A 2017 BMA poll of sessional GPs found that almost 40% work without any agreed terms and conditions - leaving them at risk of disputes over pay or the work they are expected to carry out, and potentially their tax status.
Guidance published this week by the BMA provides standard terms and conditions drawn up by GP leaders and the union's lawyers. Locum GPs and the practices they work for should sign the agreement, which can then be used 'as a framework for all future engagements'.
A 'work schedule' drawn up alongside the terms and conditions document 'clearly sets out what work a locum has agreed to undertake' - and doctors are advised to complete this document each time they begin a spell of work.
BMA GP sessional subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris said: 'Every day, locum GPs are working hard to support a thinly-stretched NHS and general practice workforce, with practices relying on these talented doctors to provide high quality care to patients within their communities.
'These model terms and conditions aim to avoid disputes, or where they do occur, make them easier to resolve – protecting both the individual doctor and the practice. It also protects locums against being categorised as employees for tax or legal purposes, and ensures compliance with GDPR.
'We would urge all locum GPs to use this important agreement as the basis for a contract between themselves and the practice in which they are working.'
The documents are intended to protect both practices and individual locum GPs, the BMA said. The standard model terms and conditions document sets out the terms on which the GP is employed, obligations on employers and locums, and rules on termination of contracts.
Optional clauses can be added to cover cancellation fees, indemnity and other issues.