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NHS pension superannuation scheme

All Locum A and B NHS pension forms are now fully integrated into NASGP's LocumDeck - our comprehensive online booking and invoicing tool to help any GP manage and organise their entire working portfolio.

The NHS Pension Scheme was created in 1948 and is the largest centrally administered public sector pension scheme in Europe and currently has 1.4 million actively contributing members, and pays pension benefits to over 750,000 pensioners every month.

When the NASGP was founded in 1997, GP locums were not entitled to contribute to the NHS superannuation scheme. So we made it our first priority to lobby the BMA to ensure we could, and 3 years later we succeeded.

The issue of pensions is complex and the administration of contributions can be frustrating, but the benefits of NHS pension scheme are still widely regarded as excellent. With anything so crucial as your pension, we also advise you to seek expert advice from an independent financial advisor.

In a nutshell

  • If you work freelance and are paid directly by the practice, not via a limited company or an agency, you can pension pay you get for locum work in GP practices.
  • You cannot pension income in the NHS scheme for locum work carried out for Independent Providers.
  • You cannot pension pay for GP locum work carried out more than 10 weeks ago.
  • Your pensionable pay  is 90% of your NHS locum earnings - there is a 10% allowance for expenses.
  • In England & Wales, the employing practice must pay you the 14.38% employer contribution which you must pay into the pension scheme - it is illegal to keep the employer contribution.

How to do it

  • You need to get a Locum Form A signed once a month for each practice you worked in that month, certifying that you carried out eligible NHS work. It is usual to send this to the practice with your invoice. NB NASGP LocumDeck handles all this for you, complete with online paperless e-signatures.
  • At the end of the month, as soon as you can, use GP Locum Form B to record all the pay you received that month, and use it to calculate the total pension contribution you need to pay, combining your employee contribution with the employer contributions (all handled automatically by LocumDeck).
  • Your Locum B form, plus accompanying Locum A forms and pension payment should be sent to your relevant pension agency within 7 days of the end of the month e.g. Your January B form certifying your pensionable pay received in January would be sent by 7 February.
  • Your employee contribution rate tier is based on all your Practitioner income, which means all NHS GP income (all handled automatically by LocumDeck).
  • If you're a locum, you may be estimating your tier at the start of a pension year (1 April) and reviewing whether you paid the correct contribution rate at the end of the pension year (31 March).
  • Note that Locum A forms are based on the date the work was done whilst Locum B forms are about when payment was received, regardless of the date the work was carried out. This is a common cause of confusion, but basically if you work a session 2nd July, send an invoice and Locum A form at the end of July and receive payment in August, this payment would be included on your August Locum Form B (not July) - all handled automatically by LocumDeck.

Pension FAQs

General

This is one of the questions we get asked most at NASGP, since there's been a lot of conflicting advice over the years, not helped by some very strong opinions on social media. We've received exclusive clarification from the Technical Consultancy Team, NHS Business Services Authority (NHS Pensions).

View FAQ

If you are in receipt of a pension the rules are the same for your spouse or partner, whether or not you had been a locum GP, salaried GP or partner. There is a 50% spouse's pension, and if you have a dependent child under 23 then they get 25%, and if you have a child who has special needs and not capable of independent living then there is no minimum age applicable for them.

And if you are not married, you need to fill in form PN1 to nominate you partner to receive your pension benefits.

More NHS pension FAQs

NASGP member BD has raised this very important question, since NASGP's LocumDeck excludes travel costs from the Locum A pension calculation.

The NHSBSA, in its 2017 factsheet for GP locums, states:

Q. Are travel expenses, i.e. motor mileage allowance pensionable?

A. No. Deduct 10% of your gross pay first which accounts for expenses.

So is it just a plain fat 'no'? Does one include one's charges for travel as 'gross pay', or include it? And is NASGP correct in not including expenses i.e. travel costs/mileage in our automated Locum A forms within LocumDeck?

