BMA wins significant legal battle against UK Government

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 12 February 2021

The BMA has won a significant legal battle, preventing a cap being placed on exit payments1 made to public sector workers.

Last year the Government sought to bring in legislation which would have capped public sector exit payments to ninety-five thousand pounds (£95,000.) The BMA challenged the regulations that were put before Parliament on the grounds they were unlawful and would have far reaching consequences. 

Today’s decision by the Government to scrap the regulations comes after the BMA was given permission, last month, to proceed with a judicial review and it is clear that common sense has prevailed and the BMA’s intervention has saved many public sector workers – including doctors – from unfair and unlawful rules and particularly at a time when many are giving so much to the care of the nation.  

Although there are limits already in place to limit exit payments for public sector workers, the proposed changes attempted to include payments that may have resulted from matters which occurred during the time a person was employed – these could include compensation payments for race or sex discrimination cases for example. Indeed, the regulations also sought to override accrued contractual entitlements, something which the BMA told Government infringed our members’ human rights and which was beyond the intention of the enabling legislation.

Furthermore, the proposals were exceedingly complex and administratively burdensome as all exiting public sector workers were obligated to calculate the amount of payment that they were due and advise their employer accordingly. For doctors, who were the largest single group within the NHS affected by the proposed cap, this was especially problematic as they would have to calculate any amounts they were owed from undertaking extra shifts covering for absences. For junior doctors, on rotation who regularly move jobs, the situation was even more complex. 

At a time when the NHS is under such strain, the last thing that was needed for doctors is to face more administrative burden and the scrapping of these proposals following the BMA’s legal challenge is welcome news. 


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Exit payments include redundancy payments, severance packages, pension strain costs, and other payments made as a result of terminating employment.