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Scotland junior doctors dispute:   Key information

Junior doctors in Scotland deserve better.

Pay erosion of 28.5 percent for foundation doctors since 2008.

A broken pay review process.

An impossible job in an overstretched NHS.

HCSA Scotland is calling for pay restoration to retain, recruit and reward junior doctors in Scotland.

The Scottish Government must make an offer that is acceptable to all junior doctors in Scotland. There must be a significant award for this year and a plan to restore pay to 2008 levels.

HCSA Scotland junior doctors have voted overwhelmingly to strike, and voted to reject the initial Scottish Government offer. It’s time to use our mandate and make our voices heard.


Eligible junior doctors were due to strike from Wednesday 12th July to Saturday 15th July.

HCSA Scotland members have voted to suspend this strike in order to consider a new pay offer from the Scottish Government.

Members should attend work as normal on the suspended strike dates.

Who can participate?

HCSA junior doctor and dentist members working in secondary care in Scotland, including locally employed junior doctors and dentists, can take part in this round of strikes.

We will contact you if there are any anomalies which mean you cannot strike.

If you work solely in the private sector, in academia or as a locum then you will not be eligible to participate in any strike action. Self-employed locums can agree to or decline shifts, so if you are in this position we strongly recommend you turn down shifts in NHS hospitals on strike days.

If you are in any doubt about the specific circumstances you face, call 01256 770999 for help or email


What about the recent pay offer?

The Scottish Government made a pay offer to doctors in training in Scotland, which represented 7.5 percent in total for last year and a further 6.5 percent for this year.

The offer included a proposed junior doctor pay bargaining review taskforce with the remit of building a new pay bargaining system in Scotland to prevent pay erosion.

HCSA representatives canvassed every junior doctor member and overwhelmingly members told us the offer was not good enough. The figures were too far from pay restoration and detail was lacking on how the taskforce would enable us to meet pay restoration.

HCSA Scotland junior doctors have spoken. You have rejected the offer. By striking, we will show the Scottish government we are serious in our fight for pay restoration.

Am I protected for striking?

Doctors, like other UK employees, have the right to take part in lawful industrial action, including strike, under employment law. The GMC has confirmed thisThere are legal protections from unfair dismissal for the first 12 weeks of taking lawful industrial action, and there is limited protection after 12 weeks. 

It is possible that an employer could attempt to discipline you for striking, but it would be impractical and counter-productive where there are many employees taking action at once. HCSA will coordinate with other unions to make it difficult for employers to target individual members. If any employers decide to take action against HCSA members for participating in strike, HCSA will provide support to affected members.   

Striking does not break continuous employment if you return to work after the strike ends.

Will striking affect my current visa?

If you are absent from work to participate in legally organised strike action, then this will not affect your work visa and your sponsorship cannot be withdrawn on these grounds.  

Reduction in your pay as a result of strike action also will not affect your work visa. Your employer is legally required to report reductions in pay to the Home Office, but if it is as a result of legally organised action then this cannot be used to end your sponsorship.

Please be aware that consecutive, unauthorised absences of 10 days or more are reportable to the Home Office, including those related to strike action. HCSA is committed to planning strike actions in such a way as to protect the status of migrant doctors’ visas. In the event that actions will affect your unauthorised absence period, contact HCSA for advice on

Please also see government 'Workers and Temporary Workers'  guidance.

Will striking affect my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

If you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), absence related to strike action will not have a negative impact on your application. Your employer will have to provide a list of absences from work to support your application, but any related to strike action will not detriment the decision.  

Reductions in salary as a result of strike action will not have a negative impact on ILR applications. Your employer should confirm your gross annual salary to demonstrate you meet required thresholds in Immigration Rules.  

Please be aware that consecutive, unauthorised absences of 10 days or more are reportable to the Home Office, including those related to strike action. HCSA is committed to planning strike actions in such a way as to protect the status of migrant doctors’ visas. In the event that actions will affect your unauthorised absence period, contact HCSA for advice on  

For more information, please see the Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules Sept 2019.

What about patient safety?

Employers are ultimately responsible for maintaining the safe provision of their services during all times, including during strike action. Employers will identify emergency cover from within the ranks of senior doctors and other staff grades. 

For more information, read the GMC’s position on industrial action.

Patients are already suffering because of policy on pay. Vacancies are rising, as doctors leave NHS Scotland because they don’t feel valued. That’s why this action is so crucial – a proper pay award will help retain junior doctors. Strike action is not a decision doctors take lightly, but we need to make the government understand that the current situation cannot go on.  

What about derogations?

