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


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

Your financial entitlements will depend on a range of factors. Finding the correct information can be tricky, so this section will show you where to find out the information that is relevant to you.


A GP who is employed under the Salaried GP model contract, or a contract including the same terms, is entitled to contractual maternity pay providing that she has 12 months of continuous NHS service at the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week for childbirth. More details about how this pay is made and how it relates to other maternity pay entitlements can be found in the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook. Read our guidance for more information about continuous service and maternity leave on the NHS scheme.

Employed GPs who are pregnant or have just given birth may be entitled to receive statutory maternity pay (SMP) from their employer for up to 39 weeks. Entitlement to this pay relies on certain on conditions being met, which you can read about in the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.

Employed GPs who do not qualify for SMP may be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA). You can read more about eligibility and allowance rates on the government website.

A GP who is not employed under the Salaried GP Model Contract must receive at least the statutory maternity provisions above. Their actual entitlement will depend on their contract and we recommend that the employees and employers use the model contract as a benchmark for making contractual enhancements to the minimum statutory maternity provisions.

If you are a member of the NHS Pension Scheme you can continue to be pensionable throughout any period of maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave. Read more about this on the BMA website and on the NHS Business Services Authority website.

Doctors who take parental leave while they are part of the GP Induction & Refresher Scheme are not employees but are categorised as self-employed. This means they are not entitled to any of the parental leave payments or allowances which apply to employees.

During parental leave, payments to GP practices through the GP retention scheme will continue. A GP on the scheme should therefore continue to receive the benefits of the scheme. Other parental leave pay entitlements will be in line with their contractual and statutory rights.

Find the latest rates for all of the above.

GP partners / employers

GP partners are self-employed and therefore may not be entitled to the same statutory provision that apply to employees. This means that leave and pay arrangements for maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave should be covered in the partnership agreement.

If you are contemplating a partnership it is important to pay close attention to the partnership agreement. Ensure that provisions for parental leave are discussed and mutually agreed, and only sign if you are content that the leave and pay provisions on offer will be suitable for any future needs. GPs should contact the BMA for advice on their contract.

It is usually the case that GP partners receive their full profit share during leave, however this stipulation should be included within the partnership agreement to ensure that all partners are clear about entitlements during any form of parental leave.

Practices with a GMS contract are entitled to reimbursement of the cost of GP locum cover while a salaried GP is on ordinary or additional maternity leave. Read our guidance on Locum GP cover for parental and sickness leave.

PMS practices should also have the benefit of the locum reimbursement included in their contract for services. It is important for the practice to check the contract, including the extent and level of reimbursement available. Practices should contact the BMA for advice if the contract is unclear.

All GMS (and PMS employers who have signed the NHS England Standard PMS Agreement 2015/16) who offer salaried employment to GPs must offer terms that are no less favourable than the model salaried GP contract. We recommend that all other employers should also offer terms that are no less favourable than the model salaried GP contract.

Locum GPs

Being self-employed, locum GPs are not entitled to statutory or contractual maternity pay. However, you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA). Read more about this on the government website.

GP registrar maternity entitlements

GP registrar who:

  • Complete at least 12 months continuous service with an NHS employer without a break of over three months immediately before the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • Continue to be employed by the GP trainer until immediately before the beginning of the 11th week prior to the expected week of childbirth
  • Notify the GP trainer, in writing, of their intention to take maternity leave and whether or not they intend to return to resume the traineeship with the same or another GP trainer after childbirth before the end of the 15th week before childbirth or if not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable
  • Submit to the GP trainer a statement from a registered medical practitioner or a certified midwife indicating the expected date of confinement no later than 21 days before the commencement of maternity leave, or if this is not possible as soon as it reasonably practicable

Are entitled to:

  • Eight weeks’ full pay; less any Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA) receivable (including any dependants’ allowances)
  • 18 weeks’ half pay; plus any SMP or MA receivable (including any dependants’ allowance) but not exceeding full pay.

Although there is no specific reference to statutory maternity pay in the Directions GP trainees will in addition be entitled to a further 13 weeks of SMP or MA if they fulfil the necessary criteria.

On the NHS scheme

The NHS Scheme applies to doctors on a GP Specialty Training Scheme (VTS) whilst they are undertaking the hospital part of their training or when they are undertaking training in a general practice they have a contract with a lead NHS Trust who will remain their employer. Employment as a GP trainee with a general medical practitioner will count for the length of service requirements. Similarly, when doing the general practice part of the training, previous hospital service may be taken into account in determining the length of service requirements.

Where a GP trainee undertaking the general practice part of their training has a contract of employment with the training practice the NHS scheme will not apply. However, although there is no automatic right to the NHS Scheme, there has been an historical agreement with the health department that GP trainee entitlements are in line with the NHS Scheme.

When employed by the practice the GP trainee entitlements will be laid down in the contract of employment, which in turn is governed by the Directions to Health Education England (GP trainees) 2013 and the NHS Litigation Authority (GP trainees) 2013.

Not on the NHS scheme

Where there is no specific reference in the GP trainee contract to either the General Whitley Council provisions or the NHS Scheme we would encourage GP specialty trainees to try to negotiate similar terms with their training practice to those applied to their hospital doctor colleagues in line with the previous historical arrangement, and at the very least the provisions in the Directions which are generally similar to the NHS Scheme provisions. GP trainers may need to discuss this with their primary care organisation in terms of the funding.

Where a GP trainer or a primary care organisation was not prepared to offer the NHS Scheme provisions because of the way the Directions were previously worded they should be advised that, like other employees, GP trainees are entitled to the minimum statutory provisions. Although the provisions in the Directions are not entitlements, both the trainer and trainee may be required to confirm that the arrangements made have been in accordance with the conditions in the Directions in order for the trainer to be reimbursed the cost of the allowance paid to the trainee.