Guide

SAS 2021 pay progression system guidance

Use our employer guidance on the new pay progression system for both the 2021 specialty and specialist (SAS) grade contracts.

22 November 2022

The new pay progression system will:

  • Enable doctors to reach the top of the pay structure more quickly.
  • Allow doctors to progress to the next pay point after a minimum of three years.
  • Introduce a closed gateway model of pay progression by incorporating a simple process between SAS doctors and their clinical manager and ensure that pay progression is achieved where clinical managers are satisfied that the doctor has met the required standards.

The 2021 SAS contract reform agreement introduced provisions to move to a new pay system. The new pay progression system will apply to both the 2021 specialty doctor and specialist grade contracts.

 

This guidance is produced in association with the British Medical Association (BMA).

Introduction

The new progression system is intended to enhance and strengthen existing processes, underlining the employer and doctors’ mutual obligations. There is an expectation that certain standards must be met, and the new system will help ensure that all SAS doctors have the appropriate knowledge and skills they need to carry out their roles.

Timetable for transition to the new pay progression arrangements

The pay structure of the specialty doctor grade is being reformed over a three-year transition period, which started on 1 April 2021. Due to the transitional nature of the three-year deal and the annual changes to the temporary transitional pay points, the new closed gateway pay progression process will not come into effect until 1 April 2023.

Refer to Schedule 13, paragraphs 18 to 21 in the 2021 specialty doctor contract and Schedule 13, paragraphs 12 to 15 in the secialist grade contract.

During the first two years of the agreement, it is still expected that all other aspects of the pay progression schedule, including the pay progression standards, are met.

Doctors will progress to the next pay point as per their pay progression date (previously known as incremental date) automatically through ESR. Employers should continue to manage progression as per their local processes during this time and progression can be withheld if the required standards set out in Schedule 13 of the terms and conditions of service (TCS) are not met.

On 1 April 2023, progression to pay points which result in a change of salary will be closed on the payroll system. Once the pay progression review meeting has been successfully completed and the doctor has met the criteria, it is the responsibility of the clinical manager to take the necessary action to open the pay point.

Process for pay progression (from 1 April 2023)

From 1 April 2023, where a doctor is due to progress to the next pay point, and this results in an increase in salary, the doctor’s clinical manager will need to confirm that the doctor has met the required standards before progression is granted in the pay roll system. This will happen at a minimum of every three years after 1 April 2023.

The clinical/medical director will have the overall responsibility of ensuring processes are in place to sign off pay progression. The pay progression process will be as follows:

  • Clinical managers will receive notification before a doctor’s next pay progression date and initiate a meeting to review whether the requirements for progression have been met. This meeting will draw on the most recent medical appraisal and job plan review and consider the progression standards which are highlighted in the table below. It is not necessary to schedule appraisals and job plan reviews to coincide with pay progression dates. 
  • A locally determined simple form, template or checklist should be used to support this process, which should be signed by the clinical manager and the doctor.
  • This will then be used as the basis for confirmation of movement to the next pay point.
  • Employers must ensure that the pay progression submission process is completed in a timely fashion to ensure that pay progression can be implemented in time for the doctors pay progression date.

Further details on progression can be found in Schedule 13 in the TCS and FAQs for SAS reform.

Pay progression standards

The expectation is that all SAS doctors will meet the required standards and will therefore be able to progress on their pay progression date. Employers and doctors will be expected to identify problems affecting the likelihood of pay progression as they emerge to allow time for possible solutions to be found. The medical appraisal process should ensure that the required standards are understood, and additional support identified in good time.

The specific pay progression requirements are highlighted below.

  • Standard pay progression criteria:
    • Participated satisfactorily in the job planning process on a yearly basis, including:
    1. Making every reasonable effort to meet the time and service commitments in their job plan and participated in the annual job plan review.
    2. Meeting the personal objectives in the job plan, or where this is not achieved for reasons beyond the doctor’s control, made every reasonable effort to do so.
    3. Working towards any changes identified in the last job plan review as being necessary to support achievement of joint objectives.
    • Participated satisfactorily in the medical appraisal process on a yearly basis.
    • Demonstrated yearly completion of the employing organisations mandatory training, or where this is not achieved for reasons beyond the doctors’ control, made every reasonable effort to do so
    • No disciplinary sanction live on the doctors’ record. 
    • No formal capability process in place.
    Progression through the higher threshold between pay point 3 and 4 (MC75-09 and MC75-10):

    The criteria for passing through the higher threshold recognises the higher level of skills, experience and responsibility of those doctors working at that level. Doctors will pass through the higher threshold if they have met the criteria at a, b and c, as set out below.

    a) Doctors have met the standard pay progression criteria.

    b) Doctors should be able to demonstrate an increasing ability to take decisions and carry responsibility without direct supervision.

    c) Doctors should also provide evidence to demonstrate their contributions to a wider role, for example, meaningful participation in, or contribution to any of the following relevant areas:

        Management or leadership, teaching and training of others, innovation, audit, committee work, for example.

