Scottish nurses are to have their registration fees for a criminal records disclosure service paid for by the NHS.
The Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme was introduced in February 2011 to ensure those working with vulnerable groups did not have a history of harmful behaviour.
Anyone who wished to work with protected groups had to pay a £59 registration fee to join the PVG scheme, and receive a disclosure certificate proving their eligibility for work, much like a CRB check.
The registration fee only had to be paid once, and members could move between different employers without having to reapply for it.
The unions have been in talks with ministers about the possibility of employers footing the PVG bill since 2011.
Scottish health minister Alex Neill has now written to the committee that administers terms and conditions for Scottish NHS advising them that employers would in future pay PVG registration for all staff.
In a letter to the Scottish Terms and Conditions committee for NHS staff, Mr Neill attributed his decision to “ongoing pressures hard working NHS Scotland staff face on their take home pay”.
The fee payment will be available to all nurses who work with protected groups.
Tom Waterson, chair of Unison Scotland’s health committee, said: “This is a wee bit of Christmas cheer to hard working NHS staff, who will be running 24 hour services to the most vulnerable in our society over the Christmas and New Year period.”
He added: “Many staff in the NHS already pay their own personal registration fee, for example nurses who pay £100 per year to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
“At a time of increased pension costs to health staff and years of real terms pay cuts, this is a small but welcome Christmas bonus.”