GP trainee annual leave, sick leave and study leave

We provide guidance to GP trainees on their annual leave entitlements.

Location: UK
Audience: GPs Junior doctors
Last reviewed: 7 September 2020
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Annual leave

As a GP trainee you are an important part of the practice team, but you are supernumerary to the workforce of the practice. At no point should the effective running of the practice be dependent on your attendance and you will not be used as a substitute for a locum in the practice.

Those working in supernumerary placements must not be integral to the running of the service, and so where a trainee has requested leave with six weeks’ notice this should be permitted.


Sick leave

If you are absent from the practice due to illness, you must inform the practice as soon as practicable on the first day.

A self-certification form should be completed for any sickness absence lasting for seven days or less. If the illness continues beyond seven days, a medical certificate should be completed.

This guidance note is intended to clarify sick leave arrangements in line with the Framework Contract agreed between GPC and COGPED. If you are in an area where your contract is with a lead employer or your contract is not based on the framework contract then it will be particularly important to ensure that you are familiar with any local arrangements.

Sick leave of up to two weeks

For this short period of leave, the length of the training programme should not be affected.

Sick leave over two weeks

These provisions now mirror the entitlements for junior hospital doctors and came into effect from November 2003. Further details can be found in the Directions to employers concerning GP trainees on the NHS Employer’s website.

The provisions for payments to GP registrars during sickness should be made on the basis of the number of years of service with the NHS and the number of months of sickness leave and are set out below:

  • First year of service: One month's full pay and (after completing four months' service), two months' half pay.
  • Second year of service: Two months' full pay and two months' half pay.
  • Third year of service: Four months' full pay and four months' half pay
  • Fourth year of service: Five months' full pay and five months' half pay
  • Fifth year of service: Five months' full pay and five months' half pay
  • Sixth year of service+: Six months' full pay and six months' half pay

The training period will generally need to be extended if sick leave exceeds two weeks. With the training programme director’s agreement, this can be completed in the GP trainee’s current post. GP registrars are advised to contact their local postgraduate dean’s office for individual guidance.


Study leave

Study leave enables you as a trainee to direct your own learning, meet your educational needs as set out in your personal development plan, and cover the wide range of knowledge and skills required by the RCGP curriculum.

National standards on study leave can be found in the GMC publication Generic standards for specialty including GP training. Deanery organised teaching as part of a GP training programme GP training programmes tend to include regular teaching sessions to help trainees cover the curriculum.

There are a number of non-standard terms that may be used across the deaneries to describe these deanery-organised locally-provided specialty-specific educational sessions. These teaching sessions may be funded by taking part of the individual trainee’s study budget allowance.

Similarly, deanery or training programme organised training sessions are often taken from trainees study leave allocation. This may form a substantial part of the study leave allocation so trainees are advised to check with their deanery so they know how many days of study leave they have remaining.


Time management away from the workplace

Trainees must be supplied with straightforward instructions on how to apply for study leave. This may be available online or trainees may be sent this information once they have been accepted onto a training programme.

It is therefore advisable to make the request for study leave at the beginning of the placement or with an appropriate period of notice. It is good practice to seek support from your educational supervisor before you apply for study leave even when it is not mandatory.

Where a trainee attends a course outside their working hours (eg at a weekend, or in the evening after work) this should not be deducted from their annual study leave entitlement.

The GMC publication Generic standards for specialty including GP training states:

6.19 Trainees must be made aware how to apply for study leave and be guided as to appropriate courses and funding.

6.20 Trainees must be able to take study leave up to the maximum permitted in their terms and conditions of service.

6.21 The process for applying for study leave must be fair and transparent, and information about a deanery-level appeals process must be readily available.

Approval is likely to be required for all study leave. Depending on local guidance, this may need to be sought from one or more of Training Programme Director (TPD), Educational Supervisor (ES) and Clinical Supervisor (CS).


Study leave request process

The TPD has a responsibility for all the educational activities, trainees should be able to attend educational sessions that are part of the specialty training programme. Where attendance at any number of these sessions is mandated then any audit of applications for leave should reflect this.

Study leave is regulated and GP trainees should have employment contracts that stipulate annual study leave entitlement (for example 30 days per year). However most trainees will rotate through two or more placements per year when in hospital posts and therefore should negotiate their study leave allocation across the year with their clinical and education supervisors, rota co-ordinators, medical staffing and the Postgraduate Medical Education Department.

As part of the request process, it may also be necessary to request fees and other expenses associated with a study event. Trainees should also be aware that they make have to book a place on some study events. It is important that study leave is not be used to satisfy the employer’s requirements for mandatory training.


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