The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that salaried GPs in England can now access enhanced shared parental leave above statutory pay.
The new enhanced system, which will be offered at general medical services (GMS) and some personal medical services practices (PMS), allows for up to 50 out of 52 weeks of maternity leave to be shared between parents. It also enables those eligible to share up to 37 weeks of statutory shared parental pay, equivalent to statutory maternity pay.
Salaried GPs can now request for the new form of leave to be included in their contracts, which is what junior doctors and Agenda for Change staff are currently entitled to do.
According to the BMA, the move to a more flexible form of leave supports its commitment to addressing the gender pay gap and makes it fairer for parents to genuinely take the option of shared parental leave.
Updated BMA guidance stated that enhanced shared parental leave pay entitlement for those who are eligible for statutory shared leave includes six weeks of full pay including statutory pay, 18 weeks of half pay plus statutory pay, 13 weeks at statutory pay and 13 weeks unpaid.
Sarah Westerbeek, a sessional GP committee member and a BMA equalities champion, explained that the idea behind this is to create more flexibility for parents in terms of childcare and work, as figures show that maternity leave is a pivotal time during which the gender pay gap can develop.
“Increased flexibilities around caring for a newborn or adopted child will help reduce this gap. We have also created a template letter for your employer to sign and to inform them of the recent agreements, in order to amend your current contract of employment,” she said.
A BMA article stated that the BMA sessional GPs committee has been lobbying for the past few years for salaried GPs to be offered enhanced pay for shared parental leave and now there is confirmation that this can be offered by GMS and certain PMS practices.
The General Pharmaceutical Council is set to issue guidance for practices about what the changes will mean for them as employers.