The Registrar Year - Leave, allowances and accounts

Dr Kevin Brown looks at special leave and allowances for GP registrars.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave rules for GP registrars are similar to those for hospital doctors. To qualify for payments a registrar must have completed at least 12 months of continuous service and be working as a registrar in the practice until the beginning of the 15th week before the expected week of delivery.

The registrar must inform her GP trainer of her intention to take maternity leave and submit a statement from a certified midwife indicating the expected date of delivery. The registrar must also inform the trainer of her proposed date of return to work.

The registrar receives 26 weeks' paid leave. In the first eight weeks of absence she receives full pay, followed by 14 weeks on half pay, and then statutory maternity leave of four weeks. She can have a further 26 weeks' unpaid leave to a maximum of 52 weeks.

After a period of maternity leave the registrar should be able to resume her traineeship under her original contract and terms and conditions.

Paternity leave

The GP registrar is entitled to two weeks' paternity leave per birth where they have 12 months' service within the NHS. Those registrars with less than 12 months' service will be untitled to unpaid leave subject to local agreement.

Sickness

If a GP registrar has a period away from work due to sickness then he or she will receive pay based on a formula relating to the number of years in service. The formula for payment is that x years of service relate to x months of full pay followed by x months of half pay (to a maximum of 52 weeks). For example, if the registrar is in their fifth year of NHS service they would receive five months on full pay followed by five months on half pay.

If the registrar is away from work for more than a two-week period then the time within the practice might need to be extended by an equivalent period over and above the two weeks to allow completion of training.

Should the illness lead to premature termination of the registrar's contract with the practice, the trainer would be reimbursed up to a maximum of one month of additional GP registrars' pay to act as a period of working notice.

Study leave

The usual entitlement to study leave is 30 days, of which half is allocated to attendance at a VTS release course. Organisation of additional courses requires agreement with the trainer, course organiser and VTS administrative staff.

Refresher courses for postgraduate qualifications are often acceptable for study leave. Registrars sitting exams for postgraduate qualifications such as DCH or DRCOG can receive a travelling and subsistence allowance at the same rate payable to other practitioners attending educational activities. The appropriate claim form needs to be acquired.

Suspension

If a primary care organisation were to suspend a registrar for whatever reason, in the interests of public safety, then it is the responsibility of the SHA to maintain the suspended GP registrar's financial position.

If, after a period of reflection, the suspension were ended then the GP registrar would be allowed to return to his training practice with any extensions considered appropriate from the deanery.

If you are unhappy with decisions made by the SHA in terms of remuneration you should first write to them. If you are not happy with their reply, which should be made in writing, write to your deanery office, who will then advise you of their decision.

Record-keeping

It is necessary to have a good working relationship with the local tax office and to become familiar with the practice accountant. An early tutorial with the practice manager and/or the accountant could be very good preparation both for future financial well-being and some more obscure issues relating to the training year.

Good record-keeping is essential. Travelling to and from the surgery does not usually count, but any extraordinary meetings such as evening meeting, visits and on-call mileage should all be recorded. All other motoring receipts such as petrol, oil, road tax, insurance, repairs, servicing, MOT and membership of a support organisation will enable you to reclaim tax on your car allowance at the end of your registrar year.

- Dr Kevin Brown is a GP trainer in Bideford, Devon

LEARNING POINTS - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SPECIAL LEAVE AND ALLOWANCES

  • General practice is a business. Have an early tutorial with the practice manager or the practice accountant.
  • Keep records of expenditure and motoring receipts.
  • You are entitled to sickness pay based on a formula relating to the number of years in service.
  • Maternity leave rules for registrars are similar to those for hospital doctors.
  • Paternity leave consists of two weeks' paid leave.
  • The usual entitlement to study leave is 30 days, of which half is allocated to attendance at a VTS release course.

RESOURCES

www.bma.org.uk, www.londondeanery.ac.uk.

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