Newly qualified nurses would lose one of the two incremental pay rises they are currently supposed to receive in their first year, under proposals being put forward by government negotiators, Nursing Times has learnt.
NHS Employers, which is negotiating on behalf of the government, has clarified proposals on the changes it wants to see to incremental pay rises for new starters.
Health unions and employers are in early talks about making changes to the national Agenda for Change pay framework, as trusts look to save money from the NHS paybill.
As reported last month, unions had suggested NHS Employers wanted to end incremental pay rises for band 5 staff during their first two years after qualifying.
Although it did not dispute this at the time, NHS Employers has subsequently said this is not the case. A spokesman told Nursing Times that instead it wants to remove the link between “accelerated” pay progression and preceptorships for newly-qualified nurses.
Under the proposals, new starters to band 5 would only be eligible for one incremental pay increase in the first year, rather than the two-step rise they are supposed to receive at present.
This has been an area of contention for a number of years. Some trusts have already been attempting to avoid giving newly qualifieds two increment rises in their first year. Often they have claimed that they are not obliged to do so because they do not offer preceptorship schemes.
However, unions have disputed this, arguing that it is written into the Agenda for Change contract that new nurses should receive two pay rises in recognition of the steep learning curve post qualification, regardless of whether a formal preceptorship scheme is provided or not.
There is growing pressure from local trusts for action on incremental pay rises with a number of organisations, especially in the South West, already looking to explore their own options outside of Agenda for Change.
Unions have vowed to resist moves towards local agreements and regionalised pay.