Junior doctors guide to industrial action in England

Pay and pensions

Updated: Tuesday 21 May 2024


If you are due to be on shift and take industrial action

You will not get paid. We encourage you to begin planning ahead for the period of industrial action and to begin to save.

If you are on annual leave or zero hours

The trust must not deduct your pay. This is even if you partake in picketing. You should not be called in.

If you are due to go on maternity leave

Read our section on strike action and maternity pay.

If you cannot afford to lose pay

We encourage you to begin planning ahead for the likelihood of industrial action and to begin to save.

Successful industrial action may require repeated or long periods of strike action. By planning ahead and saving, you can help to minimise the negative impact of losing pay. This will enable you to take part in industrial action in a way that is sustainable for you. The BMA is exploring options to support any member who faces financial hardship as a result of strike action.


Defending pay


We know that it is hard to lose income. Any day you strike you will lose pay. If we do not fight to defend our pay now, we could stand to lose a lot more in the future.

The Government are giving us no alternative. We need to send a message that we will defend our pay both now and in the future. If you feel that you are unable to take part in industrial action as a consequence of financial issues, we would encourage you to make the best decision for yourself and your family.​

Calculating pay deductions

NHS Employers have published advice to trusts (see 'Pay and contract FAQs' on the NHS Employers industrial action hub page) that the pay deduction calculation for employers to use should be the equivalent of 1/365th of annual salary for each day striking, or an hourly calculation rate that crucially must be no greater a deduction than the 1/365th figure. 

Note also that this only applies to days when a junior doctor is actually striking from rostered duties - it does not apply to non-working days, 'zero days' or days of leave that overlap with the strike period. 

We expect a single shift to be treated as a single day for deduction purposes. This is regardless of whether it straddles one or two calendar days. So those working night shifts should not suffer greater pay deduction than colleagues working days

If your employer seeks to deduct pay in any other way than we've set out, please refer your them to the NHS Employers advice they will have received. If you have any further issues, please contact us for support.


Impact of industrial action on your pension 

When a member takes strike action, it is typical that they would not be paid for that day. Therefore, no service or pay accrues towards your pension benefits, and the day(s) are disallowed, and therefore effectively ignored from active service. This is confirmed in guidance by NHSBSA.

Impact for members with service in the 1995/2008 pension schemes

The way final pensionable pay is calculated that, on the date of retirement, there is a countback of three lots of 365 days of active service. The highest of these 365 days is your pensionable final pay. If there are strike days, they do not form part of your active service and, therefore, these days are ignored and, consequently, this count back period will be increased by the corresponding number of strike days you have taken. Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, there will be no impact whatsoever on final salary pension.

The only exception to this is if you have had a significant pay rise in the last 12 months before retirement. In this situation, the 365 day countback period would ignore strike days paid at the higher level of pay and, therefore, the countback would potentially extend to include a period of working days before the pay rise was in place. This may reduce the level of final pensionable pay. This however can be fully mitigated by delaying retirement by the corresponding number of days you took strike action to ensure you have the full 365 days at the higher pay level.

Impact on members with membership of the 2015 pension scheme

The 2015 pension scheme is different, as your pension is based on 1/54 of your actual pensionable pay for each year. If you take strike action, you will typically not be paid for these days, they will be ignored or disallowed, and your actual pensionable pay for that year will be reduced. Consequently, the pension you accrue for that year will be reduced. The overall impact of this however is small.

Further general points

It is worth remembering that as the 1995, 2008, and 2015 pension schemes are based on your level of pensionable pay, any rise in pensionable pay achieved through action will have a very significant impact on the total amount of your pension in increasing this. In addition, disallowed days cannot be repurchased, but additional pension benefits can be improved if required by buying additional pension, as set out here.

If you require any further information, please contact the BMA.

Still have questions?


If you can't find the information you need in this guide, send us your questions here and we will add the answers to these pages.


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