Senior doctors are being forced to bargain their existing contractual rights for access to newly enhanced rules on shared parental leave, the BMA has warned.
Consultants and staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors have been told that new rules on shared parental leave will not apply to them unless they are willing to trade on their existing contractual rights, including redundancy pay.
The changes, which were introduced at the start of this month, mean that junior doctors across England will now be able to access occupational pay when sharing leave.
Although the change was meant to apply to all NHS staff, consultants and SAS doctors have been advised that their access to the new rules is contingent on accepting restrictions on how redundancy payments are calculated.
BMA consultants committee and SAS committee chairs Rob Harwood and Amit Kochhar have jointly written to health secretary Matt Hancock stating that the approach being taken was punitive and needed to be urgently resolved.
They said: ‘As you are aware, from 1 April shared parental pay in England has been enhanced to the same levels as occupational maternity and adoption pay. This is an important first step towards addressing the imbalance in unpaid caring responsibilities between men and women, a key contributor to the gender pay gap currently under significant scrutiny in the NHS.
‘Whilst the BMA was pleased to welcome this news, we have been shocked, as chairs of the consultants and SAS doctors’ committees, that the enhanced pay for shared parental leave – which has equality at its heart – is being withheld from senior doctors in exchange for acquiescence to punitive changes concerning entirely unrelated employment conditions.’
They added: ‘It is difficult to understand why two staff groups – consultants and SAS doctors – should be required to bargain for a contractual right freely given to all other staff groups.
‘Despite multiple attempts by the BMA to raise this matter with your department and NHS Employers, our concerns have not been addressed and so we write to you now to outline, in the strongest terms, how important it is that this disparity is resolved without delay.’
The changes to shared parental leave, which will also allow juniors who have not accrued 26 weeks of continuous employment with their employers to qualify, are viewed by the BMA as a vitally important step towards tackling inequality and the gender pay gap in the NHS.
Find out more about the new rules around shared parental leave
Find out about the BMA's work on the gender pay gap
Read the letter
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