Our advice from Honey Barrett accountants (4th May 2017), and confirmed by their pension experts from the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, has confirmed NASGP's position by pinning down the actual legislation:

1995 regulations, schedule 2, regulation R1, paragraph 6(3):

"In the case of a locum practitioner, "pensionable earnings" means all fees and other payments made to the locum practitioner in respect of the provision of locum services (but excluding payments made to cover expenses or for overtime), less such expenses as are deductible in accordance with guidance laid down by the Secretary of State."

Honey Barrett conclude "...[pensionable earnings] excludes expenses, so just the locum fee x 90% (which is the allowance for expenses as stipulated by the Secretary of State)."

You can not pay any contributions in to the NHS superannuation scheme that were paid to a limited company - so that means that if you're employed by a company (such as a locum agency or your own private company), you'll have to use an alternative pension scheme. Locum GPs who are members of a chambers are usually able to contribute to the NHS pension scheme since they remain self-employed.

Advice to NASGP as part of our membership of the NHSPS Stakeholder Engagement Group

As a freelance GP locum, if you're a member of the 1995 or 2008 NHSPS, your tiered contributions rate is based on your actual freelance GP locum Practitioner pensionable pay.

However, if you're a member of the new 2015 NHSPS, your tiered contributions rate is based on your annualised freelance GP locum Practitioner pensionable pay. (If, as 2015 scheme members, you don't have any breaks, then your actual and annualised pay would both be the same).

So long as, as a freelance GP locum, you perform pensionable work at least once every three months, your pension record will be kept open and so, for the purposes of tiered contributions only, will be regarded as being continuous, meaning that actual and annualised are the same.

Beware the NHS pension annualisation booby trap

SD86 statements were phased out in 2014 and have been replaced by the annual benefits statement which can be viewed online, annually.

This benefits statement contains all the information that was previously included on the old SD86 form.

 

A Type 2 medical practitioner is a:

  • salaried GP formally employed by a GP surgery, APMS Contractor, or a LHB (Wales).
  • long-term fee-basedGP who worked for a GP surgery, APMS Contractor, or a LHB.
  • GP who solely performs OOHs either on an employed or self-employed basis.
  • GP ‘with special interests’ (GPwSI) employed or engaged by NHS England or a LHB.

As a rule of thumb, any GP who is not a GP partner or solely working as a GP locum will probably be considered 1 Type 2 practitioner.

Every Type 2 medical Practitioner in England and Wales is required by law to complete an annual self-assessment form and arrange for any arrears of employee contributions to be sent to the relevant NHS Pension Scheme ‘employer’. If contributions have been overpaid the Type 2 GP must also be pro-active in recovering these.

The form must be sent to the relevant local area team in England or LHB in Wales by no later than the last day of February each year.

If a Type 2 medical Practitioner fails to complete the form and subsequently pays employee contributions at the wrong rate, they are acting in breach of statutory pensions legislation; this may affect their NHS pension benefits at retirement. There is more detailed guidance on the form.

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Employer's contribution

If you are a locum GP in the NHS scheme the practice must pay a 14.3% contribution to the locum, and you then pay that to NHS pensions along with your personal contribution.

If you are not in the NHS scheme, you can still negotiate an employer's contribution with the practice if that is your wish, although there is nothing contractual in place for non-NHS schemes.

No.

You've got 10 weeks from the last date in that month to get your NHS pension payment to your local Area Team. Go beyond that, and they can reject your payment.

But strictly speaking you're not free to spend all that un-cashed money; the 14.3% employers contribution has to be returned to the practice. That said, if you're using NASGP's T&Cs, there is a clause that allows you to reserve the right to charge an extra 20% to compensate you - so, quids in! Regardless, you can of course keep your personal contribution, and you'll be wise to invest it in a private pension pot - but it'll be unlikely to accrue the same benefits as it would have inside your NHS pension.

If practices are not paying you in time, please refer them to TN 05/2014 and the Locum forms A that remind them to pay the Locum promptly.

Use NASGP's locum Terms & Conditions which includes a clause to receive compensation if their delay causes payment rejection.

