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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

You can use the RCN guide Fair Pay in the Independent sector to review your pay, terms and conditions and prepare your request clearly and concisely. The publication includes a draft letter and pro-forma to help you make your claim.  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.  Additional information about rates of inflation and other pay comparisons can be accessed in the latest RCN table of Inflation and Earnings Figures

Further reading

RCN Evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body 2017-18


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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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