As you may be aware, in 2015 the Government brought in regulations to allow parents, who meet certain eligibility criteria, to share the mother’s maternity leave by converting it to shared parental leave.
The idea being to create more flexibility for parents in terms of childcare and work.
Figures show that when women take maternity leave, it is a pivotal time during which the gender pay gap can develop.
Increased flexibilities around caring for a newborn or adopted child will help reduce this gap.
Shared parental leave allows for up to 50 weeks of the 52 weeks maternity leave, to be shared between the parents. Eligible parents are also able to share up to 37 weeks of statutory shared parental pay (equivalent of statutory maternity pay).
However, until now, for most salaried GPs it was financially beneficial for mothers to take their full maternity leave and pay, as in most cases this was paid at an enhanced rate (ie more than statutory pay) by their employers, whereas shared parental leave was paid at statutory rates.
The BMA sessional GPs committee has been lobbying for the past few years for salaried GPs to be offered enhanced pay for shared parental leave.
Thankfully, we now have confirmation that this can be offered by employers (GMS and certain PMS practices).
These changes, which offer enhanced shared parental leave and pay to salaried GPs, will bring us in line with junior doctors and Agenda for Change staff who already have these entitlements.
We have been in regular discussion with the BMA GPs committee in order to agree this and amendments have been made to the salaried GP handbook to outline the entitlements.
We have also created a template letter for your employer to sign and to inform them of the recent agreements, in order to amend your current contract of employment.
The GPs committee is also issuing guidance for employers/practices about what the changes will mean for them.
You are able to check whether you and your partner are eligible for shared parental leave and pay through the Government website, and if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact the BMA member relations team.
Sarah Westerbeek is a sessional GP committee member and a BMA equalities champion