Agenda for Change
Questions and Answers
Who is covered by AfC?
All staff employed by the NHS except Senior Managers and Doctors and Dentists. The staff side have not agreed this with the DoH, they believed that all should be included, however the Doctors and Dentists refused to participate and the Senior Managers were excluded by the DoH as being too individual to accurately evaluate. The staff side still believe that the Doctors and Dentists will have to be brought into the system at some stage if Equal Value is to apply.
Approximately 82% of the staff covered are women
Who negotiated AfC?
The staff side of the Whitley Council, representatives of Trusts and the DoH. A number of joint sub groups were set up to look at separate issues in more detail.
How big a pay rise will I get?
Pay details will be dealt with later when we have all the job profiles. It is important to remember, however that the whole process is about making all payments, terms and conditions proof against Equal Value claims. It does not in itself produce pay increases. Those who have been "underpaid" in the past will receive improvements but some will not and a few will be seen as having been relatively "overpaid"
What is Equal Value?
The legal principle of equal value is now well established and says that workers for the same employer should broadly be paid the same for each hour of work if their work is of similar value. This principle applies to all terms and conditions of employment not just pay. It was this principle which Amicus exploited to achieve massive improvements in pay for the majority of Speech and Language Therapists (SALTs) and is one reason for the Agenda for Change process being implemented. Certain Recruitment and Retention payments may be excluded from this process.
How do you demonstrate equal value applies?
The only way which can readily demonstrate both security of implementation and maintenance of equality, is a system of Job Evaluation called Points Factored Weighting. This was used in the successful case of the SALTs and a more comprehensive system has been used for Agenda for Change. Both used the same consultant, Sue Hastings. The AfC system has the approval of both the Race Relations Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission for being as objective as possible and avoiding any discriminatory features. Job Evaluation (JE) is not a science but it is as objective a way as possible of comparing different jobs and scoring them to establish a rank order of relative value. This order and the points scored then enables a graded structure to be put in place.
Details on the Factor plan are available on Amicus Reps Direct 135
Who designed and implemented the JE scheme?
This was done by the Job Evaluation Working Party drawn from both staff and management sides. Amicus representatives were Bruce Sanderson, Tina Mackay and latterly Colin Adkins. They were helped by many staff, including Amicus members, and managers who were trained as analysts to look at "benchmark" jobs which were used to test the system worked and then to design the grading structure around them. Afterwards it is necessary to draw up typical "Job Profiles" which reflect the wide range of professions and levels within the NHS staff. Some of the numbers in the separate professions (cohorts) at a national level can be quite small and have generally been left to the end of the process. It is important to get the bulk of staff covered as soon as possible.
Is Job Evaluation completed?
No there are still many jobs requiring profiles and others need to be reviewed. Amicus is organising a series of special sessions bringing together profilers and evaluators with Amicus members for each significant profession who can ensure that significant differences in work quality are reflected In the profiles and thus grading. Many of these should be completed by mid January when the bulk of the Agenda for Change programme will be published. We could well be refining and completing Profiles up to April to make sure they are right. During and after early implementation, as we see the practical problems, there are likely to be further amendments.
Where is Job Evaluation used?
In every sector of industry and commerce, public and private. A new scheme is being implemented in Local Government for example. The difference is that the NHS scheme covers more staff than anywhere else. After all it is the third biggest employer in the world after the Indian Railways and the Chinese Red Army.
How do you create a grading system from the results of JE?
A number of grades, in this case 8 were created with roughly similar numbers of points range for each. The last grade (8) is also split into 4 mini grades but with no automatic progression between them. The jobs were then allocated to the grades on the basis of their individual score. In cases where a number of similar jobs had been evaluated and they scored differently especially where this caused the jobs to be in different grades, the points were reviewed to identify the cause and, where necessary, adjustments made.
How are salaries determined?
