Yes, the national agreement says that local arrangements for determining pay progression should be developed in partnership, based on the guidance in Annex W.
The NHS KSF may be used or other skills/competency frameworks, which are in line with the KSF principles (Section (6a) (England) 6.1). This allows the development of local appraisal / performance review systems which meet local needs and support all staff to have a quality appraisal / performance review. Local appraisal systems should be fair, transparent, measure performance objectively and be clear on the expectations of the appraiser and appraisee.
Local schemes should be as straightforward as possible and focused on organisational values and objectives linked to patient care.
Can behaviours of staff be taken into account as part of the performance assessment?
Yes, overall performance requirements should be seen more widely than just technical competence and knowledge and skills. Employers may want to link performance to the values and behaviours of their organisation so that staff are working to deliver high levels of patient care.
Annex W states that 'in assessing performance an organisation may consider not just whether the objectives have been achieved (or not) but also how they have been achieved'. This would allow staff behaviour, for example, the level of compassionate care given, courtesy towards patients, relatives and colleagues, etc. to be included in the assessment of overall performance.
Annex W, paragraph 1 states that expectations around standards and performance, and how these will be measured, should be made clear.
Is sickness absence a reason to withhold incremental pay progression?
It would be for local employers to determine the criteria by which employees will be assessed. Absence from work may be a factor in assessing an individual’s overall performance at appraisal, but should not automatically trigger withholding an increment.
Recovery and return to work following a period of sickness absence should be supported through the appropriate organisational policy. We encourage employers to actively manage sickness related attendance issues so that they are able to provide an appropriate and effective level of support in helping employees to return to work as soon and as practicable as possible.
Can disciplinary warnings be used to withhold incremental pay progression?
It would be for local employers to determine the criteria by which employees will be assessed. Live disciplinary warnings should not automatically trigger withholding a pay increment. However, a disciplinary warning could be used as a basis for an individual not earning an increment in a given year as a disciplinary warning could be an indicator of an individual's unsatisfactory performance.
Can capability reviews be used to withhold incremental pay progression?
It would be for local employers to determine the criteria by which employees will be assessed. An active capability review should not in itself trigger withholding a pay increment, but may contribute to a decision not to award an increment following an appraisal.
Is it necessary to have an appraisal system in place before incremental progression can be deferred?
Yes, paragraph 2(iii) in Annex W makes it clear that decisions about performance and pay progression will depend on an individual having a regular appraisal / performance review against which informed decisions can be made.
Will employees have rights to appeal appraisal decisions?
The national agreement says that staff can seek a review if their increment is withheld. Guidance on local appeal procedures are set out in Annex S(a) (England).
What does the agreement have to say about training?
There are a number of training needs that will need to be considered. The agreement makes clear that 'every line manger should have access to appropriate training and development in relation to understanding appraisal and their equality responsibilities' (Annex W, 2xi). It is also important that staff receive training on any new appraisal system so they understand how it operates and what is expected of them. It is for employers locally to decide the appropriate level of training that is provided. It is clearly important that all staff understand any new local arrangements along with the level of performance and behaviours which will be expected of them in order to earn an increment. The agreement also says that local appraisal and performance schemes will need to provide appropriate training and support for staff who fail to meet performance requirements.
Can pay progression be linked to the performance of the organisation, including its financial performance?
The agreement focuses on individual performance being assessed while recognising that some personal objectives can be linked to the organisational values and objectives linked to patient care (Annex W; paragraph 4(ii) and Implementation Annex A2(a) (England), Annex W Paragraph 3(iii) Footnote number 7). Organisational objectives over which an individual has no control would not meet the requirements of Annex W.
Is pay progression still automatic?
No, Agenda for Change pay progression has never been automatic. In the past individuals earned their increment by demonstrating that they had met 'satisfactory' levels of performance and by demonstrating agreed knowledge and skills appropriate to their role. The new system makes clear that incremental pay progression is conditional upon meeting locally determined performance standards. It allows local partnerships to define the level of performance that is required for an increment to be awarded. However, incremental pay cannot be withheld where an organisation does not have an appraisal system in place (Implementation Annex A2 (a) (England), Section 1 (a) England Paragraph 9, Footnote number 5).
Can local partnerships design their own appraisal documentation?
Yes, it is important to remember that the key to good appraisal / performance review is the development of a working relationship between the line manager and the person being appraised. The paperwork is to remind the parties of what was said and to provide a checklist of agreed action points; it should not detract from the review conversation and become an end in itself.
Yes, this is a requirement on employers under their public sector equality duty. Guidance on the conduct of local assessments can be found on the Agenda for Change amendments 2013
page. The national assessment of Annex W (England)
established a national baseline of data which described the equality status of Agenda for Change prior to implementation of the proposals. Local organisations will need to undertake their own baseline analysis and then review this in partnership with trade unions after there has been sufficient time for enough data to have been created against which to make a comparison. The Equal Pay Audit toolkit and guidance
can help facilitate this local monitoring.