  • Standard pay progression criteria:

    As for the specialty doctor, but in addition:

    • Undertaken anonymous colleague and patient multi-source feedback (MSF) exercises since appointment/ last progression and demonstrate learning from the results.
    • Performed a full audit cycle into a chosen aspect of their personal clinical practice and demonstrated any learning identified is being addressed. The audit will be chosen by the doctor and must be agreed with the clinical director as part of the job planning process. 
    • Demonstrated ability to deliver learning to others by completion of either clinical or educational supervisor training and/or delivery of a minimum of one educational lecture/workshop relevant to area of practice to clinicians.
    Progression through the higher threshold between pay point 3 and 4 (MC75-09 and MC75-10):

    Not applicable.

Electronic staff record (ESR)

For the first two years of the deal, ESR will continue to progress staff automatically on their pay progression date (previously referred to as incremental date) and the new changes will be brought in from 1 April 2023, for all doctors employed on the 2021 specialty doctor and specialist grade contract.

New ESR codes to reflect the new contracts will initially run MC75 – 01 to MC75 – 18 for the 2021 specialty doctor grade contract and MC70 – 01 to MC70 – 07 for the specialist grade contract, as shown below.

Specialty doctor (2021)

Pay Scale Code

21/22

22/23

23/24

MC75 – 01

£45,124

£50,373

£51,000

MC75 – 02

£45,124

£50,373

£51,000

MC75 – 03

£49,745

£50,373

£51,000

MC75 – 04

£55,790

£56,906

£58,756

MC75 – 05

£55,790

£56,906

£58,756

MC75 – 06

£58,756

£58,756

£58,756

MC75 – 07

£62,978

£64,237

£65,500

MC75 – 08

£62,978

£64,237

£65,500

MC75 – 09

£62,978

£64,237

£65,500

MC75 – 10

£66,614

£71,654

£72,500

MC75 – 11

£66,614

£71,654

£72,500

MC75 – 12

£70,249

£71,654

£72,500

MC75 – 13

£70,249

£75,361

£80,000

MC75 – 14

£70,249

£75,361

£80,000

MC75 – 15

£73,883

£75,361

£80,000

MC75 – 16

£73,883

£75,361

£80,000

MC75 – 17

£73,883

£75,361

£80,000

MC75 – 18

£77,519

£78,759

£80,000

Specialist (2021)

Pay scale code

21/22

22/23

23/24

MC70 – 01

£79,894

£80,693

£81,500

MC70 – 02

£79,894

£80,693

£81,500

MC70 – 03

£79,894

£80,693

£81,500

MC70 – 04

£85,286

£86,139

£87,000

MC70 – 05

£85,286

£86,139

£87,000

MC70 – 06

£85,286

£86,139

£87,000

MC70 – 07

£90,677

£91,584

£92,500

NHS Employers is working closely with the ESR programme team on the detailed policy requirements so that ESR can be updated to support the delivery of the new pay progression system. This work will include focus groups with employers to ensure that the functionality on ESR is simple and easy to use.

This guidance will be updated with further information on the system functionality once available.

Scenarios

Guidance on individual pay journeys for existing SAS doctors will also be a helpful tool when looking through the below scenarios, as well as the tables provided in the ESR section of this guidance.

The scenarios have been produced for illustrative purposes and do not account for every circumstance.

  • Scenario 1

     

    Dr Jones was employed as a specialty doctor. As of 31 March 2021, she was on the pay code MC46 – 02 (£44,677) with a pay progression date (formerly known as incremental date) of 1 January.

    Dr Jones transfers to the 2021 specialty doctor TCS onto MC75 – 02 with a rate of pay of £45,124 as of 1 April 2021. On 1 January 2022, Dr Jones will progress to MC75 – 03 (£49,745) as per her local trust processes and providing all the requirements of pay progression are met, and this will happen automatically in ESR (or other agreed systems). On 1 April 2022, her salary increases to £50,373 in line with the value MC75 – 03 agreed as part of three-year pay deal.

    As in January 2022, the same process of individual pay progression will happen on 1 January 2023 to move Dr Jones to MC75 – 04 (£56,906). Dr Jones pay increases to £58,756 on 1 April 2023 in line with the value MC75 – 04 agreed as part of three-year pay deal.

    The new pay progression process is introduced on 1 April 2023, however progression through to MC75 – 05 and MC75 – 06 does not result in an increase of pay. Dr Jones will therefore progress automatically through these pay points, and she will have her first pay progression review meeting ahead of 1 January 2026. If the requirements of pay progression have been met, the clinical manager will take the necessary action to open the pay point to progress to MC75 – 07.