The statutory NHS Pension Scheme Regulations and section 49 of the Pensions Act 1995 states that the employer has to pay the employer's contribution if you're contributing to the NHS superannuation scheme.

See also | NHS Pension Scheme : Direction Body Administration Guide

Legal obligations

Failure to remit contributions to the Scheme, complete relevant paperwork, update member pension records, or deny employees access to the Scheme constitutes a breach of the statutory NHS Pension Scheme Regulations and section 49 of the Pensions Act 1995. Section 48 of the Pensions Act 1995 and section 70 of the Pensions Act 2004 states that NHS Pensions has a legal duty to report any ‘breaches of law’ to the Pensions Regulator. If an individual is found guilty of a ‘breach of law’ they may be subject to a heavy fine, imprisonment, or both.

And also, according to the BMA, if that practice is a GMS practice it is also acting in breach of the statutory GMS SFE (Statement of Financial Entitlement. The SFE has penalty clauses including giving the PCO powers to withhold monies it pays to the practice if any part of the SFE has not been complied with.

So from April 2013, in England and Wales, since funding is provided for all superannuation contributions, including those of GP locums, it is now the responsibility of practices in England and Wales to pay the employer’s contribution for locums.

If a practice therefore refuses to pay, the NHS Pensions Division, the Pensions Division can withhold monies from a GP Provider’s pension benefits if they decide they have been acting illegally.

Section 48 of the 1995 Pensions Act and section 70 of the 2004 Pensions Act states that the NHS Pensions Division has a legal duty to report any 'breaches of pensions law’ to the Pensions Regulator. If an individual is found guilty of a breach they may be subject to a heavy fine of up to £50,000.00 per offence.

The NHS Pensions Division also have a duty to inform the Business Services Authority, at NHS Counter Fraud Services, if they believe that fraud may have taken place in the NHS. NHS Counter Fraud has already investigated several Practices who are allegedly breaking the law.

Has a practice refused to pay you your employer's contribution?

Forward the url of this page to that practice to inform them - they probably weren't aware. Or copy/paste it into your next invoice.

Exclusive advice from NHSPA

If you are an employed sessional GP (an assistant, retainer, or salaried) working for an organisation that qualifies as a NHS Pension Scheme Employing Authority (GP Practice, CCG, LHB, etc) your employer must, in law, ensure your employment is pensionable. If you are a self-employed freelance GP locum working in the NHS you have been entitled to ‘pension’ your income since April 1st 2001. Your scheme membership is ‘triggered’ by completing (and submitting) forms A and B.

If you are a freelance GP Locum working for an agency (or a commercial deputising agency) or have set yourself up as a limited company you fall outside of the NHS Pension Scheme and cannot ‘pension’ your NHS income; you should therefore consider alternative pension arrangements.

Once you’re paying regular Scheme contributions into the Scheme, keep an eye out in your bank statements to ensure your cheques have been cashed as not all authorities send monthly statements.

Meanwhile, for locum GPs, practices are responsible for paying the 14.38% employer’s contribution (which is actually 12.6% of the bill, allowing for 10% of the locum income being classed as “professional expenses” and not being pensionable – as is the case at the moment).

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Pension tiers

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The table sets out the member contribution rates that will apply in both the 1995 and 2008 Sections, as well as the new 2015 Scheme from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2019.

 TierRangeAmount
 1Up to £15,431.995.0%
 2£15,432.00 to £21,477.995.6%
 3£21,478.00 to £26,823.997.1%
 4£26,824.00 to £49,845.999.3%
 5£49,846.00 to £70,630.9912.5%
 6£70,631.00 to £111,376.9913.5%
 7£111,377.00 and over14.5%

Scotland

The table sets out the member contribution rates that will apply in both the 1995 and 2008 Sections, as well as the new 2015 Scheme from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2019.
 TierRangeAmount
 1Up to £16,1285.2%
 2£16,129 to £21,8175.8%
 3£21,818 to £27,3607.3%
 4£27,361 to £50,4669.5%
 5£50,467 to £72,05012.7%
 6£72,051 to £112,49013.7%
 7£112,491 and above14.7%

The NHS superannuation scheme is open to NHS employees and self-employed GP locums employed by NHS practices.

