Senior doctors are being forced to bargain their existing contractual rights for access to newly enhanced rules on shared parental leave, the BMA has warned.
The organisation says consultants and staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors have been told that new rules on shared parental leave will not apply to them unless they are willing to trade on their existing contractual rights, including redundancy pay.
The changes, which were introduced at the start of this month, mean that junior doctors across England will now be able to access occupational pay when sharing leave.
Although the change was meant to apply to all NHS staff, consultants and SAS doctors have been advised that their access to the new rules is contingent on accepting restrictions on how redundancy payments are calculated.
BMA consultants committee and SAS committee chairs Rob Harwood and Amit Kochhar have jointly written to health secretary Matt Hancock stating that the approach being taken is punitive and needs to be urgently resolved.
They said: “Whilst the BMA was pleased to welcome this news, we have been shocked, as chairs of the consultants and SAS doctors’ committees, that the enhanced pay for shared parental leave - which has equality at its heart - is being withheld from senior doctors in exchange for acquiescence to punitive changes concerning entirely unrelated employment conditions."
They said: “It is difficult to understand why two staff groups - consultants and SAS doctors - should be required to bargain for a contractual right freely given to all other staff groups”.
The changes to shared parental leave, which will also allow juniors who have not accrued 26 weeks of continuous employment with their employers to qualify, are viewed by the BMA as a vitally important step towards tackling inequality and the gender pay gap in the NHS.