Derogations are agreements between the employer and the union that exempt some union members from striking to provide life-and-limb cover.

HCSA is of the view that emergency cover on strike days should be provided by senior doctors acting down in the first instance. This will involve senior doctors having to forgo their usual work. Employers are ultimately responsible for maintaining the safe provision of their services during all times, including during strike action. Employers are assisted in making the necessary arrangements as a result of being given two weeks' notice of strike action.

It is not reasonable for employers to call striking junior doctors back into work in emergency scenarios that have arisen as a result of short-staffing and the employer’s failure to plan ahead.

The only exception is in the case of a major unforeseen external incident of national significance, for example involving significant casualties or multiple agencies. If you are unsure whether these circumstances apply, escalate this to HCSA national office for support without delay on or call 01256 770999

For more information, read the GMC’s position on industrial action.


What if I am not an HCSA member?

It’s not too late to join HCSA Scotland to participate in the action. Where there are strikes in your workplace, junior doctors can join HCSA at any point to take part in the action.

If you aren’t a union member, we strongly advise joining HCSA to participate. Only union members will have full information about strike plans and receive union representation if you were to experience any backlash from your employer.

Members of another trade union cannot take part in action that is not endorsed by their own union, as you will not have legal protection. Members of multiple unions can participate in HCSA action so long as you hold an HCSA membership.

What happens on strike days?

The most important action you can take on strike day is to not go to work. Eligible junior doctor members will be expected to withdraw labour by not going into work on the days you are striking. This strike is a full stoppage of work. This means we are expecting members to withdraw all labour including on-call shifts, nights and non-resident work.

You will also be expected not to carry out any work-related tasks, including from home.

You will be going without pay on strike days and can therefore spend the time how you wish.

HCSA's Disputes Commitee will choose a certain number of hospitals at which to run HCSA pickets. A picket is where members come together to demonstrate outside their own workplace. We will communicate directly with members who work at any hospitals where HCSA is running pickets. If you do not hear from HCSA, please assume we are not organising a picket at your workplace and therefore do not attend your workplace on strike day.

Please note that members should only attend pickets at their own workplace. To attend a different workplace would be considered unlawful secondary picketing.

Will I be paid?

You will not be paid for strike days.

Pay will be deducted from your wage slip by your employer for the working days you missed due to strike. No deductions should be made for days where you were not rostered in work.

If you have any concerns regarding deductions to your wages for strike, contact for advice.

I can’t afford to strike.

The end goal of industrial action is to secure a higher pay award. Going without pay on strike days can be extremely challenging, but this sacrifice is an important tool to get your employer to recognise your value and, ultimately, to increase your pay.

However, we understand for some members striking can be very financially challenging. HCSA may be able to offer a limited hardship payment to members in exceptional circumstances. Contact for more info.

What happens if I am not scheduled to work on strike days?

If you are not scheduled to work on strike days, you should not have your wages deducted.

You are still entitled to join in pickets, where scheduled, like any other eligible junior doctor in order to demonstrate your commitment to the issues in dispute.

Your manager may ask you to work overtime on this date and it is important that you refuse, otherwise you are reducing the effectiveness of your colleagues’ actions.

Do I need to tell my employer I am striking?

No. Your employer can ask whether or not you intend to strike but you are not obliged to respond and you can change your mind regardless of what you have told your manager. 

You may wish to tell your manager that you are striking in order to assist your employer in making plans for cover.

Managers must not intimidate or bully employees. If you experience this, escalate to HCSA national office on or call  01256 770999

What happens if I am on annual leave or study leave on strike days?

Your employer must pay you as usual if you are on annual leave or study leave that coincides with strike days. 

We strongly advise you not to cancel annual leave or study leave if you have plans, since strikes can be called off at the last minute and you may then end up having to work on these days.

If your leave is cancelled, this becomes a work day and you would be eligible to strike.

if you cannot participate in the action due to leave, you may wish to support your colleagues by contributing to the strike fund

Is HCSA coordinating with other unions?

Yes. HCSA is in regular contact with medical unions and broader health unions. HCSA is seeking as far as possible to coordinate strike dates to maximise the impact of member actions.

I’m due to go on maternity or already on maternity

If you are on maternity leave on strike days, you cannot participate in the strike because you would not otherwise be working. You can however support your striking colleagues by sending messages of solidarity, visiting the picket lines or donating to the strike fund

If you are due to go on maternity leave you are exempt from participating in strike action. This is because striking could affect your eligibility to maternity pay, or reduce the amount of maternity pay you receive. If you’d like to discuss further, contact HCSA at or phone 01256 770999 so we can advise.