Work scheduling guidance

We answer your frequently asked questions about work scheduling - what it includes, how one is agreed, when to submit one, and how to change it and incorporate your rota.

Location: England
Audience: Junior doctors
Updated: Friday 3 November 2023
Working hours article illustration

A work schedule is a document setting out the work commitments and training outcomes in your job.

It is a single source for all the information you need, from the details of your supervisors, your pay, your working hours and what training you will be doing.

A work schedule includes a copy of the rolling rota you will be working to. It will usually apply for the duration of a training placement.


What should a work schedule include?

A work schedule should provide the name and contact details for your guardian of safe working hours, who will be copied in to any exception reports you submit and can be contacted with any concerns about your working hours and/or training opportunities that can’t be resolved by speaking to your supervisor.

It should also provide details of other useful contacts, such as your clinical lead, rota coordinator and medical workforce department.

NHS Employers have produced template work schedules for the 2016 contract, as well as sample work schedules which can be used as examples.


How is a work schedule agreed?

Your employer will prepare a generic version which will be sent to you in advance of you starting in the post.

Then, in your first meeting with your educational supervisor, you will discuss the schedule and personalise it further for you, according to your needs.

The final work schedule has to be agreed between both of you, so if there is anything you aren’t happy with, the guardian can step in to oversee the disagreement and find a resolution.

The contract specifies that the employer must take adequate account of reasonable requests from you when agreeing the work schedule, to ensure your work and training fits around your life.

For example, if you have caring responsibilities, you can raise this in the work schedule discussion and work with your employer to ensure the schedule is compatible with this as much as possible.


When should I submit an exception report?

The work schedule should be detailed, as this will form the basis of how you manage your working hours and training needs through exception reporting.

An exception report can be submitted any time your actual work differs from the work schedule, either in terms of your working hours or the training you are meant to be doing.


How does it incorporate my rota?

The schedule should include a rolling rota template, from which you can easily check whether or not the rota complies with the various hours, limits and rest requirements in the TCS.

If you’re concerned about your rota’s compliance, you can share the rolling rota template with the BMA by emailing it to [email protected].

You will separately receive a populated duty roster, which will be more detailed and can include the names of your colleagues sharing the rota, leave days and swaps. This should be received at least 6 weeks before you are due to start in the post.


Self development time for F1 and F2 doctors

Can I change my work schedule?

A work schedule can be changed where needed, and if you end up exception reporting because your actual work frequently varies from what was planned in your schedule, you may want to sit down with your supervisor and amend the schedule to make it fit for purpose.

Your employer may need to make changes to a work schedule during the placement if there are significant changes in the facilities, resources or services. Every effort should be made to anticipate such changes in the work schedule and reach agreement on them with you.


What if I work or train in general practice?

If you're in a general practice training programme and working in a general practice setting, your work schedule should reflect the 2012 COGPED guidance or successor document on the session split.

The BMA, through its GP registrars committee, has agreed guidance with NHS Employers and COGPED on work scheduling for GP registrars, as well as a template and example work schedules.

These reinforce important elements of the existing COGPED guidance about GP training, and are available on the NHS Employers website (under the 'Resources relating to GP training' section).

NHSE have produced the following guidance documents for GP registrars: