Types of Leave

Annual Leave

How much annual leave are you entitled to? Well, it depends what point you are on the StR pay scale.

  • Up to point 02, annual leave entitlement is 25 days in a GP post, 27 days in a hospital post (as they get 2 extra statutory days).
  • Point 03 and above entitlement is 30 days in GP, 32 in a hospital post (i.e. 5 extra days).

So, a trainee who starts GP training straight from Foundation Year and assuming they do a full-time 3 year programme will be…

  • On the minimum point of the StR pay scale in ST1 (point 00);
  • Point 01 in ST2;
  • Point 02 in ST3.

So the majority of trainees are only entitled to 25 days of annual leave. There can be confusion thinking that ST3 equals point 03 on the pay scale, but it doesn’t necessarily. You only become point 03 if you’ve worked in other posts after Foundation BUT before joining the GP training scheme (e.g. you’ve changed career).

Study Leave

Study leave is not usually allowed for private study, but may be appropriate in exceptional circumstances. Instead, it’s for going on courses, workshops or doing exams. All study leave must be approved by the Trainer or Hospital Consultant and a Training Programme Director.

  • Officially you get 30 days per year of Study Leave (=15 days every 6 months).
  • Attending HDR already eats up all of this (15 days per 6 months).
  • Study leave that prepares the trainee for the requirements of the core curriculum defined by the RCGP and RCGP membership examination is prioritised above any personal learning interest or development towards a potential role as a GPSI even though this interest is included within the GP curriculum.
  • You must make sure you attend the required number of Half Day Release which take priority over any other demands for study leave.
  • Local courses generally take priority over more distant courses – many schemes will not approve funding for distant MRCGP preparation courses. Clarify with your TPDs.
  • Many schemes will not fund GP Update, refresher and Hot Topics courses as they are not considered the most effective way to prepare for AKT. Clarify with your TPDs.
  • Trainees who are doing well in their assessments may be funded to attend local RCGP courses aimed at established GPs, if they have educational approval and if resources allow.
  • Some schemes recommend to GP training practices that trainees be allowed up to 5 EXTRA study leave days every 6 months in addition to HDR attendance. Included in this extra 5 days is time off to sit compulsory exams. This additional study leave may be granted if the trainer agrees that it is appropriate for the trainee’s professional development needs. However, trainees need to understand that this additional leave is entirely discretionary, not an entitlement, and is almost impossible during hospital posts.

Because of limited resources, most schemes are unable to promise funding for any specific courses. The current priority for funding is for LOCAL courses where the educational activity:

  1. Prepares you for the requirements of MRCGP (like local AKT and RCA courses).
  2. Tackles an essential component of being a GP (like Child and Adult Protection).
To increase the likelihood of your study leave application being approved, follow these guidelines.

1. Make sure the learning need for which you are applying for study leave is on your PDP, clearly described and justified in relation to your career in GP.
2. If you are in any doubt, talk to a TPD before going any further.
3. Use the approved study leave application form.
4. Get the request approved by your Hospital Consultant or GP Trainer and a TPD.
5. Get approval from the Rota Coordinator (hospital post) or Practice Manager (GP post).
6. Apply 8 weeks in advance of the course if possible.
7. Pay any upfront charges required by the organisers of the course – hopefully, these will be reimbursed. Some courses will not be funded neither will courses which you book onto but then you fail to attend.

If you want to go on any course, please follow this protocol. All the forms mentioned here are available from your GP scheme administrator.

  1. Arrange cover for your absence first: in a hospital post, this means liaising with your peers and rota co-ordinator. In a GP post, this means liaising with the Practice Manager.
  2. Fill out a Study Leave Application Form first. Then see if your Consultant or GP Trainer and Training Programme Director will approve your request and sign their part of the form. Forms must be submitted as far in advance as possible but in any event no later than 6 weeks prior to the proposed leave.
  3. If study leave is approved, go ahead and pay for the course yourself.   If study leave is not approved a brief explanation will be provided.
  4. When the course is over, then fill out the Study Leave claim back expenses form, which helps you to reclaim what you’ve personally forked out.
  5. Claim forms must be submitted as soon as possible after the study leave has been completed. Claims submitted after a 3 month period has elapsed will NOT be eligible for payment. Claim forms will not be processed unless accompanied by proof of attendance and receipts.  Forward the completed forms to your GP scheme administrator.
  6. Then just wait for £££ to come through.

