Most GP partners will have enjoyed some much needed time off over the Christmas and New Year period and it won’t be long before the next bank holiday arrives. One question which we are frequently asked is how partnerships can fairly apportion bank holidays so that part time partners don’t miss out.
Because the majority of bank holidays fall on a Monday or Friday, a part time partner who does not usually work on either or both of these days may feel they are unfairly ‘losing out’ on any benefits their full time partners receive in relation to bank holidays.
For example, in a job share where partner A works Monday and Tuesday, and partner B works Wednesday to Friday, in 2017 seven bank holidays will fall when partner A is scheduled to work, whilst only one bank holiday will fall on a day when partner B would otherwise be working.
So, how can you best manage this issue?
Because partners are not employees, there is no statutory right to paid bank holidays. How you choose to deal with bank holidays is a commercial decision to be decided between the partners. However, to avoid a potential claim of discrimination, you should ensure that part time partners are treated no less favourably than full time partners and it is sensible to ensure that any scheme you do put in place is fair.
So, what are your options?
- Pro rata entitlement – One route you can take is to add all holiday leave and bank holidays (based on a full time partner) together, then calculate the total leave entitlement pro rata, based on the number of days to be worked. Everyone then gets an equivalent total amount of leave but the problem is that the bank holidays are fixed days so part timers working on a Monday will have less discretion over their days off than those working on, say, a Wednesday. If you regard this as a problem, you could come to an agreement whereby, for example, any partner forced to use more than a given percentage of their total leave allocation on bank holidays is given an additional day of paid leave.
- No adjustment – A less popular option, but one which is followed by some partnerships, is for there to be no adjustment at all for any part time partner. If a bank holiday falls when you are scheduled to work, then lucky you and bad luck if it doesn’t fall on your scheduled day! The problem with this option is it may become hard to persuade part timers to work mid-week.
- Profit Share adjustment – an alternative mechanism is to calculate profit shares based upon actual sessions scheduled to be worked. Since bank holidays are known in advance, the profit shares can be adjusted to account for them. This is a complicated option leading to small annual changes in profit shares and is, therefore, unusual.
Whichever option you choose, the most important thing is to ensure that it is clearly set out in your partnership deed and, of course, that your partnership deed is up to date and valid. Older partnership deeds, in particular, tend not to cater well for part time partners.
Without a valid partnership deed, there will be no formal entitlement to leave of any kind and no clarity – for example, on what you will earn when you are absent, or who should pay for locum cover.
Our handy checklist 8 signs that your Partnership Deed needs an update may help you decide if it’s time to update your old deed.
In our experience, rolling all holiday leave and bank holidays together to generate a pro rata entitlement can work well. However, as we’ve already mentioned, ultimately it is a commercial decision that needs to be taken by partners working in the best interests of the practice.
For more information about partnership deeds, or for any other enquiries, please contact Daphne Robertson on 01483 511555 or email [email protected]