AUTHOR: PAUL MOLONEY, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS MANAGER
We have launched a campaign to empower reps to use local job matching/job evaluation policies and procedures to ensure members are properly rewarded for the job they do.
We know there is widespread concern that many jobs are incorrectly banded. This means members could be paid incorrectly because their roles have not been through the process to establish the appropriate banding using the contractually agreed procedures and criteria. This may have led to many jobs being banded at 5 when they should be 6, or at band 6 when they should be band 7. However, we do have to accept the possibility that some jobs are paid at a higher band than they should, but we expect this to be far less prevalent than the undervaluing of jobs.
Two main problems have been identified in discussion with members and have been referred to in motions at the Annual Delegates Conference. The first is that when jobs are created, or changed, often when people leave, the partnership approach to assessing the banding of a job is ignored and banding is determined unilaterally. Often this is by a manager with no expertise or experience of the process required in Agenda for Change (AfC), resulting in a band 6 job, for example, being replaced with a band 5 post.
This is not the case in every trust or board and part of this campaign is to identify good practice, which would mean compliance with the requirements of AfC and focusing on those that breach the agreements.
The second problem we have identified is the growing use of split contracts where, for example, part of the duties are banded at 6 and some at 7 with the member only receiving band 7 pay for the time they are actually working on the band 7 duties, and band 6 pay for the rest of the time.
AfC is very clear on this. It is not permissible as the following link shows. Any job with duties that fall into two different bands should be paid at the higher rate. The following can be found on page 318 of the document available here.
Part 2: Pay Part 2: Section 1 (England and Wales): Pay Structure
Paragraph 6 Footnote number 3
Where a post holder’s role has been determined (based on one contract of employment) and it includes specialist responsibilities - is it permissible for an employee to be paid at the specialist pay band on days when they do specialist duties and at a lower pay band when they do not?
No, the higher specialist pay band applies for all of their service.
Check your job description is current
The first phase of the campaign, training reps to be able to advise members, is underway. Courses have already been held and more are following.
The second phase is to make sure members are aware so, at the appropriate time, they can insist on their job description being put through the local job matching/job evaluation procedure. The starting point for this phase is for members to ensure their job description (JD) is up to date.
There are two main opportunities for members to insist on their JD accurately reflecting their duties and for it to be evaluated, if it has not been or if it has changed significantly.
You must have an appraisal
A requirement of the 2018 pay deal is that all members must have an appraisal. Managers are performance assessed on whether appraisals have been completed. Those due pay progression will only progress to their next pay point if they have completed appraisals on the individuals they line manage, so members should use this as an opportunity to discuss their JD and insist it is up to date and agree amendments if it is not.
Potentially this could produce significant work but it is both essential and a requirement of AfC that job descriptions properly reflect the duties of a post. Where this does create significant work that is because JDs have not been regularly updated and instead have been left unchanged and unassessed for a considerable period of time.
The second opportunity for members to request their JD is current comes with the introduction of the Quality Standard for Imaging, which was previously known as the Imaging Services Accreditation Scheme. Details of the scheme can be found here.
Charlotte Beardmore, the SCoR director of professional policy explains, “This is something the Society and College have put significant resources into and is encouraging departments to strive towards reaching the standards required."
She continues, "Quality improvement processes and, ultimately, service accreditation, requires that JDs are up to date and therefore reps should ensure managers speak with their staff to jointly review all JDs. Reps, including union learning reps where we have them, should be encouraging their employers to engage with the joint College’s Quality Improvement agenda, and to seek accreditation."
Up to date job descriptions is the fundamental step in the campaignwhich enables members to use the provisions in the NHS Job Evaluation handbook, which can be accessed here.
Members should read this in detail and where they believe their amended up to date JD has not yet been evaluated, they should ensure it is sent to the local Job Evaluation Panel so that it can be. This should also be the case for any new jobs, particularly those created as a result of someone leaving and reps should try and ensure this happens. Nothing can be done to start addressing the problem unless JDs properly reflect the work done, so we cannot stress enough that members discuss their job description with their managers.
A reading of the Handbook shows that the NHS believes having up to date, correctly banded jobs ensures motivated staff, better patient care, and compliance with employment law including the Equality Act. We expect managers and employers to recognise and embrace our campaign in this spirit.
The Handbook also makes it very clear that the process is carried out in partnership with the trade unions with local panels required to include local staff side participation. While it would be naïve of us to anticipate that all NHS employers will welcome our campaign, members and reps should feel confident that this is all about publicising the contractual requirements of AfC. Requirements are there to ensure the NHS does not break equality legislation by discriminating unlawfully.
The campaign is in the interests not just of members, but also their patients and their employers.
Here is a checklist of the key steps to ensure you and your colleague's skills are rewarded in the way intended by the introduction of AfC.