Maternity leave for GPs

This page explains maternity leave entitlements for GP principals, GP registrars and salaried GPs.

Location: UK
Audience: GPs
Updated: Friday 3 November 2023
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GP principals

GP principals are self-employed and are therefore not subject to the NHS Scheme nor the statutory provisions that would apply to employees.

For GMS practices*, where a partnership employs a locum to cover an absent partner on maternity leave or paternity leave, they will be entitled to claim a payment from the primary care organisation towards the cost of that locum (for more information please read the supplement).

PMS practices will need to reach agreement with their primary care organisation.

*Statement of Financial Entitlements, Part 4, Section 15


GP registrars

GP registrars 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 registrarship 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 registras 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 registrar 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 registrar 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 registrar entitlements are in line with the NHS Scheme.

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


Not on the NHS scheme

Where there is no specific reference in the GP registrar 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 registrars are entitled to the minimum statutory provisions. Although the provisions in the Directions are not entitlements, both the trainer and registrar 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 registrar.


Salaried GPs

The salaried GP handbook is a valuable resource for salaried GPs and GP employers, covering everything from legal entitlements to maternity leave, redundancy and employment protection.