The salary arrangements have been the subject of much negotiation. Minimum and Maximum salaries are agreed for each grade and mini grade. There is automatic progression, subject to gateways, through the grade from minimum to maximum, the number of steps vary in each grade. In a few cases job holders would normally expect to move from one grade to a higher within certain time limits. Otherwise, as now, reaching the top of the grade is the end of the process unless the job expands sufficiently to warrant a new job description, which scores sufficiently to move up a grade.
How many points do I need to go up a grade?
That depends on what the original score is. If a job scores toward the bottom of a grade, a big change would be needed to generate the points needed. If at the top of a grade, in points score, then a relatively small growth in the job could do so. There will be a mechanism to review jobs for this purpose.
Gateways, what are they?
Each grade will have two Gateways, achievement of which will permit automatic movement up the grade. The first will be after one year in the job and will be equivalent to the completion of a probationary period as now. The second will be between the fourth and third point from the end, or third and second or at the penultimate point of the scale depending on the grade. The second gateway will be assumed to be open. It would be for management to demonstrate a problem with the workers competence. A combination of CPD and the Knowledge and Skills framework will establish the level of achievement to move through the Gateway. The precise detail would be agreed through the CPD process.
CPD doesn’t work now why should it in future?
CPD is an integral part of Agenda for Change and will be part of your contractual rights to training paid for by the employer. Time off with pay will also be a contractual requirement thus preventing "budget" considerations from stopping your attendance as often happens now. If you are approaching a gateway, relevant training or experience to do so will have to be provided by the employer in time for you to achieve the gateway.
What is the Knowledge and Skills Framework?
A "Knowledge and Skills Framework" or KSF is being developed to support the consistent application of standards for all jobs in the NHS. It has strong links with a number of other skills based initiatives such as the lifelong learning framework in England and it will be important in developing a workforce focused on delivering patient centred care and service improvements. The KSF does not seek to replicate existing work, for example on National Occupational Standards – but rather to provide a common framework which unites existing initiatives with local standards in a way which supports consistent development and appraisal of staff, as they move around the service.
Full details are available in Amicus Reps Direct 131
Is my performance going to affect my salary?
No more than it would today. Progression through the grade and Gateways is about your
What will happen to my present allowances?
Not a simple answer. Most are for features of your work, which will already have been measured in the JE process so will disappear. This will also mean that existing COLS will cease. Those that remain will include:
High Cost of living
All staff in outer London will receive a payment on top of salary of 15%. It will be not less than £2,500 and not more than £3,500
All staff in the fringe areas will receive a payment on top of salary of 5%. It will be not less than £750 and not more than £1,300
Salary to be taken into account for calculating the percentage, includes all retention and recruitment premia.
These payments will be pensionable.
Outside London and fringe areas, Retention and recruitment payments will be used – to replace the current COLS
The additional annual cost to the DoH for this is £167 million.
Short term Recruitment and Retention
This will be a payment made where there are problems recruiting or retaining staff either in a particular professional area or more widely eg Geographically. This will be time limited and not pensionable. It is not yet clear how this will be determined or whether such payments should be agreed at a level higher than the trust.
Long term Recruitment and Retention
This will be a payment made for an indefinite period but subject to review to reflect long term Recruitment and Retention problems. It can be by profession or geographical reasons. A number of jobs/Professions already receive supplements beyond what Whitley provides, in other cases Whitley has recognised the R&R problems by awarding significantly higher payments in the past. These will be covered by the long term RRP as will any new areas identified where salaries are insufficient to attract and keep staff. RRP will apply to a number of professions who otherwise could potentially lose salary under new grading criteria. More details will be published in January.
These payments will be part of base salary for calculating pensions, on call, overtime, etc.
Out of Normal Hours/On call
The payments to be made under the agreement, will benefit many staff but not most covered by Amicus. We have therefore reached an agreement that existing on call and shift payments will continue to be paid. This would apply to departments so all staff would be covered not just existing staff. Further, if the employer wishes to change the arrangements, by agreement, eg to move onto shift, the existing pool of money will be used to calculate the new arrangements. There is no time limit on this.
