Junior doctors leave (2016 terms and conditions)

This guidance explains the basic annual leave entitlements for junior doctors, including LTFT staff. It also provides details on fixed leave and what to do if you become sick while on annual leave.

Location: England
Audience: Junior doctors
Updated: Wednesday 2 February 2022
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Annual leave entitlement

The annual leave entitlement for a full-time junior doctor is as follows:

  • On first appointment to the NHS: 27 days
  • After five years’ completed NHS service: 32 days

Where your contract or placement is for less than 12 months, your leave entitlement is pro rata to
the length of the contract or placement. Annual leave for LTFT trainees will also be pro-rata.



It is in the interest of your health and wellbeing and the continued safety of patients in your care, that you take your full annual leave entitlement. Both you and your employer and the doctor must make every effort to work together to ensure that the you are able to take the full annual leave entitlement.

Your employer should, where possible, respond positively to all leave requests, and should normally agree reasonable requests. You should provide your employer with a minimum of six weeks’ notice to take annual leave.


Leave for life changing events

Employers must allow annual leave to be taken for life-changing events (as defined by the doctor), provided that the doctor has given a minimum six weeks’ notice.

This leave is separate to the leave already covered in Section 15 of the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service Handbook or local policies such as special leave or bereavement.


Payment for annual leave and purchasing additional leave

Payment for annual leave is calculated based on what you would have earned had you been at work, as determined by your work schedule, and on any reference period that may be applied locally.

Some employers may offer a local scheme which allows staff to purchase additional annual leave. If your wish to take advantage of a local scheme, all additional leave must be considered by HEE (local office) and agreed on behalf of the postgraduate dean.


Sickness whilst on leave

If you become ill whilst on annual leave, you should immediately notify their employer in accordance with your employer’s procedures. Your annual leave will be suspended from the date you notify your employer as long as you can provide a medical certificate.


Fixed leave

Fixed leave is where leave is built into the construction of the rota with days or weeks blocked out for each doctor in advance. This practice is not permitted under the 2016 TCS.

Your rota should also not be so restrictive in its design to give the appearance of fixed leave being incorporated into the rota, where there is little or no flexibility over when leave can be taken.

Where possible, rosters should be designed to contain periods of at least two or three consecutive weeks without shifts attracting enhancements or allowances, to provide doctors with the opportunity to take longer periods of leave


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