It’s time to make progress with your pay

By Alice Sorby on 17 February 2021 Pay and Agenda For Change Pay Covid-19

You’ve finished a 12-hour shift, you’ve just come through the door and there’s nothing in the fridge - the last thing you should have to worry about is pay progression. The 1 April 2021 is  the first date that pay step decisions may be made under the new pay progression framework in England – the Agenda for Change handbook annex that covers pay progression is probably not something maternity staff have had much time to think about. Rest assured, the principles of the handbook still apply and that all external factors out of your control should not play a part when it comes to your progression. 

The NHS Staff Council Executive (of which the RCM is a member) has produced guidance in the context of the pandemic, which helpfully highlights what the pay progressions standard are and the potential COVID-19 impact. The guidance also recognises that there hasn’t been much, if any, capacity for appraisals or opportunities for staff to meet all nationally agreed standards in the past year.

If you are worried about not meeting all the standards, factors out of your control are taken into account and should not prevent you from progressing. This rule applies to the pandemic, but it existed in our ‘old normal’ too. The handbook states: ‘Where factors beyond the individual’s control, such as organisational or operational issues, have prevented compliance with any of the requirements in paragraph 19, these should not prevent the employee from progressing.’

Some midwives and MSWs may have been absent from work in the past year including when the pay step meeting is due, you may have experienced long term COVID, COVID sickness absence or have been shielding it’s important that staff are treated fairly and equitably.

On this principle, the handbook states: ‘If an individual is on long-term paid absence such as maternity, adoption and shared parental leave and a pay step review cannot be conducted prior to the pay step date, the pay step point should be automatically applied in the individual’s absence, subject to paragraph 44.’

The NHS Staff Council guidance outlines how employers can decide on a trust wide basis not to proceed with pay step review meetings – due to the impact of COVID and how they can use the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) to open pay step points – this is supported by guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care. If not already on the agenda, RCM reps can raise this through local JNC.

If you have any concerns about your appraisal or pay progression, please contact your RCM workplace representative in the first instance. If you do not have a rep or you’re not sure who your rep is, you can contact the RCM on 0300 303 0444.

Annex 23 – the pay progression framework applies with affect from:

  • 1 April 2019, all new starters to the NHS and existing staff who were promoted would come under the new pay progression arrangements
  • 1 April 2021, all staff would come under the new arrangements