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

Leave entitlements

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

Whether you are looking into maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave, it is important that you understand your entitlements. This section focuses on rights for employees.

Read information for GP partners and locums.

Compulsory leave

Compulsory maternity leave applies to all employees and means that women who have given birth are not allowed to work during the 2 weeks following childbirth.

Statutory leave

Statutory maternity leave entitles you to 52 weeks’ leave regardless of how long you have worked for your employer. This is split into two periods with variations in entitlements for employee and employer.

  • Weeks 1 to 26 - Ordinary leave
  • Weeks 27-52 - Additional leave

Differences between these leave periods will be referenced throughout this guide and more detailed information about these periods of maternity and adoption leave can be found in the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.


Surrogates have the same leave entitlements as other women who give birth.

Statutory adoption leave

Statutory adoption leave only applies in certain types of adoption

The entitlement works in the same ways as for maternity leave, as outlined above.

Only one person can be ‘the adopter’ and entitled to the statutory period of leave, however a partner may be eligible to claim statutory paternity leave and pay, or shared parental leave. This also applies in cases of surrogacy.

Read our guidance on adoption leave entitlements and download the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.

Paternity leave

Paternity leave is not exclusive to male employees and can be taken for 1 week or 2 consecutive weeks.

Qualification is dependent on a number of factors including a period of continuous employment with the same employer.

The employee must have responsibility for the upbringing of the child, and be the partner, father or civil partner of the child’s mother/adopter.

Read our guidance on paternity leave entitlements and download the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.

Shared parental leave (SPL)

Shared parental leave provides eligible parents with a statutory right that is designed to give parents more flexibility in how to share the care of their child in that first year following birth or adoption. Read more about eligibility and options.

Enhanced SPL

The enhanced SPL pay entitlement for those would meet the eligibility criteria for statutory SPL, is as follows:

  • 6 weeks’ full pay including statutory pay;
  • 18 weeks’ half pay plus statutory pay;
  • 13 weeks at statutory pay; and
  • 13 weeks that are unpaid.

As of 24 June 2021, Salaried GPs in England will be able to access enhanced shared parental leave. In addition, in March 2022 BMA Scotland and BMA Cymru Wales secured agreement for enhanced shared parental leave to be made available to Salaried GPs in Scotland and Wales.

This will be available to them through the incorporation of a contract variation, which GP practices have agreed upon request to incorporate into a Salaried GP's contract.

Please find the variations required for this to take place below:

Unpaid parental leave

Unpaid parental leave is available to all employees who have children and meet the criteria outlined on the government website.

Statutory parental bereavement leave

Statutory parental bereavement leave and pay may be available to you if your child dies before the age of 18 or if you have a stillbirth after 24 weeks for pregnancy. You can read more about this on the government website.

IVF or related sickness

There is no legal right for time off work for IVF treatment or related sickness. But your employer should treat your IVF appointments and any sickness the same as any other medical appointment or sickness. You can read more about this on the ACAS website.

Case 1 - Annual leave and bank holidays


Dr U is planning her maternity leave and wonders when it would be best to take her accrued annual leave?


Annual leave continues to accrue during your maternity leave. Dr U should agree with her employer a suitable way to take her accrued leave, which may be either before starting her maternity leave or following the end of her maternity leave period, prior to returning to work. This annual leave accrual is separate from your maternity leave and so your normal salary should be received when you take this leave.

For more information on this see the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook and on the government website.