This explains why the LocumA form stipulates that, in relation to the NHS pension scheme:

  • Non-NHS (i.e. private) work is not pensionable
  • Freelance GP Locums trading as limited companies cannot pension their income

If you're employed by a locum agency, you are working for a private (non-NHS) company, and are therefore unable to pension your work in the NHS pension scheme for the same reason. But you can pension your work into a private scheme.

GP locums working through chambers can generally pension their work using the NHS pension scheme since they remain self-employed (unless they trade as a limited company through the chambers, or for some reason they are employed by the chambers).

This depends on several factors, see our full article on NHS pension annualisation.

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Completing and sending Locum A and B forms

Our hugely popular locum pension spreadsheet has now become LocumDeck  - completely free to NASGP members Within seconds, generate online automated pension forms, complete with paperless electronic signatures, including invoicing, bookkeeping, T&Cs, document manager and optional online 'Instant Book' booking.

See more NHS pension FAQs

 

The NHS pension websites are not the easiest to navigate, so we've provided direct links to all locum GP Form A and B here for you.

Better still, we've completely automated all these forms and embedded them into NASGP's LocumDeck - completed within seconds, then even include the ability for practice managers to instantly sign them electronically.

There is a specific section for locum GPs, which towards then end gives the correct link to find the forms you'll need. Or more specifically, you can download the forms direct here.

NB LocumDeck, NASGP's online invoicing and booking system, includes automated Locum A and B forms with the new unique identifying reference.

For May 2017 there is a new GP locum factsheet too.

For use from 1 April 2018

Form Solo for use from 1 April 2017

See more NHS pension FAQs from NASGP

There's a general section for all GPs, and also links to the forms you'll need if you're a locum GP. Links to the specific forms are here:

NB NASGP's online invoicing system includes automated Locum A and B forms for Scotland.

See the list of locum forms on the NI HSC pensions website.

NB NASGP's online invoicing system will include automated Locum A and B forms for Northern Ireland beginning September 2016.

LocumDeck user?

LocumDeck handles this all entirely automatically. You can leave this page and go and make yourself a nice cup of tea.

Not a LocumDeck user?

You're going to need that cup of tea. The process by which a GP locum needs to aggregate their Locum A and B forms together so that they all have the same Unique Identifying Reference (UIR) caused some confusion when this change was first released in May 2017. But after communications with the NHS pension Stakeholder engagement team, it has been clarified that the UIR is created when you are generating your Locum B form, ready to submit your pension payment, and you then retrospectively add this same UIR to all the Locum A forms included with that Locum B form.

One of LocumDeck's most popular features is that it does all this for you, stamping all associated Locum A and B forms with the same unique UIR.

So, although the box for the UIR on Locum A form is in the section that usually needs to be completed before posting to the practice for them to complete Section 2, the UIR must in fact *not* be added here until the Locum A form has been received back from the practice with your payment. It's only then that you can confirm what month the payment was received in, and therefore, which month's Locum B form it will be included on. The UIR on the Locum B form and all its corresponding Locum A forms uses the first three digits of that month as part of that UIR.

For example, if you receive a Locum A form and its associated payment in June, your UIR will be xxxxxxxxLocJun17 (xxxxxxxx is your 8-digit SD pension reference number that begins SD).

The Locum B form that goes with this Locum A, and all other Locum As relating to payments received in June, will also have the same xxxxxxxxLocJun17 UIR, and all must received by NHSPS by the 7th July.

LocumDeck automatically generates the UIR for all Locum B forms. For Locum A forms, LocumDeck generates thet first part of the code xxxxxxxxLoc for you, leaving five blank boxes for you to complete by hand when you get them back from the practice.

*If you have entered a UIR before sending it to the practice, and the practice has paid you in the same month as the three-character month reference that you gave in your UIR, then of course you will have entered the UIR correctly. If the UIR is wrong, NHSPS have confirmed to NASGP that you simply draw a line through the wrong UIR, write the correct UIR next to it, and then countersign it.

