A guide for GPs - maternity and other types of parental leave

During pregnancy

Location: UK
Audience: GPs
Updated: Thursday 2 May 2024
Topics: Maternity, paternity and adoption

You are entitled to paid time off for antenatal appointments.

Read about partners’ and fathers’ rights to attend appointments.

Pregnancy sickness and early birth rules:

  • If you are sick with an illness that is not pregnancy-related, the normal sickness provisions will apply until either the week before the baby is due or the date chosen as the start of your maternity leave.
  • If you are sick with an illness that is pregnancy-related, the normal sickness provisions will apply prior to the beginning of the fourth week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • If you are sick with an illness that is pregnancy-related after the beginning of the fourth week before the expected week of childbirth, or you give birth early, your maternity leave will automatically begin the day after your first day of absence within this period.

Employers have a duty to ensure your health and safety at work during pregnancy, and you can read about the relevant regulations on the Health and Safety Executive website. It is advisable to have your employer carry out two risk assessments; early in your pregnancy and then again in the later stages. It is important to consider;

  • Will your current working space be suitable for you in later pregnancy?
  • How will risk of infection from COVID-19 affect your work during pregnancy? The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has highlighted the importance of women stringently adhering to social distancing from 28 weeks of pregnancy. Read more about COVID-19 risk assessments.
  • Will you require additional space to carry out certain procedures (e.g. coil fitting)?
  • Are you at risk from chemicals that could be harmful during pregnancy?
  • You may need to avoid patients with certain illnesses that could be harmful during pregnancy (e.g. a home visit to a child with an undetermined illness and rash.)

If your baby is born prematurely, you are entitled to the same amount of maternity leave and pay as if your baby was born at full term. Read more about this and what happens in cases of miscarriage and still births.

You may be able to access local GP maternity workshops which can help you to make plans. Contact your local medical committee to find out about any workshops that run in your area.

The BMA’s maternity leave checklist can help you to prepare for your period of leave.


Case 3 - Your right to attend appointments


Dr S is a salaried GP who works 4 sessions per week. She is pregnant with twins which means she needs to attend frequent antenatal appointments and scans. She notifies her employers of the appointment dates which fall on her working days and they ask her to make up the time on her non-working days. Should Dr S agree to this?


No. Dr S has exactly the same rights to attend antenatal classes as a full-time worker. Neither full-time, nor less-than-full-time employees are required to make up time for attending antenatal classes or scans.