find it easier to automatically receive pay in lieu of leave, and to receive this benefit immediately instead of having to wait for it to accrue.

If you undertake locum work, ensure that your employer is aware of your statutory entitlement to annual leave, or compensation in reflection of this, as well as your entitlement to equal treatment after 12 weeks of service. If they are planning to use the practice of rolled up holiday pay, they should make you aware of this from the start.

When you receive your first payslip you should ensure any rolled-up holiday pay is clearly distinguished as a separate amount, rather than being included in the total amount you are being paid. If you aren’t sure, contact the BMA for advice.


Key documents to consult

The following key documents are likely to contain much of the information needed for leave queries

  • Your contract of employment
  • Relevant national terms and conditions of service
  • Relevant local agreements

The following legislation may also be relevant to leave queries

  • Working Time Regulations 1998
  • Employment Act 2002
  • Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002
  • Employment Relations Act 1999