See more NHS pension FAQs from NASGP

Pensioning your work

The Locum Form A is for pensionable NHS work, usually carried out as either a freelance GP locum or for NHS appraisal work.

  • It’s not for private work,
    • or if you trade as a limited company
    • or for work performed more than 10 weeks ago.
    • You can still pension non-NHS work, but only into a private pension scheme.

Exceptions

  • Notable Locum Form A exceptions include GP partners or providers locuming in their own practice, where they’ll need to pension their work in their usual way.
 Or OOH or CCG work, where you’ll need to use Form SOLO.
  • The NHS locum pension ‘six month rule’ now no longer exists. You are free to either continue using Form A beyond six months, or in arrangement with the practice you can arrange to pension your work as a Type 2 practitioner, which means you can pension 100% of your income as opposed to the 90% allowed as a locum.

Getting it done

  • You’ll need to send a completed Form A with your invoice to every practice that you’ve chosen to pension your work in that month.
  • In any one month, you need to pension either all the work in a practice, or none of it. You can’t just pension some of it.
  • Each Form A must include your unique identifying number, which is based on your SD number and the month and year in which you receive the corresponding invoices payment for the Form A.
  • There are currently only four spaces to include each period of work within a month, and any extra periods will need to be added to an additional supplementary form.
  • LocumDeck automatically generates paperless Form As for all applicable sessions, including generating a professional invoice, e-signatures, storing a copy, adding the data to your bookkeeping area and passing it all to your Form B form instantaneously. You and your practice managers will never need to post, print, scan, upload or download a Form A ever again.

See more NHS pension FAQs

Locum Form B Basics

  • The GP Locum Form B tells you exactly how much pension contribution you need to pay to cover a specific calendar month.
  • It records all that month’s Locum A forms for income received (not work performed).
  • Form B’s unique identifying reference (its UIR) must be identical to the UIRs on each of the corresponding Form As.

Pension tiers

  • You need to choose a pension tier at the beginning of the financial year, and stick with that tier for the whole 12 month period from April to March.
 Your pension tier is usually based on your global Practitioner income (i.e. the total of all your different pensionable Practitioner scheme NHS work),
    • but if you’re in the 2015 scheme and take breaks out of the NHS pension scheme longer than three months, it’s based on your annualised (i.e. full time equivalent) income.
  • If at the end of the year it turns out that you’ve made contributions using the wrong tier, simply notify primary care support services who will either reimburse you, or ask you to pay them the difference.

Getting it done

  • Work performed more than ten weeks ago cannot be pensioned.
  • Payment needs to be received by primary care support services by the 7th day of the following month the seventh day of the following calendar month. For example, a January Locum B form is for income received in January, and needs to be received by NHS pensions by the 7th of February.
  • If you send your paperwork by email, that will count as your receipt
  • In England, you can Pay by cheque, or phone 0333 014 2884 for the sortcode and account number to pay by BACS.
 If using BACS, you can email the forms, or post to Primary Care Support England, PO Box 350, Darlington, DL1 9QN
 In Wales you can at the moment only pay by cheque, payable and sent to your LHB.

NASGP’s LocumDeck automatically generates all your Locum B forms and keeps a really helpful accountant-friendly summary in your personalised online bookkeeping area.

See more NHS pension FAQs

Each country differs significantly in how it handles NHS pension payments. For Wales, Scotland and Northern ireland it's simply by popping the forms in the post, whereas in England it requires pulling in information from various sources and navigating their rather clunky website.

Here we've pulled all of that information into one place, with links and all sorts of tips and tricks to make it as easy as possible.

View FAQ

Yes. The process by which a GP locum needs to aggregate their Locum A and B forms together so that they all have the same Unique Identifying Reference (UIR) caused some confusion when this change was first released in May 2017. But after communications with the NHS pension Stakeholder engagement team, it has been clarified that the UIR is created when you are generating your Locum B form, ready to submit your pension payment, and you then retrospectively add this same UIR to all the Locum A forms included with that Locum B form.

