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Scottish salaried GPs receive enhanced shared parental leave

by Julie Griffiths
18 July 2022

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Salaried GPs in Scotland are to get enhanced parental leave that they can share with their partners without financial penalty.

BMA Scotland described it as ‘a big win for salaried GPs in Scotland’ after ‘months of campaigning and working behind the scenes’.

The Scottish Government and BMA Scotland have now reached an agreement to implement enhanced shared parental leave (ESPL) for salaried GPs, in line with similar arrangements available in England since last summer. 

ESPL ensures that those on shared parental leave can access the same pay as an employee on maternity or adoption leave.

Since 2015, parents who meet the eligibility criteria could share maternity leave by converting it to shared parental leave.

But until the changes came in, doing so would have been financially detrimental for most parents. While mothers’ maternity leave was paid at an enhanced rate, shared parental leave was at statutory rates, the BMA said when it was launched in England last July.

BMA Scotland said: ‘ESPL provides greater flexibility to salaried GPs who are growing their families and will help to reduce the systemic bias in favour of parental leave being taken solely as maternity leave.’

The doctor’s body added that the agreement in Scotland was ‘a valuable opportunity to promote the uptake of ESPL in England, where it remains low’. 

The salaried GP handbook has now been updated to say: ‘ESPL pay entitlement for those who would meet the eligibility criteria for statutory SPL, is as follows:

– 6 weeks’ full pay including statutory pay and 18 weeks’ half pay plus statutory pay – 13 weeks at statutory pay, and

– 13 weeks that are unpaid.

The guidance also says that the Scottish Government has ‘confirmed to BMA Scotland that GP practices will be able to claim back locum cover costs for enhanced shared parental leave, as for maternity cover, as set out in the Statement of Financial Entitlements’.

The handbook says that BMA Scotland and the Scottish Government are ‘committed to eliminating any gender pay gap in general practice’. 

It says: ‘By promoting and offering ESPL, parents will be able to split caring responsibilities between them, rather than it being provided predominantly by women.’