Practical and Financial considerations



It can be challenging to find childcare in Edinburgh. You may have support from local family, but many trainees do not and still make manageable arrangements. If you are looking for a nursery or childminder, some advise looking even during pregnancy or early in your maternity leave. However, do not despair if you have not done so, there is often eventually movement on waiting lists and places can become available unexpectedly. Some nurseries do offer NHS discount, so consider enquiring about this.

You may wish to arrange that your child start in nursery or childminder for a short period of time before you return to work to allow them to settle in, and for you to be reassured that your baby is happy and managing. In choosing your childcare setting, consider the shifts that you may be required to work, and the opening hours if you are likely to be doing some or all pickups or drop offs.

Both nurseries and childminders are inspected by the Care Inspectorate, and you can find their reports here. Word of mouth is also invaluable.

You may be eligible for tax-free childcare which can subsidise up to £2000 of childcare costs: /tax-free-childcare. You can sign up for this in the month before your maternity leave ends, that is the month before you return to being paid for your accrued leave, rather than the date you physically return to work. You are not eligible for this if you or your partner will earn over £100,000 in the relevant tax year. While this will not be the case for many junior doctors, it may rarely occur if your rota is double banded as a higher trainee due to failed rota monitoring or if your partner earns above this threshold.

Child Benefit

You may be entitled to this if both parents earn less than £60,000 individually, receiving the full amount if you earn less than £50,000 and a tapered amount in between those thresholds. Be aware of this as your pay increments as you may need to arrange to repay or not claim this, for example, if you move up a pay increment, your banding is increased or you receive back pay for hours monitoring.

Working Two Jobs

If you have a second job, for example with the university, before 26 weeks of pregnancy, you may choose to resume this without cutting short your maternity leave from your usual training post. This may also be the case if you regularly locum in another health board, however, you should confirm this with HR. You may also be entitled to a second allowance of SMP from your second role and should seek advice from that role’s HR department.

Carer’s Leave

Carer’s Leave is a subcategory of Special Leave. There have been some changes to this recently with the updated “Once for Scotland” Special Leave guide.

This applies to situations where you require unplanned time off. This may be due to illness or injury, or due to a breakdown in normal care arrangements (eg nursery is shut or childminder unwell) at short notice. You are asked to attempt to make alternative arrangements to return to work as soon as possible. In some circumstances, you may

The Special Leave policy states that may usually take paid carer’s leave for up to one working week for each occurrence, which can then be extended for a further paid on unpaid week at the discretion of your manager. If you have previously been aware of this policy, you may note that this has slightly changed from previous local policies.

You may find that your child is ill (often with viral illnesses) more frequently during their initial months in nursery, and that you may acquire those illnesses too. This does tend to improve with time!

Parental Leave

Each parent with more than twelve months continuous NHS service may qualify for parental leave. Parental leave bust be used to spend time with or care for your child. You can take 18 weeks for each child under the age of 18. The first four weeks are paid and the other 14 weeks are unpaid. The paid weeks must be taken befor eyour child’s 14th birthday, unless your child is adopted or lives with a disability.

If you have a single pregnancy with multiple births, you are entitled to take parental leave for each child (unlike maternity leave which is a single period of leave regardless of number of children).

You are required to apply for parental leave in advance, ideally with 3 week’s notice. If your department is unable to approve your leave on the dates you request, your line manager should meet with you to find mutually agreeable dates within the following six months. Your leave cannot be postponed if you are requesting it to begin immediately after the birth of the baby or adoption of a child. Full guidance and forms are available here: Parental Leave Policy Guide for Employees | NHS Scotland.

IT Logins and ID badges

Your computer logins will likely expire due to lack of activity during your leave. More significantly, your email address may be closed due to inactivity if you do not log into

it. You can prevent this happening by asking your line manager to inform IT that you will be on maternity leave so that they do not automatically close your email address. You may of course still choose to access your work email during maternity leave but are not obliged to do so.

Your ID badge may also require reactivation on return from a prolonged absence.

Your department or the medical education centre at your site should be able to help you find the appropriate forms for both as you return.

Useful Resources

Some Royal Colleges and Specialty Societies have compiled useful guides for those becoming parents. Some of these include:



· RCSEng



Generic Resources Relating to Leave Entitlements


· Citizen’s Advice

· Pregnant then Screwed

· Maternity Money (a maternity leave pay calculator)

Defence Unions

· You can suspend membership while you are on maternity leave. You should ensure that you have resumed before your return to work or for KIT days. You should also ensure that your year of training is correct or if you are LTFT as your fees may be reduced.


· Your registration fee may be reduced if your income in a 12 month period while on maternity leave is below a particular threshold (£34,000 from 1 April 2023). In subsequent years, there may be an ongoing discount if your income remains below that level (eg if you are working LTFT).

Royal Colleges/Specialty Societies

· In some cases, you may be able to suspend your membership or be eligible for reduced rates while on maternity leave.