So, although the box for the UIR on Locum A form is in the section that usually needs to be completed before posting to the practice for them to complete Section 2, the UIR must in fact *not* be added here until the Locum A form has been received back from the practice with your payment. It's only then that you can confirm what month the payment was received in, and therefore, which month's Locum B form it will be included on. The UIR on the Locum B form and all its corresponding Locum A forms uses the first three digits of that month as part of that UIR.

For example, if you receive a Locum A form and its associated payment in June, your UIR will be xxxxxxxxLocJun17 (xxxxxxxx is your 8-digit SD pension reference number that begins SD).

The Locum B form that goes with this Locum A, and all other Locum As relating to payments received in June, will also have the same xxxxxxxxLocJun17 UIR, and all must received by NHSPS by the 7th July.

*If you have entered a UIR before sending it to the practice, and the practice has paid you in the same month as the three-character month reference that you gave in your UIR, then of course you will have entered the UIR correctly. If the UIR is wrong, NHSPS have confirmed to NASGP that you simply draw a line through the wrong UIR, write the correct UIR next to it, and then countersign it.

See more NHS pension FAQs from NASGP

'SD' stands for Superannuation Division and is also known as "NHSPS reference number". You can find your SD number on any correspondence sent to you from NHS pensions, on some payslips and your online Total Reward Statement; it's an eight digit figure and starts SD. If you can't find your SD number, you can call the NHS pensions helpline on 0300 330 1346.

Once you have your SD number, add it to your settings in LocumDeck so that it will automatically populate all your locum Form A and Form Bs every month, along with your invoices - all free with NASGP membership.

See more NHS pension FAQs from NASGP

LocumDeck-2-gif

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Long-term work and Form SOLO

clinical commissioning groupAs a freelance locum GP, the only way that you can pension CCG work under the NHS superannuation scheme is if you bite the bullet and become a salaried CCG employee. At retirement, you may get a separate Officer pension, or the CCG post may convert to Practitioner under what is known as the 'flexibilities'.

So why can't I pension my CCG work without becoming a CCG employee?

A GP (Dr X) who is solely a freelance GP locum cannot superannuate CCG work on locum forms A and B. This is because a freelance GP locum is defined under the NHSPS regs as follows....

"Locum practitioner" means a registered medical practitioner (other than a specialist trainee in general practice) whose name is included in a medical performers list and who is engaged, otherwise than in pursuance of a commercial arrangement with an agent, under a contract for services by:

  1. a GMS practice; 
  2. a PMS practice; 
  3. an APMS contractor; 
  4. an OOH provider; 
  5. or Local Health Board,

to deputise or assist temporarily in the provision of essential services, additional services, enhanced services, dispensing services, OOH services, commissioned services, certification services, Board and advisory work, health related functions exercised under section 75 of the 2006 Act, NHS 111 services or collaborative services (or any combination thereof)"

In particular, note that there is no scope for Dr X to superannuate CCG work if working directly for a CCG. Nor can Dr X superannuate their CCG work in any other way; i.e. as a type 2 (assistant) Practitioner.

A type 2 medical Practitioner is defined in the NHSPS regs as follows....

"type 2 medical practitioner" means a GP performer who

  1. is not a GP provider, and
    1. is employed (whether under a contract of service or for services) by a GMS practice, a PMS practice, an APMS contractor, an OOH provider, or a Local Health Board, and 
    2. in that employment is engaged wholly or mainly in assisting his employer in the discharge of the employer's duties as a GMS practice, a PMS practice, an APMS contractor, an OOH provider, or a Local Health Board; or 
  2. is participating in a Doctors' Retainer Scheme"

In summary, a type 2 is a salaried GP or long term fee based GP working for a GP Practice, an APMS contractor, an OOH provider, or a Local Health Board. By virtue that there is no reference to a CCG means that Dr X cannot superannuate their CCG income.

If Dr X has been an existing type 1 (GP Partners, single-handed GPs, and GP shareholders in GMS, PMS, sPMS, and APMS are regarded as type 1 medical Practitioners) or 2 (in addition to working as a GP locum) there would be no problem.

