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

Notifying your practice and making plans

Location: UK
Audience: GPs
Updated: Friday 8 December 2023
Topics: Maternity, paternity and adoption

Leading up to your leave it may be helpful to draw up a short handover plan. This may include information for patients that you have been seeing on a regular basis and around any particular areas of responsibility that you hold in the practice. This will help to ensure that the transition to leave is as smooth as possible for you, your patients and the practice team.

Take some time to discuss your appraisal situation with your appraisal lead before going on maternity leave, adoption leave, or for a long period of shared parental leave. Consideration should be given to appraisal timing and how revalidation dates fit with the planned period of leave. During leave, employees are entitled to all their contractual rights except remuneration. This means that CPD entitlements continue to accrue. It is not compulsory to carry out CPD activity during your leave, but a pause in CPD work will require planning to ensure that you catch up after your leave. More information can be found in the BMA’s salaried GPs handbook.

Changes to appraisal and revalidation have been introduced as a result of COVID-19. You can read more about the changes on the AoMRC website and on the GMC website.

Whilst on leave your employer may make ‘reasonable contact’ with you to update you on work developments such as new job opportunities (as you would have the same right as everyone else to apply), Keeping in Touch Days (KIT), plans for your return to work and any other changes at work that could affect you. They might also contact you about social events.

To make sure that you do not miss out on important information that could affect you, it is a good idea to agree with your employer prior to going on leave, what type and frequency of contact you would consider reasonable. You can also decide how you’d like to be contacted (by telephone, email etc.).

Read more about this on the ACAS website.


Case 2 - Reasonable contact during parental leave


Dr P has been on adoption leave for 6 months. Over the past month, her practice manager has been telephoning her on a weekly basis seeking updates on when Dr P is thinking of returning to work. Dr P is not ready to return and is uncomfortable with the pressure that the practice is placing on her. What can she do?


It is not reasonable for an employer to make repeated and persistent contact to ask when you are returning to work. Dr P and the practice should have agreed prior to the adoption leave what would constitute reasonable contact and Dr P should remind the practice manager of what was agreed.


Maternity leave

You must inform your employer of your pregnancy no later than the end of the 15th week before the week in which the baby is due.

You will need to tell your employer that you intend to take maternity leave and the planned start date

Fill in a MATB1 form. This will be given to you by the midwife or doctor undertaking your antenatal care and will confirm the expected date of childbirth (EWC – expected week of confinement).

Following notification of your pregnancy your employer should carry out a risk assessment. It is particularly important that this is done at an early stage in view of the COVID 19 pandemic.

You may wish to inform your employer of your pregnancy sooner than 15 weeks to allow an early risk assessment to take place. You can read more about risk assessments in section 4 of this guide.

You may wish to arrange a further meeting with your employer before you start your maternity leave to discuss and agree any outstanding matters or handover arrangements. We would also advise that you confirm with your employer that they are going to provide you with written confirmation of your maternity leave, pay entitlements and details of any accrued annual leave you are entitled to.

The BMA’s Maternity leave calculator is available to BMA members and can help you to ensure you do not miss any important notification dates so you receive your correct entitlement.

Adoption leave

The statutory payments for adoption leave are the same as for statutory maternity payments and whilst the requirements are similar to those for maternity leave there are some differences. Read our adoption and surrogacy guidance and download the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.

Paternity leave

The required notification periods differ depending on whether the paternity leave is for the birth of child or adoption. Read our paternity leave guidance and download the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.

Shared Parental Leave

A specific set of notification requirements apply for SPL applications. Read more about SPL applications in our shared parental leave guidance, which also includes details of SPLIT days, which are the SPL equivalent of KIT days.