    Specialty doctor (2008)

    Specialty doctor (2021)

     

    Pay Scale Code (20/21)

    20/21

    Pay Scale Code (21/22 on)

    01-Apr-21

    01-Jan-22

    01-Apr-22

    01-Jan-23

    01-Apr-23

    01-Jan-24

    MC46 – 02

    £44,677

    MC75 – 02

    £45,124

    £45,124

    £50,373

    £50,373

    £51,000

    £51,000

    MC46 – 03

    £49,252

    MC75 – 03

    £49,745

    £49,745

    £50,373

    £50,373

    £51,000

    £51,000

    MC46 – 04

    £51,704

    MC75 – 04

    £55,790

    £55,790

    £56,906

    £56,906

    £58,756

    £58,756

    MC46 – 05

    £55,237

    MC75 – 05

    £55,790

    £55,790

    £56,906

    £56,906

    £58,756

    £58,756

     

    Scenario 2

    Dr Patel was employed as a specialty doctor. As of 31 March 2021, he was on the pay code MC46 – 04 (£51,704) with a pay progression date (formerly known as incremental date) of 25 June.

    Dr Patel transfers to the 2021 specialty doctor TCS and onto MC75 – 04 with a rate of pay of £55,790 as of 1 April 2021. Dr Patel will progress to MC75 – 05 on 25 June 2021 (no increase in salary), as per his local trust processes and providing all the requirements of pay progression are met, and this will happen automatically in ESR (or other agreed systems). On 1 April 2022, his salary increases to £56,906 in line with the value of MC75 – 05 agreed as part of three-year pay deal.

    As in June 2021, the same process of individual pay progression will happen on 25 June 2022 to move Dr Patel to MC75 – 06 (£58,756). Dr Patel’s pay remains £58,756 from 1 April 2023 in line with the value MC75 – 06 agreed as part of three-year pay deal.

    The new pay progression process is also introduced on 1 April 2023, and the progression from MC75 – 06 to MC75 – 07 results in an increase of pay. Dr Patel will therefore have his first pay progression review ahead of 25 June 2023. If the requirements of pay progression have been met, the clinical manager will take the necessary action to open the pay point to progress to MC75 – 07 (£65,500). Dr Patel will have his next pay progression review meeting ahead of 25 June 2026 to progress to MC75 – 10.

    Specialty doctor (2008)

    Specialty doctor (2021)

     

    Pay Scale Code (20/21)

    20/21

    Pay Scale Code (21/22 on)

    01-Apr-21

    25-Jun-22

    01-Apr-22

    25-Jun-22

    01-Apr-23

    25-Jun-23

    MC46 – 04

    £51,704

    MC75 – 04

    £55,790

    £55,790

    £56,906

    £56,906

    £58,756

    £58,756

    MC46 – 05

    £55,237

    MC75 – 05

    £55,790

    £55,790

    £56,906

    £56,906

    £58,756

    £58,756

    MC46 – 06

    £58,756

    MC75 – 06

    £58,756

    £58,756

    £58,756

    £58,756

    £58,756

    £58,756

    MC46 – 07

    £58,756

    MC75 – 07

    £62,978

    £62,978

    £64,237

    £64,237

    £65,500

    *£65,500

    * Pay progression meeting required and to be completed before 25 June 2024.

  • Scenario 3 – part 1

    Dr Smith commenced employment as a specialty doctor on 15 November 2011 at the bottom of the pay scale (MC46 – 01) and was on the pay code MC46 – 10 (£65,954) as of 31 March 2021. Dr Smith transfers onto the 2021 specialty doctor terms and conditions and progresses as per these new terms.

    However, he receives a disciplinary sanction on 1 October 2023 for a period of six months.

    Dr Smith had been on pay code MC75 – 12 (£72,500) from 1 April 2023 and was due a pay progression review meeting ahead of his pay progression date on 15 November 2023. At his pay progression review meeting, his clinical manager confirms that he has not met the requirements for pay progression due to having a live disciplinary sanction on his record and he will therefore not progress to MC75 – 13.

    The pay progression will be delayed for a period of one year and Dr Smith will be due his next pay progression meeting ahead of 15 November 2024.

    Scenario 3 – part 2

    If Dr Smith’s sanction began on 1 October 2023 as described in Scenario 3 – part 1, and is the only factor preventing his successful progression on 15 November 2023, and his sanction is subsequently repealed, for example as a result of a successful appeal, Dr Smith should receive a remedy to the delay. Dr Smith is still due his next pay progression meeting ahead of 15 November 2024 and presuming all other requirements are met, his pay progression is backdated to 15 November 2023.

