Update: NHS Employers have shared their FAQ's providing background on the recent pay offer and answering questions on consolidated and non-consolidated payments. View the NHS Employers FAQ's here.
As SoR members await consultation on the latest pay offer for England, our answers to the common questions below will help clarify the detail of the offer and the terminology used in negotiations.
For all NHS staff working under Agenda for Change terms and conditions in England there will be:
Details of the offer are in the link below:
The Government also made clear in making the offer that one part could not be accepted without the other.
The offer does not apply in Wales, where there are ongoing separate negotiations via the Welsh NHS Partnership Forum. We expect a separate offer to be made imminently.
In Northern Ireland, there is no Government in session to make an offer. Currently elections are expected in May. Without a sitting Government only the Westminster Secretary of State for Northern Ireland could authorise the payment of any offer. They have not yet indicated if they wish to do so.
We will consult members in Northern Ireland separately as the situation becomes clearer.
Non-consolidated means a one off payment which will not be added to the pay scales and will not be used to calculate the value of any future awards. Nor does it count towards the calculation of the 5% for 2023-24.
A consolidated payment means the value of your basic pay is permanently increased by, in this case for 23-24 5%. Future increases will build upon this 5% increase. It is also used for on-going pension contributions.
Diverting money towards higher short term non-consolidated payments is therefore not desirable as these have no retained value.
The offer is below the current rate of inflation – meaning it offers another real term cut in the value of members’ basic pay.
Some are seeking to argue that by adding the 5% and the 6% bonus together the value of the award is comparable with inflation (currently 10.4%) This is misleading. Inflation measures the rate at which prices are increasing. If the inflation rate falls it doesn’t mean prices are falling, only that they are rising more slowly. The 6% bonus is a one-off payment and so can only be spent once. The permanent repeated part of the award is only worth 5% - less than half the current rate of inflation.
Last year Government initially argued the 4% award was in line with inflation in April 2022 even though by the time the award was paid (in November) inflation had climbed to around 11%. This year they are arguing that the 5% is fair as inflation will fall during 2023-24. They say inflation will fall to below 3%. However, February saw inflation rise to more than forecast and many, including the Bank of England don’t expect inflation to fall much below 5% by April 2024. Even if inflation did fall below 5% in early 2024, it will have averaged more than 5% during 2023 and so this offer will have meant wages had not kept up with prices over the year.
The SoR will hold an online consultation, also referred to as an Indicative Ballot, on the offer. Dates for this will be confirmed shortly, after UK Council have decided on what, if any, recommendation to make to members.
This will ask members to indicate if they support accepting or rejecting the offer.
It will also ask all those answering to indicate if they would support taking industrial action to seek to improve the offer.
If the indicative ballot demonstrates a high level of support, then we will accept the offer.
If, however there is support to reject the offer and the indicative ballot shows significant support for industrial action we will consider issuing a formal postal ballot for industrial action, in line with relevant legislation.
This is an internal consultation – which can be done online – where members indicate if they would support industrial action. Unions use indicative ballots to assess support if any formal industrial action ballot will have enough likely support to be worth running. The law dictates formal industrial action ballots must happen by postal ballot.
The threat of industrial action can prompt employers back to negotiations. However, a ballot that is then unsuccessful – either because members do not support industrial action or because not enough members participate to reach the legal thresholds imposed in England – can seriously undermine a union’s credibility in future negotiations. This is why we seek an early indication of the likely outcome before any formal postal ballot. It is important that all membership details are up to date.
Industrial action could take many forms - from action short of strike action (e.g., working only to your contract, taking breaks, not working overtime) to taking legal strike action and not attending work.
The SoR would only ever take strike action as a last resort and with strong support across members impacted by the issue. We have taken action short of strike action and strike action in the recent past. When doing so we have worked closely with employers to minimise risk to patients and would do so again, as colleague unions did in their recent industrial action.
All members directly impacted by the offer will be asked if they support industrial action in the indicative ballot. All those members could potentially be asked to participate in any industrial action we go on to call. However, before doing so we will review the position after the indicative ballot and feedback from ongoing briefings
Yes – they are protected in law and have the same employment rights as other staff employed in the NHS. The SoR would support any member challenged by their employer for taking part in legal industrial action.
More detailed guidance will be prepared for International Recruits and any other members concerned about feeling additionally vulnerable. This would be issued before any action was called.
Have you moved workplace or home recently? Do we have your preferred email address or mobile number on our database?
It is quick and easy to update your details. You can do this online via the ‘My Account’ area after logging into www.sor.org or by contacting the membership team on 0207 740 7200 or [email protected].
Make sure the SoR has your up to date home address, preferred email address, mobile phone number and main NHS workplace.
Image: Oleksandr Melnyk/ iStock Getty Images Plus
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