We, the Trustees of the Renal Association and Chair of the Equal Opportunities in Nephrology Committee, have assessed the content of the new draft junior doctor’s contract and have read the Department of Health’s related equality analysis. We feel that whilst the analysis acknowledges that people who take career breaks or work part time (80% of whom are women) may be disadvantaged by the contract, the statement that “we do not consider that this would amount to indirect discrimination as the impacts can be comfortably justified” is not acceptable. Any contract that systematically disadvantages a group of employees as a result of gender (or any other protected characteristic) cannot be justified. The proposed changes in pay structure will result in lower pay for people who work part time or take career breaks, which will inevitably increase the gender pay gap; an inequality that many organizations and institutions have been working hard to reduce for years. In addition, the transition of evening weekday hours (7.00 pm to 9.00 pm) and Saturdays to “plain” hours which will be paid at basic rate to ensure 7 day working is cost neutral, but will disadvantage people with young children who have to pay for extra childcare costs at unsocial hours.
Within renal medicine, women account for 55% of our trainees but only 20% of our consultant body. We are perceived to be a hard-working specialty with long hours and we are concerned that the new contract will make the consultant gender gap worse. The impact of the contract is likely to be even more pronounced within paediatric nephrology, which historically has a higher proportion of posts filled by women.
The Renal Association opposes the imposition of the new contract and urges both parties to return to the negotiating table and work to produce a solution that is fair for all concerned.