I was new to job evaluation when I first took on the case, but I was determined to help these nurses get the pay and recognition they deserved.

They’d been working beyond their job description as a whole team of district nurses in Belfast, and I had been among them as nurse lead before I was seconded to a full-time rep role.

I made them a promise that I’d get their band 6 job description looked at.

Thankfully I had a brilliant mentor to guide me and together we set about getting these nurses what they deserved.

Getting started

I met with three members from my former team and explained they needed to get evidence that the job had changed.

But their team was just one of six, so to do this properly we had to spread the word. I sent an email to RCN members explaining what we were trying to do and asking for a point of contact in each team.

To ensure all district nursing sisters and charge nurses could be included, I reached out to other trade unions and we worked in partnership for the good of all our members.

Nationally, employers and unions have agreed a large number of job “profiles” for commonly occurring jobs. The profiles have been scored and bands determined.

Nearly all NHS jobs match a profile. This is called “job matching” and is the process for deciding the banding of most jobs. So members started by looking at their job description and job match report and began to document evidence of the significant changes.

We wanted everyone included so focused on what everyone had

We looked at all the factors (see below for more information), to ensure the breadth of their training, experience, skill and responsibility was covered. In effect, they wrote an updated job description.

All the post holders were qualified to degree level or equivalent. They had a specialist practice qualification that was recordable with the NMC and were non-medical prescribers.

Some had even more qualifications, but we wanted everyone included so focused on what everyone had, which was at least two-years post registration experience with one year in the specialty.

As we were collating the evidence, we could see there’d been a significant change to their job description, so we took the next step with members emailing their managers to request a job re-evaluation. 

We used the RCN resource on job evaluation to guide our work, and it was so helpful. It contains a clear explanation of the process and includes a form to complete to show the factors you believe need to be changed.

It provided a way to clearly share our evidence with the co-director of the service and ultimately the Agenda for Change team.  

Senior support

Thankfully, we were pushing at an open door.

The service manager not only agreed with what we were doing, she wanted to take it further. She asked to work with us and contacted our HR department about the nurse prescribing budget the team was working with. 

Members, supported by their unions, submitted their evidence to the co-director and it was signed off as an accurate reflection of the work they were required to do in their roles. The paperwork was then sent for re-evaluation by a panel.

In December 2020, three years after our submission, members were told their job evaluation request had been successful, and they had been uplifted to band 7.

This is about valuing staff for the work they do

With so many meetings to organise and people involved it was never going to be quick project, but this was great news and members got in contact to thank the RCN for all the support.

The original 54 staff in post at the time of submission were all upgraded and any new staff that had taken up post since were also uplifted through a non-panel arrangement.   

I’m especially delighted that those on the original submission will receive three years of backpay. For those who had retired in that time, this will have a positive impact on their pensions too.

Every trust has a different attitude to job evaluation so not everyone has the same experience, but this is about valuing staff for the work they do. By doing this the employer has retained  staff, who haven’t become frustrated and gone searching for work elsewhere.

Going forward

The RCN in Northern Ireland is concerned that for many years there has been a disproportionate number of band 5 nurses in the workforce.

These post holders may not necessarily want to move into a management role; however, they should be recognised for the knowledge, training and experience they have developed, and rewarded for this.

This is the very essence of the job evaluation scheme – fair pay for work of equal value.

Job evaluation is being discussed more and more by members and can sometimes mean more to them than a pay uplift.

As such, the RCN needs to be well-equipped to support and guide members through this process.

The RCN in Northern Ireland is in the process of recruiting a job evaluation officer to support and empower groups of staff through the changing job process or job evaluation.

Bernie McGurnaghan was previously an RCN steward and is now an RCN Senior Officer in Northern Ireland

Further information

The NHS Job Evaluation Scheme was introduced in 2004 and is an integral part of Agenda for Change.

The RCN has an area on the reps learning portal where you can find information and new resources that will support you with job evaluations in your workplace. Log in using your MyRCN details. The resource is on the main dashboard. 

You can also read more on our NHS job evaluation pages.

What are factors?

The NHS job evaluation scheme is comprised of 16 factors, which are grouped into three sets:

  1. Knowledge and skill factors – what skills, training and experience does the job require?
  2. Responsibilities factors – how you employ those skills.
  3. Effort and environment factors – what effort is needed to carry out the responsibilities?

The demands of every job covered by the scheme are considered against each of the 16 factors. Each factor comprises between 4 and 8 factor levels, which are defined. Every post scores at least level 1 for every factor. The definitions and levels of each factor can be found in the NHS Job Evaluation Handbook. Read more about NHS job evaluation.

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