SAS Doctors guide to strike action in Wales

Pay and Pensions

Updated: Friday 5 April 2024


Pay deductions

You will not be entitled to be paid for any day on which you were due to be working but take industrial action.

We know that it is hard to lose income. However, if we do not fight to defend our pay now, we could stand to lose a lot more in the future.

The Welsh Government is giving us no alternative. It was made clear in our negotiations that 5% was the first and final offer for SAS doctors on the 2008 contracts with even less for those on the 2021 contracts. We need to send a message that we will defend our pay both now and in the future. However, if you feel that you are unable to take part in industrial action because of financial issues, . We do have a strike fund which is available from the second round of strike action. The purpose of the fund is to make payments to doctors who would not otherwise be able to afford to participate in industrial action due to loss of pay. Read more about the BMA strike fund.

Annual leave or uncontracted day

If you are on annual leave or an uncontracted day on a day when industrial action is taking place, your employer must not deduct your pay. This is the case even if you partake in picketing. You should not be called in to provide cover.

Maternity leave

Read our section on strike action and maternity pay.

Calculating pay deductions

The process for calculating pay deductions used by NHS Wales employers during the junior doctor strike action was that for each day of strike action, monthly pay was reduced by 1/31, 1/29 or 1/30 depending upon the month action took place. We anticipate the same method will be used during any SAS doctor action.

Note also that this only applies to days when you are actually striking from job-planned duties.  This would include supporting professional activity duties sessions but it does not apply to uncontracted sessions, non-working days or days of leave that overlap with the period of industrial action. 

One shift equals one day

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.

When to expect the deductions

It is unlikely that your pay would be deducted on the same month as you took the relevant industrial action. This is because it takes some time to record the activity and for the necessary arrangements on the system to be made by payroll. It is important to your payslip each month to ensure that this deduction has been applied correctly.

'Christmas Day’ cover deductions

Industrial action might mean that you change the way you work on a day of action. For example, if you have a clinic and are due to be on-call, our advice is that you should only perform ‘Christmas Day’ cover. There is a risk that your employer may seek to deduct pay in this circumstance as they have the right to do so. We do not expect this to be a common occurrence as this could encourage SAS doctors to refuse to be on-call and would not be in the interests of employers (more advice on on-call arrangements can be found in our guidance on action on the day).

Sick pay and SAS doctor industrial action

Workers who are absent on sick leave when industrial action takes place keep their right to sick pay.

Employers can be expected to make their own judgement as to how to regard your absence if you call in sick on a day of action. 

Some employers in England have tried to introduce special rules about sick certificates in the event of sick leave during industrial action. This is because they believe that these are exceptional circumstances. Some contracts may include a clause specifying this. If there is not an express provision in contracts, then your employer may try to refer to their own industrial action reporting procedures. If this is the case at your workplace, your LNC (local negotiating committee) should inform us. We will take the matter up with management.


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.

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.