Opinion

NHS pay – one step at a time

03 October 2018

The basic pay journey of NHS staff has had a reset. Sarah Carpenter, Unite’s head of health, asks how the new framework for pay progression affects you.

Following the implementation of the NHS pay deal in England, and with Wales recently voting to accept the deal, unions are continuing to work with employers in several areas.

These include the removal of Band 1, sorting out pay for apprentices (including degree apprenticeships), a national framework for the buying and selling of annual leave, a new part of Agenda for Change to cover child bereavement leave and enhanced statutory parental leave, and – perhaps the largest part of ongoing work – a new national framework for pay progression.

Staff will stay for longer on each pay step, but will make a bigger financial jump when they step up

The new pay progression system is expected to be introduced in April 2019, and will replace the system that is so familiar – that of automatic annual progression to the top of the band. The time taken to get to the top will be shorter (or the same) for all bands, and there will be just two to three ‘pay steps’ in each band. That means that staff will stay for longer on each pay step, but will make a bigger financial jump when they step up.

The progression will be based on annual appraisals, and it is expected that all staff will pass them – unlike many performance-related pay systems where it is expected that a number of staff will not.

This highlights the importance of engaging in the appraisal process, flagging up any issues of concern and making sure statutory and mandatory training is undertaken. To do that, Unite will be looking for people keen to take up the role of a representative who specialises in appraisals and pay progression, so that members can be advised and supported through the new process, and who can pick up any appeals against poor decisions that members may need to make. getting involved If you – or anyone you know – is interested in getting more involved in this way, please let your regional officer know. We will be providing training for these roles, and the members who undertake them will become experts in pay progression, and a vital part of the Unite reps family.

For the next three years, existing staff will progress through the bands as outlined in their pay journey – for information on this, go to the nhspay.org joint unions website, or the NHS Employers pay journey tool at nhsemployers.org/paytool – and the new pay progression system will be for new staff.

Unite has continued to voice the concerns of our members that none of the deals repair the damage done to pay by the years of austerity, and the public sector pay cap inflicted on the NHS since 2010, first by the coalition and then by the Conservative Government.


What about Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Union members in the NHS in Scotland also voted to accept their pay deal, which had differences to the England agreement – see nhspayinscotland.org

In Northern Ireland, while discussions are happening about pay, and how the deal may work, there is no government in place to make a decision to move forward.

Image credit | Sam Kerr

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