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Agenda for Change and annual leave

VOL: 102, ISSUE: 7, PAGE NO: 65

Nursing Times' ongoing series on Agenda for Change answers your questions about the new pay system for NHS staff.

Nursing Times' ongoing series on Agenda for Change answers your questions about the new pay system for NHSstaff.

Question

I understand that under AfC, nurses will receive more annual leave. I work full-time on a medical ward - there are alwaysstaff shortages and I hardly ever find the time to use up the annual leave I've got. Why did they decide to increase annualleave rather than increase our pay as much as possible?

Answer

The new pay system does indeed offer a better annual leave entitlement for nurses. On average, a nurse should notice theyhave got several annual leave days more than before. The good news is that this leave will grow the longer you are working inthe NHS.

Prior to Agenda for Change, holidays for nurses were usually at least 25 days a year, plus two statutory days, but thatcould vary from trust to trust and some nurses did better than others over the extra days. Nursing auxiliaries often started onjust 20 days annual leave.

One of the foundations of AfC is to be fair and equitable so everyone has the same terms and conditions. That includes thenew annual leave system which says that all staff will get 27 days of annual leave plus eight public holidays. This jumps to 29annual leave days after five years service and 33 days after 10 years service (plus the eight public holidays). The statutorydays have now effectively been incorporated into the overall annual leave count.

The unions argue that improving annual leave was just one positive aspect of the new pay system and better pay was notsacrificed for the annual leave agreement. They wanted to strike a balance between improving pay and better working lives forstaff and one way of doing that was to by guaranteeing nurses good annual leave entitlement.

If you find you are struggling to take your holidays, remember that - just the same as with the old Whitley system - youare still entitled to carry over five days of leave that you were unable to take in the previous year, subject to agreementwith your employer. The only change under AfC is that such a situation can be altered by local agreement, so watch out for anypermanent change being re-negotiated by your employer that might remove your right to carrying over the five days.

There is also an important point here that you should never be made to feel guilty at taking your entitled annual leave.If you are, you should talk to your HR department.

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