Association of Optometrists launches new membership grade to support members through parental leave

Providing support to members through parental leave and for their return to work

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) announces its new unique Parental Leave membership grade for members on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

The new grade is designed to support members at a time in their life when it's needed most – helping them to overcome the challenges often faced following parental leave and supporting them in their return to work.    

Available from 1 January 2017, the new Parental Leave grade allows members to benefit from up to 12 months membership for free*.

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: “The AOP is delighted to launch this new grade which aims to help members as they go through an important personal change in their lives. It is in tune with our ethos to make sure members are fully supported at every stage of their career. Many people can find parental leave an expensive time, with more pressures on finances coupled with a drop in salary, and we want to take the pressure off through our payment freeze.”

Ms Alderman continued by saying: “Allowing members on parental leave to access our benefits such as education and training can help make the return to work a less daunting prospect. It is vital that the mechanisms are in place to help members return confidently and ensure that talent in the sector is retained."      

Those opting for the grade will have access to the range of AOP member benefits including:

  • Insurance cover for their previous period of membership and up to 10 keeping in touch days whilst on parental leave
  • Access to AOP’s in-house legal, clinical and regulatory expertise including the employment law team
  • World class CET in print, online and at free or discounted events across the country to keep knowledge up to date whilst on leave
  • Regular news and features via our award winning monthly journal, Optometry Today 
  • A chance to continue to have their say on the big issues affecting the profession

While available to all members who have been a member of the AOP for a minimum 12 month period, the new package responds to the needs of AOP’s female demographic – as an increasing number of women choose optometry as a career. Members starting a family will benefit from easy access to learning opportunities and up-to-date industry knowledge, professional advice as well as that important touch-point to the profession for the duration of their leave.

The AOP is introducing a number of new initiatives for members in 2017. More information is available online at  

From 1 January 2017, AOP members who are currently on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or who are due to go on leave, should contact the AOP membership team on 020 7549 2010 or email [email protected] for more information.


For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2063.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists and other optical professionals in the UK. We support our community of more than 16,500 members to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. As a founding member of the Optical Confederation we work with others to improve eye health for the public good. For more information, visit

Optometry Today

Optometry Today (OT) has an audience of 15,000 members and subscribers. OT was named as the ‘Best Professional Association or Royal College magazine’ at the MemCom 2016 Awards. Organised by MemCom – the networking organisation for membership marketing professionals – the awards recognise and celebrate excellence within the membership sector. The OT website offers subscribers exclusive access to over 65 CET exams per year, including bi-monthly CET video content. For more information, visit

*Terms and conditions apply: this grade cannot be applied retrospectively; members can remain on this grade whilst on leave only and for a period of up to a maximum of 12 months; this grade is available to only one parent per child; and this grade requires ongoing GOC membership.

For more information, or to apply for Parental Leave from 1 January 2017, please contact the AOP membership team on 020 7549 2010 or [email protected]