The NHS Job Evaluation Group has assessed how to support job matching panels if they are unable to meet in person and wish to work virtually. This guidance sets out principles and a suggested approach.
Following guidance from the Job Evaluation Group (JEG), job evaluation activities were put on hold from March 2020 due to COVID-19 priorities. This included pausing job matching and evaluation panels.
As organisations gradually become able to resume services, JEG has assessed how to support panels if they are unable to meet in person and wish to work virtually.
This guidance, along with an accompanying checklist, has been developed in partnership and with the help of colleagues in Wales and Scotland.
- The panels should operate in partnership. JEG recommends a minimum of two staff side and two management side practitioners.
- There should be plenty of discussion, in which all members of the panel are involved as equals. The chair may have to adjust the pace of the panel to ensure that each member is fully involved. Online meetings can often miss the cues that a participant in the meeting isn’t keeping up.
- Consensus should be reached about the outcome. The usual issues of avoiding bias, suspending personal opinions should apply and nobody on the panel should be too close to the job being assessed.
- The approach should be as in face to face panels. There should be a methodical approach to matching or evaluating a job, with all factors being considered and agreed by all.
- Confidentiality should be observed. Information discussed in the panel should not be shared with other staff and the outcome should not be shared until it has gone through consistency checking and agreed by all.
- Records and an audit trail should be kept. This is very important should the job be involved in a future equal pay claim.
- All outcomes should be subject to consistency checking.
Determining your local approach
As with other job evaluation (JE) processes and issues, work with your local job evaluation leads and JE practitioners to find solutions. Some things to consider are:
- All practitioners should have been trained and sitting on panels before the lockdown
- New and less experienced panel members could be offered the chance to shadow more experienced ones
- There should be an evaluation of how virtual panels are working after they have operated for a while. It will be important to assess whether they are as effective as face to face panels, particularly as regards robustness of outcomes.
Key roles and responsibilities
- Chair, who will ensure the panel operates in accordance with the process set out in the NHS Job Evaluation handbook. The chair should be extra vigilant on the facilitation of the panel and ensure that each panel member has had an opportunity to contribute.
- Administrative support, who will complete and record the information agreed by the panel. This may be done by one of the panel members if this is agreed by all parties.
- JE leads. There should be a staff side and a management side JE lead at the organisation available for advice.
- Practitioners. These are the people who sit on panels, having been trained successfully.
- Job advisors. The job holder or representative of job holders plus their line manager should be available to answer any questions the panel may have.
To ensure your local processes can continue to be applied and adapted to operate on a virtual basis using Microsoft Teams (MS Teams). To support this, the following should be considered:
- MS Teams familiarisation sessions should be offered to panel members as required. These could include a practice virtual panel to run through the process and cover how to use the technology.
- Access should be provided to appropriate IT equipment for panel practitioners to effectively contribute to the work of the panel. Panel members who are not office-based should be assigned a safe and quiet place to work on a virtual panel.
- Ensure panel members are given sufficient time to prepare and take part in panels.
- Job descriptions and any other job information should be made available to panel members in confidence in advance of the panel meeting to maintain the integrity of the process
- Panels should be scheduled for morning or afternoon sessions. Virtual panels should not be timetabled to last more than three hours. Regular breaks should be factored in for members to step away from the computer.
- All panels should include two JE trained management members and two JE trained staff side members. Panels should agree who is going to coordinate discussions and ensure all panel members are able to effectively contribute to the discussions and decisions.
Download the checklist [[virtual.panels.JEG-checklist.pdf]] to ensure you have everything for your panel.