NHS Employers, which represents NHS trusts in England, has agreed the arrangements with representatives of unions.
Trusts will now be expected to conform to a series of minimum standards to ensure nurses are not left unnecessarily on sick pay, or no pay, because of injury or illness for long periods of time.
Staff who are ill or injured but can continue in another role will be encouraged to stay on.
And a new two-tier ill-health retirement system will mean that those who will not be able to work at all receive more money, rather than those deemed likely to be able to find work elsewhere.
Richard Parker, staff side chair of the ill health retirement review, said: ‘When a return to work is not possible, the pension provisions will support staff who are not able to work again.
‘This gives NHS managers a clear system for making prompt and appropriate decisions about staff when they are off sick.’