Your Rights on Annual Leave

In this article we provide an overview of the rules surrounding annual and study leave for a junior doctor in full-time work.

Annual leave

  • Basic entitlement for a junior doctor:
    • First appointment to NHS: 27 days
    • After 5 years service: 32 days
    • This is in addition to the 8 public holidays 


  • In most cases, a notice period of 6 weeks for annual leave requests is required. If, however, there are circumstances outside a doctor’s control and a reasonable request is made outside of this notice period, the employer is required to give it due consideration


  • Your employer must give annual leave for life-changing events (e.g. getting married) provided you have given the minimum notice.


  • You can request to carry up to 5 days of annual leave forward into the next cycle with the same employer if you have been unable to take your leave due to service demands.


  • You can request payment for up to 5 days of annual leave at the end of employment if you have been unable to take your leave due to service demands.


  • You have the right to a day off in lieu if you are working anytime between the hours of  00:01 and 23:59 on a public holiday, or if you have been allocated a ‘rest day’ (or ‘zero day’) on a public holiday on your work schedule.


  • If a public holiday falls on a weekend day (e.g. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day) and you are working this day, you are not entitled to a day off in lieu. In these cases the public holiday is moved to the next working day for the country, so doctors working on this day are entitled to a day off in lieu if they are required to work or have been allocated a rest day on their work schedule.


  • If you fall sick when on your leave and produce certification in support, your annual leave is suspended and it becomes sick leave.


Study Leave

  • Basic entitlement:
    • Foundation Year 1: 15 days 
    • All other grades: 30 days


  • You can apply for study leave for study (linked to your programme), research, teaching, exams, attending conferences and training events.


  • Attendance at mandatory or statutory teaching days should not be taken from your study leave allowance


To learn more, head to the BMA’s comprehensive guide to the terms and conditions of the 2016 junior doctor contract here. Read our article outlining doctors’ pay rights here.






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