Do Locum Doctors Get Annual Leave?
Locum F3 doctors often mistakenly think that by leaving contracted employment, they lose their employee rights like sick pay, maternity or paternity leave, rest breaks, and annual leave. However, this is not necessarily true. Is important to understand your contract and your rights, and to know what you are entitled to or you may miss out on money and other benefits.
In this article we will focus on locum doctor rights to Annual Leave.
You can learn more about employment rights in these articles:
🔍 Employment Rights: Annual Leave
When doctors decide to become locums, they suddenly become responsible for managing their own rotas and schedules. This can lead to overbooking themselves, as they often forget to schedule rests and holidays into their timetables. When locum doctors worry about lost income, they often neglect their own annual leave needs but hopefully this article will teach you why this worrying isn’t really necessary.
👉 Annual Leave Entitlement
A full time contracted doctor gets 27 days of annual leave, plus 8 days of bank holidays off per year. This is equivalent to 7 working weeks per year. NHS employees earn additional days of annual leave (and other benefits) through a scheme called Reckonable Service, where after 5 years of completed NHS service, a full time contracted doctors annual leave allowance increases to 32 days per year.
Locum doctors do not have a cap on the amount of time they can take off from work, as they have no contractual obligations to the hospital or agency through which they work. Of course, when designing their schedule they may consider other factors like finances, maintaining their skills, and their annual medical appraisal requirements.
Depending on how locum doctors work with a Trust, they may gain the additional benefit of pro-rata’d annual leave payments on top of their hourly rate once they have worked with the same employer for 12 weeks. Most NHS Trusts pay 'holiday pay' or ‘holiday allowance’ at 12.07% of the total pay you earned, in lieu of annual leave entitlement to locum doctors.
Prior to 2006 this will was rolled up into a locum’s agreed hourly rate on their payslips (known as 'rolled up holiday pay'). However, payslips must now clearly differentiate the value and contribution of a locum salary and their holiday pay, which allows doctors to easily keep track of whether or not they are getting this additional payment. Read our full article on interpreting your payslip here.
Some locum work may contribute towards the NHS rekonable service scheme, depending on the amount you are working as a locum. It may be worth establishing with your Trust how much you would need to work to contribute towards this scheme, as your annual leave entitlement (and holiday pay) may increase over time if you are able to remain active in this scheme. Remaining active in this scheme also provides other benefits such as sick pay and maternity pay so it is worth understanding and thinking about if you are working regularly.
❓ What to do if you are not getting your holiday pay
If you are not receiving holiday pay on your payslips then you should raise this with either your locum agency, or the HR/Payroll of the staff bank where you are working at. As a result of doing so, you may find a substantial back payment for all the shifts you've worked.
Occasionally, Trusts and agencies get away with not paying holiday pay, usually because they advertised the hourly rate as inclusive of any holiday pay 'before' you agreed to any work. Whilst this is not best practice, it isn't illegal as they have technically paid you for the time. However, they legally still need to clearly define you holiday pay on your payslip going forward.
If you haven’t been told in advance that a Trust or Agency 'roll up' holiday pay as standard practice, then you are entitled to claim your holiday pay for the hours you have already worked.
Locum doctors do not have a cap on the amount of annual leave they can take, as they are responsible for arranging their own timetable.
Most Trusts and Agencies now pay ‘holiday pay' or ‘holiday allowance’ at 12.07% of the total pay you earned, in lieu of annual leave entitlement to locum doctors. Legally, this needs to be clearly differentiated from your hourly rate on your payslip.
If your Trust or Agency says that they ‘roll up’ your holiday pay into your hourly rate, and they did not advertise this before you accepted the work, then you may be entitled to significant back pay of your holiday entitlement.
If you are unsure about your right in regard to holiday pay, or feel you have been given a wrong response by the Trust, speak to your BMA representative who may be able to provide you with additional support and advice.
This article is part of a wider series of comprehensive guides and information to help doctors ensure their F3 year is a success. We cover everything from initial planning, options for moving abroad, help with finding work, and tips for making the most of the experience.
Click here to visit our F3 Resource Hub to explore the full list of guides and articles.
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