If you are going on parental leave, then you have the option to suspend your practising certificate. Dependant on which CPD programme you are subject to, this will either automatically reduce or suspend your CPD requirements until you return to practice.
New Practitioners Programme (NPP)
If you are on the New Practitioners Programme and continue to hold your practising certificate whilst on parental leave, then you are open to apply for a waiver or extension of your CPD requirements. If you unregister as a barrister during your leave then the three-year period will pause for the period that you are away from practice. For example, if there are twelve months remaining when you unregister as a barrister, there will still be twelve months remaining when you regain your practising certificate.
More information can be found on our waivers and extensions page. Note that those who suspend their practising certificate must not hold themselves out as a barrister in connection with the supply of legal services.
Established Practitioners Programme (EPP)
If you are on the Established Practitioners Programme and retain your practising certificate while you are on leave, you will need to create and retain a record which says that you are unable to complete CPD as you are on leave. Established Practitioners are not required to obtain a waiver or an extension from the CPD requirements.
If you do suspend your practising certificate, you will be suspended from CPD requirements until you return to practice. Again, those who suspend their practising certificate must not hold themselves out as a barrister in connection with the supply of legal services.
“Keeping Your Hand In”
If you are taking a period of parental leave, if possible, we encourage you to keep your practising certificate and complete your required CPD activities. This is to help you to maintain your practice, keep yourself up to date and place you in a stronger position when you return to work. “Keeping in touch” days can also be beneficial.
“Keeping in Touch” Days
If you are taking a period of parental leave, you are encouraged to maintain contact with your chambers or employer. Keeping in Touch (KIT) days are intended to help you keep in touch with your chambers/employer and can help ease your return to work. You are allowed to work as a self-employed person for up to ten KIT days during your Maternity Allowance period without losing any Allowance. If you want to do any billable work during your KIT days, then you will need your practising certificate and CPD Plan to be up to date.
It is recommended that Heads of Chambers take steps to ensure that you are:
- offered opportunities to do appropriate work if this is requested;
- Invited to training events, social occasions, marketing events and chambers meetings;
- consulted on any significant issues affecting the practice of chambers; and
- assisted with the re-establishment of your practice on return to work, including (where requested) the arrangement of a “practice meeting” with the relevant clerk within two weeks before you return to work.
Even if you have suspended your practising certificate (and hence your CPD requirements) and you are unsure as to when or whether you will return to practice, it is still recommended that you arrange a series of “ice-breaker” sessions with your chambers with the aim of helping to make your return to work easier and less daunting.
Equality Rules in the BSB Handbook
A number of our Equality Rules have been designed to assist self-employed barristers with parental responsibilities. The rules at section rC110 require chambers and entities to:
- Have in place a written parental policy which covers:
- the right of a member of chambers to return to chambers after a specified period (which must be at least 1 year) of parental leave;
- the extent to which a member of chambers is or is not required to contribute to chambers’ rent and expenses during parental leave. This includes, but is not limited to, the method of calculation of any waiver, reduction or reimbursement of chambers’ rent and expenses during parental leave;
- the procedure for dealing with grievances under the policy; and
- chambers’ commitment to review regularly the effectiveness of the policy.
- Where rent is paid on a flat rate basis, chambers must offer members taking a period of parental leave, or leave following adoption, a minimum of six months free of chambers’ rent.
- Chambers must have a written flexible working policy which covers the right of a member of chambers to take a career break, to work part-time, to work flexible hours or to work from home to enable them to manage their family responsibilities or disability and remain in practice.
- If you have any queries or concerns about the approach your chambers is taking you can call the Bar Council’s equality and diversity helpline for an anonymous and confidential discussion. The number is 020 7611 1310.
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