Updated 13th March 2018

This advice has now been superseded by clarification from NHSBS in light of new advice on annualisation.

Freelance GP locums who are also appraisers will now be able to superannuate their appraisal income.

This means that it will now in effect cost NHS England (or LHBs in Wales) £570.00 per appraisal. The core pensionable fee (excluding employer contributions) will be £500.00 regardless of what type of GP is performing them. GP locum forms A & B will be revamped to provide guidance and of course a freelance GP locum has the flexibility of not ‘pensioning’ their income if they don’t want to.

This FAQ on long-term locum work is from the perspective of being a GP locum in the same practice for a 'long time', rather than about choosing working as a GP locum as part of your career portfolio.

It explains it from four different perspectives - NHS pension scheme, HMRC tax perspective, employment law and 'mission creep', and there's even an audio podcast too.

A long-term locum post at a practice often starts off as a short-term venture, but with significant recruitment problems in general practice at the moment, it's likely the practice will want to hold on to you and keep you coming back.

Alternatively, your stint at the practice could have begun very much with the long term in mind. Either way, the longer you're at the practice, the more your role will slowly change from that of ad-hoc short-term locum to being part of the practice team. As this process goes on, not only will your significance within the practice develop in the eyes of patients and staff, but certain regulatory factors will also come in to play.

There are four areas that need careful consideration the longer you work for the same practice.

Tax purposes

  • The decision of whether you're self-employed or an employee for tax purposes is ultimately down to HMRC, and depends upon factors such as if you run your business for yourself and take responsibility for its success or failure, work for several practices at the same time, and you can decide how, where and when you do your work etc. More details are available on the GOV.UK website.
  • Or you may have already set yourself up as your own limited company.
  • Use HMRC's employment indicator tool to give you a clearer understanding of your tax status.
Our advice is to ask an accountant if you're unsure in any way.

Employment law

Although your work at the practice may have begun with you being self-employed, or employed by an agency, certain factors in the way you work with the practice may, over the duration, inadvertently give rise to you becoming an employee of that practice in terms of employment law.

If you're employed by the practice, you can have access to certain rights such as Statutory Sick Pay, protection against unfair dismissal, the right to request flexible working and quite a few other rights.

Employees have a contract, and this can be written or verbal. Consider adding this to your own T&Cs.

NB you can now set your T&Cs online in NASGP's LocumDeck.

If you're doing any sort of locum work as part of your portfolio career, you'll definitely need your own personalised Terms and Conditions to help protect both you and the practice you're working for. NASGP's model T&Cs has been specifically developed for us by a specialist employment law firm, and allows you to not only fully adopt all its recommendations, but also to add any necessary clauses, and tailor it to suit your personal needs.

LocumDeck's T&Cs generator allows you to

  • Set your own cancellation sliding scale from 0 to 100% of your booked fee for 0 to 28 days in advance.
  • Include your 14.38% employer's pension contributions
  • Legal employment status
  • Tax status, IR35 etc
  • Duties (on-call, triage etc)
  • Private fees (HGV medical etc)
  • Cremation fees
  • Payment terms (14 days? 28 days?)
  • Plus much more.

As an NASGP member, go to your T&Cs generator, choose your settings and then save. You'll then be given a unique link "View my TCs" which will automatically be added to your automated invoices and session request emails, or you can paste the link into your own website.

As an added bonus, you can update your T&Cs as often as you like, with each change being saved in an archive accessible by your practices for extra confidence.

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What makes you an employee for the purposes of employment law can depend on about 15 different factors.

To protect both the GP and the practice, we advise having a conversation about your duties with the practice manager sooner rather than later, and taking any necessary legal advice, to make sure both parties are clear about your contractual status.

Long-term status for the purposes of NHS pensions

Mission creep

There are as many reasons for working as a locum GP as there are GP locums. Some of us enjoy working in lots of different practices: spreading best practice; supporting practices in difficulty; offering patients a fresh approach to their care; a second opinion, and focusing on direct patient contact. Whereas others love continuity of care, building therapeutic relationships with patients and getting more involved with the running of the practice on a day-to-day basis.

