Junior doctors guide to industrial action in England

Leave

Updated: Friday 16 February 2024

Refusal of leave

Employers should not refuse your leave due to strike action. We have been informed recently of some trusts seeking to blanket reject requests for annual leave from junior doctors.

It is in the interest of trusts to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their staff and ensure the continued safety of patients by allowing junior doctors to take their full annual leave (schedule 10 paragraphs 1 and 18). This is also in the best interests of the junior doctors themselves.

Both employers and junior doctors as employees must make every effort to work together to ensure that junior doctors are able to take the full annual leave entitlement. Rejecting out of hand requests to take annual leave fundamentally undermines this process. Where possible, the employer should, respond positively to all leave requests and should normally agree reasonable requests (schedule 10, paragraph 15).

Leave due a life-changing event

As laid out in your terms and conditions of service (schedule 10, paragraph 16), employers must allow annual leave to be taken when it has been requested for a life-changing event as long as you have given six weeks’ notice to your employer. A refusal from your employer to agree to such request they will be in breach of contract and you should contact the BMA for advice immediately.

Leave cancellation

Employers will have advance notice of strike days and should make arrangements which do not involve cancelling annual leave to ensure continuation of services to patients. As such, it should not be necessary for employers to try to cancel your leave. Seeking to cancel annual leave should be a last resort only after all other options have been considered and exhausted. If your employer seeks to cancel pre-booked leave, you should get in touch with BMA advisers directly on 0300 123 1233.

Time out of Training (TOOT)

  1. For those in Foundation Year 1 and 2, if you take more than 20 days out of training (when you would normally be at work), this may lead to a review of overall performance and achievement of curricular outcomes, but does not mean an automatic extension to training. Provided that outcomes are being met, there would be no justification to extend training as a result of taking industrial action.
  2. For those in Core/Speciality training, if you take more than 14 days out of training (when you would normally be at work), this may lead to a review of overall performance and achievement of curricular outcomes. Provided that outcomes are being met, there would be no justification to extend core training programme end dates, or CCT dates, as a result of taking industrial action.

FY1s generally must complete 12 months of training (full time equivalent) before being eligible for a Certificate of Experience and to apply for full GMC registration. The GMC supports foundation school directors implementing this requirement flexibly to reflect (including in any reviews) the nature and history of absence, the timing and the effect of the absence on achieving the necessary outcomes. The focus should be on meeting the outcomes and the competence required by FY1 doctors.

Read our full guidance

Study leave

If you have planned study leave which falls on a strike day, that won't be impacted by industrial action (e.g. external courses, conferences), you should be able to undertake your study leave as planned. However, if your study leave was related to clinical work in hospital (e.g. taster days in other specialities) we recommend to consider rescheduling your study time to a period when it is not impacted by industrial action and when you can better use it as it is meant to be used.

Still have questions?

 

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Or contact our member relations team at [email protected] if you have a question about your personal circumstances.