Exam Leave

Leave to take exams is usually counted as part of your Study Leave allowance. However, you can only take it as Study leave as dictated below…

Exam leave for the day of the MRCGP

– For the first attempt, leave is granted with pay and expenses.

– For subsequent attempts, leave is granted without pay and expenses.

Exam leave for the day of a diploma (such as DRCOG, DFSRH, DCH, DGM)

– Provided educational approval is given, leave will be granted without funding.

Exam preparation leave

– There is no automatic entitlement to Exam Preparation Leave for private study in order to prepare for an exam.

– In exceptional circumstances, the employing body may grant leave for up to 2 days to prepare for an exam but no more than 3 days in a year.

Please keep a log

In addition to Annual and Study leave, you are allowed time off from the training programme for any of the types of leave mentioned below, in accordance with the contractual arrangements with your employer.  However, we would like to reiterate the fact that the total, aggregated allowance for the types of leave below must not exceed…

  • one week in any 6 month post or
  • two weeks in a 12 month training period or
  • six weeks over a 3-year training period

(Please note that one year would be a calendar year beginning from programme start date).

Please keep a log of all your leave throughout your 3 year training programme (sickness, parental, maternity and anything else). ‘The ES Workbook’ will help keep a tally of these for you.

Remember, informing the different stakeholders who need to know is the trainee’s responsibility. Failing to do this early on will mean that any gaps that need making up in your training programme will be picked up too late to do anything about and only you lose out. We do not want this to happen to you.

Sick Leave

If you need time off sick, there are 2 aspects you need to think about:

Your Employment

– You should contact your workplace immediately to let them know you can’t come to work. In GP this might be the Practice Manager or your Trainer, in hospital the Rota Coordinator, departmental secretary or your Clinical Supervisor.  Try to have a conversation or full message exchange – don’t just leave a message and hope it gets through. If you can give them an idea of how long you are likely to be off sick, this is helpful.

– You must send sick notes to the correct admin department in your employing organisation – if you don’t, you may not get paid on time.

Your Education

– If you are absent for more than two weeks in any one year for any kind of leave in addition to the study and annual leave allowance, that excess must be made up with additional training time at the end of your training programme.

– If you are absent for more than the two weeks allowance, please let the following people know:
1. Your scheme’s GP administrator
2. The Training Programme Directors
3. The Deanery

Other Types of Leave

Parental Leave

Eligible employees can take unpaid parental leave to look after their child’s welfare, eg to: spend more time with their children, look at new schools, settle children into new childcare arrangements, spend more time with family, such as visiting grandparents.

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Maternity Leave

This is for when you take time off to have a baby. Remember, you might be eligible for: Statutory Maternity Leave, Statutory Maternity Pay, paid time off for antenatal care or extra help from the government.

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Paternity Leave

When you take time off because your partner’s having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement you might be eligible for:
– 1 or 2 weeks’ paid Paternity Leave,
– Paternity Pay,
– Shared Parental Leave and Pay.

You may not get both leave and pay, and there are rules on how to claim and when your leave can start.

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Time off for Family and Dependents

As an employee you’re allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone who depends on you for care. You’re allowed a reasonable amount of time off to deal with the emergency, but there’s no set amount of time as it depends on the situation.

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Compassionate Leave

Unfortunately, most people will experience the loss of somebody close to them at some point during their career and may need time off work for compassionate bereavement leave. This allows them time for grieving and managing bereavement matters, such as arranging or attending a funeral. Currently, there is no legal obligation for UK employers to provide compassionate leave as standard, paid or otherwise. However, most employers do exercise discretion, and most detail a formal bereavement leave policy as a contractual entitlement. Please talk to your employer.

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Carer’s Leave

If you are an employee but also have caring responsibilities for children, elderly relatives or dependants you:

– Can apply for  The right to request flexible working
– are entitled to Time off for dependants to deal with unforeseen circumstances.

Jury Service Leave

Your employer is required to give you time off for jury service BUT they don’t have to pay you for the time that you take off (unless your employment contract says so). You’ll be able to claim money back from the court to make up for some of your financial losses.

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Time off to visit the doctor or dentist

Your employer are not legally obliged to give you time off to attend doctor or dentist appointments unless your contract of employment says so. Your employer can insist you make these visits outside work hours, take holiday leave or make the time up later on. You should check your contract of employment.

Pregnant women are allowed reasonable paid time off work for ante-natal care – you won’t need to make it up later.

If you’re disabled and your employer won’t let you take time off for a medical appointment connected with your disability, they could be discriminating against you. Discuss this with them in the first instance.