Do NHS staff get paid when on strike?

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Many NHS staff were involved in industrial action (strikes) during 2022 and 2023, with nurses and junior doctors in particular taking action to try and encourage the UK government to raise pay levels and deliver better working conditions.

For any worker, going on strike is a serious step, with implications on pay and working relations. Importantly, NHS staff who go on strike are not paid for any time they miss working. However, there are some circumstances where pay may be affected differently:

  • If a member of staff is not rostered to be working on a strike day, they should not receive any deduction in pay (even if they attend picket lines or demonstrations)
  • If a member of staff is on annual leave or on a “zero hours” contract, they should not receive any deduction in pay (even if they attend picket lines or demonstrations)
  • Some unions (such as the Royal College of Nursing) have established “strike funds”, allowing staff to apply for funding from their union to make up money lost through not attending work

Does striking affect maternity pay?

Going on strike can affect entitlement to maternity pay. However, in practice it is likely that only a tiny small number of staff who are relatively new to their role would be affected.

The key entitlement in question is Statutory Maternity Pay, which applies to NHS staff who have been in their current role for less than one year. To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you must have worked for 26 continuous weeks in your role. If you are involved in a strike, your employer is legally entitled to deduct that week of continuous service from your record. For example, if you were involved in two strike actions in two separate weeks in your first 26 weeks working at an organisation, you would only have 24 weeks of continuous service, meaning it would take you two more weeks to reach eligibility for Statutory Maternity Pay.

The BMA have a more detailed breakdown of maternity pay issues on their website.

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