However the "formal" AfC arrangements pay all staff, in future, bands 1-7 after 7.00pm and before 7.00 am, Monday to Friday and all hours on Saturday, Sunday and Bank holidays. and for staff in band 8 after 10.pm and before 7.00pm on Monday to Friday, or after 1.00pm or before 9.00am on Saturday, Sunday and Bank holidays.
Additional Details Reps Direct 157
For the first time many Amicus members will be paid for overtime. All grades up to and including 7 will be covered. O/T will be paid at 1.5 times normal salary for all hours in excess of 37.5. Bank holidays will be paid at double time. More details in January.
Why do we need to harmonise hours?
Equal Value demands that pay per hour is considered and if pay has been equalised then so have to be hours. This was not unexpected but we had hoped to arrange protection for an indefinite period, indeed until standard hours were reduced further. The DoH argued that for equal value to apply there had to be a finite end to the protection within a reasonable time scale. In the event everyone else on both sides felt that the harmonisation proposal was acceptable. However we were able to secure up to 7 years protection in all with the 33/35 hours secured for a full 4 years and 36 hours protected for 3 years.
Why couldn’t we have harmonised at 35 hours?
Amicus policy is for reduction of the working week to 35 hours in all sectors of employment. However we also want that to be real reduction in working time, not just an opportunity for increasing overtime. The staffing crisis in the NHS means that any reduction below 37.5 would have to be met by overtime or recruitment. To reduce to 35 would require a further 50,000 nurse in the NHS, we have yet to achieve the targets for satisfactory levels now let alone the extra demands being placed on Nurses and others by the implementation of the Working time Regulations on Doctors.
Isn’t that a management problem to sort out?
There are those who say that it is not our problem but if we are anxious to uphold our principle of not just creating more overtime and trying to work in partnership with the DoH, which has been a major feature of AfC, then it is a problem we all have to address. It is the intention of Amicus, with the other unions, to press for a recruitment policy which will enable reductions in hours to take place in the future. Among Amicus members there are many who stay still or have a marginal decrease of .5 hour per week, 6 minutes a day. Some, notably Pharmacists, will reduce their hours by 1.5 per week and others fortunately small in total numbers could suffer a further increase.
So those of us on 35 hour week will have to work longer?
In theory yes but we do need to build in all the features of the new arrangements to get a clear picture. Firstly CPD will provide additional time off, often not currently available for training. From surveys conducted of Speech and Language Therapists it is clear their actual average working hours were in excess of 39.5. Overtime pay will at least reduce the burden but cannot remove the extra time. The protection of up to 7 years in all applies and finally the opportunities for flexible working/IWL, now available, will not reduce hours but can at least provide some help in making arrangements for those who are carers. None of these are answers in themselves but together broadly retain the status quo for most. It is for Amicus, the SALTS who may lose a little in the long run. The negotiators had them and other members on 35 and 36 hrs in mind throughout the negotiations.
Details of full protection arrangements are in Reps Direct 137.
Do some staff grades still get better holidays than others?
No, all staff are treated the same. There are in addition, 8 public holidays.
What protection do I get if the new terms are worse than the old?
On call and standby
If my hours are reduced when does that happen?
How will future negotiations be conducted?
There will be three pay spines: I for Doctors and Dentists, II for NHS professional staff and III for other staff who may be professional but not in Health skills. I and II will have a Pay Review Board and III a joint staff Negotiating Committee. In addition there will be National Joint Staff negotiating Committee for terms and conditions not covered by PRB. What will prove of interest is what the role of the three bodies will be. Because of the principles of equal value, the pay arrangements should remain equitable, so no pay spine should receive more than any other. The only exception would be where Recruitment and Retention Premia were newly applied or increased. We do not believe that the DoH fully understand this principle yet so Amicus will be observing the whole process most carefully.