Often, if just covering a few sessions for a practice, one would expect to simply deal with the patients seen in surgery that day and any necessary paperwork resulting from those consultations (such as writing referral letters etc), and this is what one would generally be charging the practice for.

If working again at that practice over the coming weeks and months, one would expect to results of investigations, tests and referrals to start returning to the practice. These results and correspondence would either go back to that patient's usual GP (if there is one) or one of the other practice GPs. But if no-one is available, and especially if you requested these tests, it's quite likely that these results will be given to you to deal with.

Of course, this may well be all part of what you really value in working as a GP, but it does take time beyond that which you may have initially agreed, and could start to eat into the time you'd normally allocate to your other roles. By being such an obliging GP, no doubt too you could soon become the go-to GP who all the staff find so helpful, and find your workload rising exponentially - greatly increasing your value to the practice, but also having a potentially huge impact on your work-life balance.

Set boundaries

All of this is quite containable to begin with, but if not controlled early on could just get out of hand. Our advice is, if the same level of workload is set to continue, after a certain amount of time and/or workload e.g.

  • two sessions a week for six weeks, or
  • six sessions a week for two weeks

To either

  • negotiate more pay, pro-rata, or
  • reduce the number of patients seen during a session and replace that patient-contact time with administration time.
Consider adding this to your own T&Cs.

NB you can now set your T&Cs online in NASGP's LocumDeck.

If you're doing any sort of locum work as part of your portfolio career, you'll definitely need your own personalised Terms and Conditions to help protect both you and the practice you're working for. NASGP's model T&Cs has been specifically developed for us by a specialist employment law firm, and allows you to not only fully adopt all its recommendations, but also to add any necessary clauses, and tailor it to suit your personal needs.

LocumDeck's T&Cs generator allows you to

  • Set your own cancellation sliding scale from 0 to 100% of your booked fee for 0 to 28 days in advance.
  • Include your 14.38% employer's pension contributions
  • Legal employment status
  • Tax status, IR35 etc
  • Duties (on-call, triage etc)
  • Private fees (HGV medical etc)
  • Cremation fees
  • Payment terms (14 days? 28 days?)
  • Plus much more.

As an NASGP member, go to your T&Cs generator, choose your settings and then save. You'll then be given a unique link "View my TCs" which will automatically be added to your automated invoices and session request emails, or you can paste the link into your own website.

As an added bonus, you can update your T&Cs as often as you like, with each change being saved in an archive accessible by your practices for extra confidence.

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It's safe to say that as GPs, we often have a great sense of duty to practices and can find it exceptionally hard to refuse help when our input is genuinely needed. But if we neglect to contain the expectations of practices to a sustainable level that each of us can comfortably manage, it could just end up with us becoming the patient. And that's of no use to anyone.

Listen to our podcast on long-term locuming

This FAQ

  • Explains the often confusing technical context of the NHS pension scheme when it applies to long term work.
  • Gives the updated (March 2018) advice on using Locum A and Locum B beyond six months.
  • Explains the alternatives, and compares the pros and cons of each.
  • Updates advice about Form SOLO.
View FAQ

 

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Thriving as a GP locum

Over 4,000 downloads, over 40 pages on everything you need to thrive as a GP locum. Download How to thrive as a GP locum.

LocumDeck-2-gif
  • There is a strict 10-week deadline (based on the last day in that month for which you're submitting a Locum B form) for declaring your pensionable GP Locum work.
  • You also must submit a month's Locum B form by the 7th day of that Locum B form's following month (e.g. if you've created a Locum B form for March, you have to submit it by the 7th April).
  • Your tiered employee contribution rate is based on your total Practitioner (GP) pensionable income for the year, so this may need to be reviewed at year-end. It's apparently up to you to assess this and actively liaise with your relevant pension agency to arrange any corrections of under or over-payments.

 Pension blogs