One in three NHS organisations intend to tame their salary bills by withholding pay increments from staff, a survey of senior human resources managers indicates.
A survey of more than 100 human resources directors and deputy directors, carried out by Nursing Times’ sister title HSJ in partnership with NHS Employers, asked how likely it was that staff on the Agenda for Change pay framework would have their pay progression stopped in the next year.
In total 30% said it was very likely or likely staff in their organisation would have their pay increments withheld during the next 12 months. A further 39% said they were slightly likely to withhold increments.
The responses indicate a marked determination by NHS organisations to tackle what is known as “incremental drift”, an increase in salary costs as staff progress through pay bands established by Agenda for Change.
The pay framework covers more than a million staff, but not doctors. Around 55% of staff received an increment pay rise in 2012-13, worth on average 3.4 %.
This year the government is insisting that staff who are eligible for increments should be denied the 1% cost of living increase proposed for 2014-15.
Under the government’s proposals, those who do not receive increments because they fall short on performance measures would receive no pay rise at all.
Howard Catton, policy director at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Continued attacks on pay and the prospect of removing incentives, along with the mismatch of supply and demand, means people are going to have to look at the offer they are making to nurses.
“To reduce the offer flies in the face of the logic of what’s happening to the labour market and the forces of supply and demand we are seeing at play. There is an irony that it is market labour forces at work here.”
The survey also revealed that the majority of NHS organisations had introduced reforms that will make pay progression under Agenda for Change dependent on staff meeting performance standards that are agreed locally. These changes were agreed by NHS unions in February 2013.