Amicus have argued for many years that all our NHS staff members should be covered by the Pay Review Body. This already happens to our Nurse and AHP members. The new arrangements include all our members who are registerable plus their support staff. Boundaries of these definitions are still being discussed but we are hopeful that all our members bar a small proportion in Clerical and Admin, management, IT and estates/maintenance should be included.
Are the negotiations now completed?
Most of this should be essentially completed before the end of January for consultation with staff.
How is Amicus going to consult?
We intend to keep you informed of what is happening and what has been "agreed".
We have arranged a meeting of the Health National Advisory Committee for 26th of February to look at the complete package. That is the body representing all occupational Advisory and Regional advisory committees they will decide what is recommended to the NHS membership.
We shall then hold conferences in each region during March to inform reps of the situation.
Regional Officers will then hold Trust based meetings immediately prior to a workplace ballot of all Amicus members for your views. The ballot at the end of March will determine the Amicus vote on the Whitley Council.
If it is accepted by Whitley, then what happens?
If the Whitley Council accepts AfC then it will be trialed at the 12 Early Implementers named in Reps Direct 157.
What happens if the Whitley council rejects AfC?
The view of the DoH is adamant, as it was with doctors, there would be no further negotiation. It has to be accepted as a package. We should therefore not be able to include our members in the existing PRBs. I have no doubt that over time new arrangements could be reached and in the meantime some equal value cases launched but of course this could take many years.
If Amicus votes against but Whitley Council accepts AfC what then?
The Whitley council has the ability to agree changes to all terms and conditions of employment. If it accepts by a majority, that AfC should be accepted, there is nothing more we can do. What we will have to do in any event, if AfC is accepted, is ensure that all officials and lay members are working together to produce the greatest benefit for Amicus members and protecting those who might otherwise falter.
Can any sectors or Amicus refuse to accept Whitley Agreement?
No. We are bound by the same Recognition rights as everyone else.
How will Amicus be involved?
We shall arrange training for all reps involved by trust. We shall also establish networks through the Secretaries to the Occupational Advisory Committees to ensure a common approach where possible for each professional grouping. We are anxious that this process is driven forward at Trust level, which will require a trust based, rather than profession based, approach. In this way we establish common attitudes and procedures. We also ensure that we maximise benefits for all members and not just for those who may be more vocal or in a stronger position.
At the Centre we shall be monitoring what is developing and addressing the issues as they arise.
Who will decide where I go on the scales?
This will be done by a joint management/staff team which will necessarily reflect knowledge of the departments being processed. It will be important for members, even if only two or three, to have a spokesperson whom we can train to maximise the position of any individual job. Now is the time to make sure you have such a person. They will look at each job and compare it with an agreed national profile; if it matches there will already be an agreed appropriate grade for it to slot into.
What happens if none of the job profiles matches my job?
Providing the match is significantly different, your job would have to be separately evaluated. This also applies if you disagree with the match. However do be aware that if the difference in your job and the profile is small there is little point in taking it through the system unless the profile score is at the top of the points range for the grade.
How will my job be evaluated?
Staff/management analysts at local level will feed your details into standard nationally produced software which will then produce a score giving the appropriate grade. Any appeal against this can only usually be for the reason that the job is not properly described. So that first step needs to be taken with care.
Who will be able to help me?
Your Amicus trust and departmental reps should be trained to help and will be building up expertise They in turn will be backed up by Research and Policy staff and officers at Head office and your local Regional Officers.
In the past my employer has never been fair over grading, what will make them change?
It is all too true that many trusts have sought to minimise grades in the past and delayed implementation e.g. Clinical grading for Nurses. Some may still try to be difficult. There are however a number of factors which should help prevent this.
The Early Implementers have been chosen on the grounds they are prepared to work in Partnership
All trusts know they need to properly reward staff to solve their R&R problems
The process will be monitored by the national joint JE team
Amicus will additionally be monitoring at trust and profession level.
Amicus reps and officers will be at hand to work with management to properly and quickly implement Agenda for Change.
If you are not already a member of Amicus why not join us now?