Incremental pay is to be be held back from nurses who fail to attend training courses or take too many sick days as trusts prepare for public spending cuts, Nursing Times has learnt.
NHS organisations around the country have been looking at ways to improve staff productivity, protect jobs and ensure annual pay rises are earned rather than treated as an automatic right.
Nursing Times has also found evidence that allowances are being scaled down, including recruitment and retention premia, overtime and on call payments.
As of this month, Royal Salford Foundation Trust has decided to defer incremental pay – worth an average of 3.25 per cent of salary on top of the 2.4 per cent headline increase for 2009-10 – for anyone taking more than 28 days of sickness absence a year.
If 56 or more days have been taken off sick in the past year due to illnesses not covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, increments will be deferred by 12 months.
Executive director of organisational development and corporate affairs David Wood said the rules were not aimed at reducing the pay bill.
He said: “Pay progression is a reward, not a right. We believe these increases should be awarded for better performance.”
Nurses who fail to attend mandatory training sessions or are subject to disciplinary procedures will also lose their right to an incremental pay rise.
Mr Wood said the trust was investing in e-learning tools and all staff would have the opportunity to take up training opportunities. The changes will only apply to new starters and voluntary contract changes.
Unison senior national officer Mike Jackson said: “They should be managing sickness absence, not penalising people through pay.”
A Unison steward at Kettering General Hospital also told Nursing Times the trust was redrafting its human resources strategy to spell out that increments will not be handed out by default.
It is also scrapping long-term recruitment and retention premium for new staff and considering introducing a “passport to practice” setting out minimum training standards for clinical staff.
A board report says the trust is also reviewing on-call arrangements and overtime payments.
Chief executive Mark Newbold said: “On annual increments we are not deviating from Agenda for Change terms and conditions of service, and the HR strategy will reflect this.”
Meanwhile Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust is facing a £200,000 funding shortfall due to cost pressures caused by increments, which commissioners hope will be solved through changes to staffing and case mix, board papers show.