    Specialty doctor (2008)

    Specialty doctor (2021)

     

    Pay Scale Code (20/21)

    20/21

    Pay Scale Code (21/22 on)

    01-Apr-21

    15-Nov-22

    01-Apr-22

    15-Nov-22

    01-Apr-23

    15-Nov-23

    MC46 – 10

    £65,954

    MC75 – 10

    £66,614

    £66,614

    £71,654

    £71,654

    £72,500

    £72,500

    MC46 – 11

    £65,954

    MC75 – 11

    £66,614

    £66,614

    £71,654

    £71,654

    £72,500

    £72,500

    MC46 – 12

    £69,553

    MC75 – 12

    £70,249

    £70,249

    £71,654

    £71,654

    £72,500

    *£72,500

    MC46 – 13

    £69,553

    MC75 – 13

    £70,249

    £70,249

    £75,361

    £75,361

    £80,000

    **£80,000

     *Pay progression meeting required before 15 Nov 24. Disciplinary sanction in place so no pay progression to MC75-13

    ** Part 2 of scenario where the sanction is repealed.

  • Scenario 4 – part 1

    Dr Allum commenced employment as a specialist on 1 June 2021 on MC70 – 01 on £79,894.  On 1 April 2022, Dr Allums pay increases to £80,693 in line with the value of MC70 – 01 agreed as part of three-year pay deal. Dr Allum progressed through to MC70 – 02 (still £80,693) on 1 June 2022 as she met all the requirements of pay progression and this happened automatically in ESR (or other agreed systems).

    On 1 April 2023, Dr Allum’s pay increases to £81,500 in line with the value of MC70 – 02 agreed as part of the three-year pay deal. The new pay progression process is introduced on 1 April 2023, however progression to MC75 – 03 does not result in an increase in pay (still £81,500) and therefore progression will happen automatically on ESR (or other agreed systems) on 1 June 2023.

    Dr Allum is due to commence maternity leave on 1 September 2023 and is not due to return from maternity leave until 1 September 2024. Dr Allum would have been due her first pay progression review meeting on 1 June 2024 to move to MC70 – 04; however due to her maternity leave, her clinical manager arranges the pay progression review meeting early in August 2023 and the pay progression form is signed off.

    The three-year pay deal ends on 31 March 2024 and Dr Allum will receive any annual pay award to MC70 – 03 from April 2024. On 1 June 2024, Dr Allum would progress to MC70 – 04 to a rate of pay of £87,000 (plus any additional annual pay award). Dr Allum would return to work on 1 September 2024.

    Scenario 4 - part 2

    If Dr Allum was unable to have a pay progression meeting before her planned maternity leave, to ensure the principle of equal and fair treatment and no detriment is suffered as a result, her clinical manager arranges for her pay progression to MC70 – 04 to be paid effective from 1 June 2024 in her absence.

    Specialist (2021)

    Pay scale code (21/22 on)

    01-Jun-22

    01-Apr-22

    01-Jun-22

    01-Apr-23

    01-Jun-23

    01-Apr-24

    01-Jun-24

    MC70 – 01

    £79,894

    £80,693

    £80,693

    £81,500

    £81,500

    *£81,500

    *£81,500

    MC70 – 02

    £79,894

    £80,693

    £80,693

    £81,500

    £81,500

    *£81,500

    *£81,500

    MC70 – 03

    £79,894

    £80,693

    £80,693

    £81,500

    £81,500

    *£81,500

    *£81,500

    MC70 – 04

    £85,286

    £86,139

    £86,139

    £87,000

    £87,000

    *£87,000

    *£87,000

    MC70 – 05

    £85,286

    £86,139

    £86,139

    £87,000

    £87,000

    *£87,000

    *£87,000

    MC70 – 06

    £85,286

    £86,139

    £86,139

    £87,000

    £87,000

    *£87,000

    *£87,000

    MC70 – 07

    £90,677

    £91,584

    £91,584

    £92,500

    £92,500

    *£92,500

    *£92,500

     *Figures are outside of the three-year deal and therefore subject to change as per annual government pay round.

  • Scenario 5

    Dr Brown has a pay progression review meeting in March 2026 ahead of his pay progression date of 12 April 2026. Dr Brown is also due to have his appraisal in March 2026, but it is cancelled due to organisational issues which are beyond his control.

    He had met all the other standards required.

    His clinical manager takes full account of these factors and agrees that he should not be disadvantaged by organisational issues and authorises the pay progression, so he progresses to the next pay point from 12 April 2026. His manager also ensures that the appraisal as rescheduled as soon as possible.

Pay progression review template

Use our pay progression review template to document the meetings.

Download the pay progression review template (Word).