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Nursing staff

Pay, terms and conditions in the independent sector

All nursing staff deserve fair pay, good terms and conditions, career development and a safe working environment no matter where they work.

This page can be used for advice on starting a conversation between nursing staff and employers about fair pay, terms and conditions.

The RCN believes all health and social care employers need to have a pay system that is competitive with the NHS. While some are based on NHS structures, many are set independently and in some instances pay rates are dictated by commissioners’ budgets. Pay rates are often lower and for health care assistants are usually set at the national minimum wage or a few pence above it. 

A pay claim can be used as a mechanism to facilitate discussions with an employer on the wider aspects of pay, and increased benefits in employment terms and conditions. If the matter is shared by a group of nursing staff then a claim can be taken forward collectively. The RCN can help in making a pay claim. Contact RCN Direct for more information.

Preparing for discussions with your employer

Read our 'Eight simple tips' to help you prepare and work with colleagues to approach your employer about improving your pay, terms and conditions.  These tips include downloading and using our editable RCN Request a Pay Rise Template Letter and a simple one page RCN Short Pay Survey, as preparation, before contacting your employer.  You can also find additional information in the RCN guide Fair Pay in the Independent sector to help you review your pay, terms and conditions and prepare your request clearly and concisely.  As the guide explains, it is useful to be able to compare your current pay and terms and conditions with others.  The guide contains some comparisons to Agenda for Change terms and conditions.  You may also find the RCN prepared Comparison of the Minimum Wage, Living Wage and minimum Agenda for Change pay rates useful, as well as the inflation information in the table below.

Inflation and earnings figures

These facts and figures about rates of inflation and other pay comparisons provide information that will be useful in preparing to submit a pay claim to your employer. 

Inflation and earnings information
RPI – Retail Prices Index
(includes mortgage related inflation)
year to Nov 2018
Domestic fuel price increases:
Overall  Nov  9.0%
Gas Nov  7.6%
Electric Nov  9.1%
CPI & CPIH – Consumer Prices Index & CPI Housing
(preferred by Gov – used for most pension adjustments)
Nov 2.3% & 2.2%
year to Nov 2018
Median predictions of inflation for 2018 and 2019
(Based on a range of predictions in 3 months to December 2018 for Oct – Dec 2018 and for Oct – Dec 2019)
 RPI predictions – Retail Prices Index





 CPI predictions – Consumer Prices Index





 Average earnings – growth predictions





This information was gathered on 19 December 2018 from Labour Research Department, Workplace Report and Fact Service; Office for National Statistics (ONS), Inflation and price indices; HM Treasury, Forecasts for the UK Economy and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Domestic energy price indices.

To assist with your discussions with your employer you may find it useful to download a single page version of the above RCN table of Inflation and Earnings Figures

Further reading

The 2017 Budget still didn't  deliver on pay for the independent care sector

RCN Evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body 2017-18

CPI2 & CPIH2 – Consumer Prices Index & CPI Housin


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If you're an RCN member and need help with any aspect of your employment, you can access advice online or contact us direct. We're here to help - wherever you work.

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