England Leave

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Study, professional and special leave

This is applicable to England

Study and professional leave

Career grades and general practitioners

Professional or study leave is granted for career grade hospital doctors and general practitioners - including salaried general practitioners - for postgraduate purposes and is approved by the employing authority. It covers study, research, teaching, examining or taking examinations, visiting clinics and attending professional conferences.

For all career grade doctors, it is recommended that a maximum of 30 days study and professional leave should be granted with paid leave and expenses within each three-year period. Some Trusts or Boards will interpret this as 10 days per year. Check local agreements as appropriate.

Previously, entitlements to study and professional leave applied to UK based courses, seminars, etc., but this has now been extended to cover any study leave within the EU. Applications for study or professional leave outwith the EU will normally be judged on their own merits and there is no specific entitlement to paid time off or expenses for such requests.


Factors to be taken into account when considering study leave applications

  • Once a study leave application is accepted then employers must pay all reasonable expenses associated with that period of leave.
  • Many employers will have 'capped' study leave budgets, but in most cases the agreed procedure will allow for payment of all expenses, so local policies should be checked where partial funding of course and/or restrictions on expenses are being proposed for approved study leave. It is worth noting, however, that the DoH has said that it is unreasonable for employers to pre-determine the level of expenses which they are prepared to approve in connection with study leave applications.
  • The right to take study leave should not depend on the employer's financial position. Employers should accept the natural consequences of granting study leave and pay all reasonable expenses associated with a period of approved study leave.
  • Employers should not turn down study leave applications on non-educational, including financial, grounds.
  • Study leave should not be used for inappropriate purposes, for example attending advisory appointments committees.

Where study leave claims are turned down or expenses not paid, employees have a number of options open to them, including pursuing the issue of non-payment of expenses to the county court.

Additionally, cases may be pursued as a formal grievance in accordance with the local grievance procedure (either through the employer or the Deanery or Director of Postgraduate Education for juniors).


GP trainees

Please see separate leave entitlement


Special leave

Special leave may be granted for any reason, but it is always at the discretion of the employer. For those on national terms and conditions of service, the provisions of the GWC handbook (or its successor) will apply and these specify that:

  • Special leave with pay may be granted for compassionate purposes, absence from duty following contact with a notifiable disease, caring for a dependent relative, adoption and leave for magisterial duties (for a period not exceeding 18 days in any 12 months).
  • Special leave without pay may be granted, for example, to apply for posts outside the NHS or to pursue parliamentary candidature.

Special leave is not an entitlement and is used in exceptional circumstances. It may be granted under certain circumstances only and whether this will be with or without pay will be a matter for negotiation with the employer.