Section 1: Pay structure (England)

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Pay spines
1.1 The NHS pay system as a whole will have two pay spines or series of pay bands: pay spine one for staff within the remit of the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body and pay spine two for staff within the extended remit of the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB).
1.2 This handbook sets out pay and conditions for staff within the remit of the NHSPRB. Section 40 explains the role of the NHS Staff Council, its Executive and the NHS pay review bodies. Annex 16 sets out the extended coverage of the NHSPRB. Pay and conditions for the most senior managers are outside the scope of this Handbook (see paragraph 1.7 in this Section).
1.3 The pay spine for staff covered by the NHSPRB will be divided into nine pay bands. All staff covered by this pay system will be assigned to one of these pay bands on the basis of job weight, as measured by the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme. From the 1 December 2018 band 1 will be closed to new starters. Where staff who have chosen to stay in a legacy band 1 role after 31 March 2021, employers should periodically discuss the option of moving to a band 2 role with them and support them to do so should they wish to. 
1.4 To assist this process, a set of NHS jobs have been evaluated and national job profiles drawn up where the job evaluation score is agreed. Staff whose jobs match these profiles will be assigned on the basis of the profile score. Other jobs will be evaluated locally on a partnership basis. When new posts are created or existing posts re-designed the principles set out in the current version of the Job Evaluation Handbook will apply.
1.5 The NHS Job Evaluation Handbook1 sets out the basis of job evaluation, which underpins the pay system and includes the factor plan, the weighting and scoring document and a guide for matching posts locally.
1.6 The nine pay bands and their corresponding job evaluation scores are set out in table 1(a)2. Within this structure, pay band 8 is sub-divided into four ranges.

Table 1 (a) - Pay bands and job weight

NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) spine

 Pay band Job weight
 1  0 - 160
 2  161 - 215
 3  216 - 270
 4  271 - 325
 5  326 - 395
 6  396 - 465
 7  466 - 539
 8a  540 - 584
 8b  585 - 629
 8c  630 - 674
 8d  675 - 720
 9  721 - 765

1.7 There are separate arrangements for Chief Executives and directors at board level whose posts are not subject to the pay system in this Handbook3. These alternative arrangements may also apply to other senior posts which, in this pay structure, have been assessed as having a job weight over 630 points4.

Pay progression

1.8 Pay progression for all pay points, within each pay band, will be conditional upon individuals demonstrating that they have the requisite knowledge and skills/competencies for their role and that they have demonstrated the required level of performance and delivery during the review period, as determined locally in line with Annex 23 (England).

1.9 Provided the appropriate level of performance and delivery has been achieved during the review period, individuals will progress to their next pay point on their pay step date. This is dependent on individuals meeting all the required standards for progression as detailed in Annex 23 (England).

1.10 Ordinarily, pay progression should not be deferred on performance grounds unless there has been a prior documented discussion between the individual and the person undertaking their review, regarding failure to meet the required level of performance, and the employee has been given a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate the required improvement before the decision on pay progression is taken. This prior discussion would need to identify areas for improvement and any reasonable developmental support the individual may require to operate at the required local level of performance. 

Annually earned pay points

1.11 Twelve months after an employee reaches the top of bands 8c, 8d and 9, 5 per cent or 10 per cent of basic salary will become re-earnable. Where the standards in Annex 23, paragraph 19 are met, salary is retained at the top of the band. If standards are not met, salary may be reduced by 5 per cent or 10 per cent from the pay step date, subject to the provisions in Annex 23, paragraph 23. The employee will be able to restore their salary to the top of the band at the end of the following year by meeting the required standards. The employee has the right to contest a decision to reduce their pay using the locally agreed procedure.

1.12 Staff on the top incremental pay points as at 31 March 2013 have reserved rights, please see Annex 23, paragraph 43.

1.13 Annex 23 (England) sets out the principles which will underpin these systems and provides guidance on their operation.

1.14 Annex 3 sets out the values of the pay points in the pay bands and the pay spine in England, in full, effective from 1 October 2004. The latest values of the pay points are in Annex 2.

Pay step dates

1.15 For newly appointed or promoted staff their pay step date will be the date they take up their post.

1.16 Advancement to the next pay step point will be dependent on the length of stay at each pay step point within each band.

Pay on promotion

1.17 Basic pay on promotion will be set at the minimum pay-step point of the new pay band (see Annex 23, paragraph 11). The pay step date will reset to the date the employee starts in the new pay band (see Section 1 paragraph 1.15).

Pay on promotion - Unsocial hours and recruitment and retention premia payments

1.18 On promotion the new starting salary (made up of basic pay and any unsocial hours payment and/or any long-term recruitment and retention premium (RRP)) should produce an increase in earnings. If it does not, the previous salary (basic pay plus any applicable unsocial hours payment and/or long-term RRP) will be maintained until the combination of basic pay, any unsocial hours payment and/or RRP in the new band does produce a higher salary.

1.19 In the case of unsocial hours payments the provisions in 1.18 will only apply if the unsocial hours working pattern in the new role remains substantially the same as in the previous role. Where this is not the case, the previous unsocial hours payment will not be taken into consideration when determining the new starting salary.  

1.20 The earnings calculations in 1.18 will be based on normal contractual hours excluding additional hours and will use unsocial hours payments averaged over the previous three months at work, or any other reference period agreed in partnership locally.

Temporary movement into a higher pay band

1.21 Individuals may be moved into a higher pay band where it is necessary to fill a post on a temporary basis when:

  • a vacancy is unfilled, but being advertised; or
  • the post is being held open for someone who is due to return, for example, from long-term sickness absence, maternity leave, or from extended training.

1.22 Pay will be set at the minimum pay step point of the temporary higher band. If this would result in no pay increase (by reference to their substantive post earnings) then pay will be as per pay on promotion (1.17 – 1.20).

1.23 Temporary movement into a new pay band should not normally last more than six months or less than one month, except in instances of maternity leave or long-term sickness absence, where a longer period may be known at the outset. In circumstances where the individual is not required to carry out the full responsibilities of the post, pay will be determined by job evaluation.

1.24 On temporary movement into a higher pay band the pay step date will reset to the date the employee starts in the new pay band (see Section 1, paragraph 1.17). Any time spent in the higher pay band will be credited towards the employee’s substantive post’s pay step date, for the purpose of progression, upon their return to their substantive post at the lower band.

1 Available, together with the nationally evaluated job profiles, on the Agenda for Change website at:
2 See the question and answer guidance in Annex 28 (England and Wales).
3 See the question and answer guidance in Annex 28 (England and Wales).
4 See the question and answer guidance in Annex 28 (England and Wales).

Amendment number 43: NHS TCS Advisory Notice 01/2021

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