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Employers bid to chip away at incremental pay rises

  • 14 Comments

NHS employers are gearing up for a nationwide attempt to reduce the incremental pay rises that nurses and other staff currently receive, it has been revealed.

Details of the changes that NHS Employers, the body that represents trusts in negotiations, wants to make to the Agenda for Change pay framework were given by Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea at a union conference in Brighton.

According to Ms McAnea, under the early proposals from the employer side, automatic incremental pay rises would be scrapped for band 5 staff in their first two-year preceptorship.

For all other bands, employers want a ceiling to be put in place beyond which incremental pay would be discretionary, based on performance.

Meanwhile, the employers want to see an end to enhanced payments to staff who are on sick leave.

Incremental pay rises in the NHS average 2.5%. They are a continuing target for employers because they increase the overall paybill at a time when health service managers are under pressure to save money.

The proposals were met with derision by some conference delegates who expressed fears employers were attempting to chip away at workers’ terms and conditions.

They follow attempts made in early 2011 by NHS Employers to freeze incremental pay for all NHS staff in England, in exchange for a “no compulsory redundancy” guarantee for some staff. These were rejected by unions.

Unison, along with other unions, is launching a bid to get the views of members on the new proposals before formal discussions start in the summer.

Trusts already have the ability to use performance to decide whether to approve incremental pay rises but many trusts lack the HR capacity or knowledge to do this routinely.

Ms McAnea told Nursing Times the employers’ suggestions had been raised in informal discussions but were not currently formal proposals that had been subject to negotiation.

She said: “The employers are serious about this and we know this is already happening in some areas of England. We hope by trying to resolve things nationally those discussions will go away.”

She said Unison had yet to develop a formal position on the proposals and that the bid to get members’ views was not a formal consultation.

“Agenda for Change already allows the use of performance issues to determine if someone gets a pay rise. The fact they don’t have the systems in place to do that, is their responsibility,” she said. She added: “They seem to want to re-state the case.”

Ms McAnea said Agenda for Change was not an “historical” document that would never be altered.

She said: “It will evolve and change. All national agreements have to be relevant and appropriate to members and employers.”

She urged local branches and regions to give their views on the proposals during May and June, along with other health service unions, ahead of a Staff Council meeting in June.

Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, said: “All pay systems develop over time and we hope that by engaging early we can do things that refine rather than lead to radical overall. Without mature national discussion the local appetite for radical change will accelerate.”

Two trusts in the North East recently scrapped policies on sickness absence under which increments were withheld, following an employment tribunal ruling.

  • 14 Comments

Readers' comments (14)

  • Won't help one little bit in recriutment of student nurses and is likely to encourage new starts to move abraod ASAP

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  • More S--t

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  • here we go again and increase pay of CEO and such eh? Stealing from Paul to pay Peter?????

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  • Hang on a second......

    "automatic incremental pay rises would be scrapped for band 5 staff in their first two-year preceptorship" In theory that's not a bad idea - particularly given that there is much wailing within the profession about newly qualified staff nurses lacking basic nursing skills on graduation and needing lots of training and supervision.

    "a ceiling to be put in place beyond which incremental pay would be discretionary, based on performance" What is wrong with rewarding quality work or should poor quality work be rewarded in the same way?

    "employers want to see an end to enhanced payments to staff who are on sick leave." Why should people get enhanced pay which is compensation for working during anti-social hours when evidently they are not?

    I agree that our current terms and conditions need protecting, but at the same time there is a need to examine some things that might actually make a bit of sense.

    I have never met a single RN who is in this job for the money, so the simplistic "it won't help recruitment/retention" argument is nullified immediately and it also says nothing about using cost savings being used to supplement the wages of executive staff so lets head off the bitching and try and retain some credibility eh?





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  • I do agree with not paying staff shift enhancements when they are off sick because they aren't there so why should they get it. They will still get their basic pay.

    As regards the increments further up the bands being discretionary depending on performance, I think that employers will use every excuse not to pay it, and it would be open to abuse by trusts.

    My trust are considering not paying staff for the first 3 days off sick which would be grossly unfair on those who rarely go off sick.

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  • the household bills still come in when nurses are off sick.

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  • I didn't know you got enhancements when you were off sick, how does this work. I always thought you just got a basic wage.

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  • Any one who thinks discretionary pay rises are fairer must have lost their senses--personnel who fail to tow the gaffers line or brown nose to the managemnt will be given some spurious reason as to why they wont be geting a pay rise this year--don't say it won't happen--I retired April 2010 after 39 yrs as RMN and know what goes on behind closed doors

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  • Anonymous 24th April. 1.17pm

    I know the household bills still come in when you are off sick, but you still get your basic salary, and are not there to earn the enhancement from weekend or nights.

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  • Anonymous | 24-Apr-2012 1:17 pm

    "the household bills still come in when nurses are off sick."

    Yes they do. That is when you have to economise. On the bright side when you are off sick you aren't paying for carparking or fuel/fares, you aren't buying overpriced crap from the canteen either. Swings and roundabouts I guess.

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