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

Returning to work

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

When you return to work after maternity leave, employers are obliged to make suitable provisions for milk storage and breastfeeding.

As an employee and depending on your contract, you may have to return to work for a period of at least 3 months in order to keep any contractual maternity leave that you have received. Read more in the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.

If following maternity or adoption leave you return to a different practice or a different NHS employer, you may still be entitled to keep your contractual maternity pay. Read more in the BMA’s Salaried GPs Handbook.

When returning from maternity or adoption leave you are entitled to return to the same job if you return on or before the conclusion of the period of ‘ordinary’ maternity/adoption leave (26 weeks). If you take ‘additional’ maternity / adoption leave, then you are entitled to the same or similar job with no less favourable terms and conditions.

If you are offered a partnership to commence on your return to work at a different practice, you could be liable to repay your maternity leave payments. (See Case 4)

You may wish to discuss flexible working options with your employer or an application to the GP Retention Scheme. You may also wish to speak to your employer about the possibility of receiving mentoring from another GP within the practice, with dedicated time set aside each week.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has brought in temporary tax-free childcare measures. If you are eligible, the new rules may allow you to receive up to 30 hours per week of free childcare. You can read more about these temporary measures and eligibility on the government website.

Childcare vouchers are not available to new applicants, but information for those already in receipt of them can be found on the government website.

If you decide to take additional time out from work, keep in mind that GPs who do not work in the NHS for a period of 2 years may be required to apply for the GP Induction & Refresher scheme in order to return to the medical performers list.

If you are considering taking additional time out from work, contact the BMA to see advice on how this may affect your period of continuous NHS service. BMA members can also make use of the BMA’s contract checking service.