Publication - Impact assessment

NHS Scotland Agenda for Change (AFC) Pay Deal for 2018-21: EQIA

Equality impact assessment (EQIA) for the NHS Scotland Agenda for Change (AFC) Pay Deal for 2018-21.

19 page PDF

290.6 kB

19 page PDF

290.6 kB

NHS Scotland Agenda for Change (AFC) Pay Deal for 2018-21: EQIA

19 page PDF

290.6 kB


Policy Aim

This policy aims to deliver pay uplifts and restructuring of pay bands in return for a discussion on reform to four agreed key areas of terms and conditions from 2018-21 for Agenda for Change (AfC) staff in NHS Scotland.

The agreed four areas of reform are:

  • Policy on the management of sickness absence
  • Organisational change and protection of earnings
  • Utilisation and application of Time Off in Lieu (TOIL)
  • Appraisal and incremental progression.

A consultative ballot with union members took place between 2 July and 15 August 2018 following agreement to accept the deal by all parties at the Scottish Terms and Conditions (STAC) meeting on 22 June 2018. The pay deal was formally accepted at a further STAC meeting on 17 August 2018 and pay uplifts have been backdated to 1 April 2018.

Four sub-groups were established to discuss the areas of reform and delivered agreed outcomes for consideration at the STAC meeting on 3 December 2018. Agreed revised guidance impacting on sickness absence, organisational change and protection of earnings and utilisation and application of TOIL has been in place from 1 April 2019. The last area of reform, appraisal and incremental progression requires changes to be made to the Turas platform operated by NES, and revised guidance is anticipated to be in place from 1 April 2020. This means that the introduction of a robust appraisal system will not be realised until the last year of the Pay Deal, at the very earliest.

For staff at top of their pay scale earning up to £80,000, the deal means a 9% pay rise over 3 years. Staff not yet at the top of their band could receive considerably more – up to 27.7% over the 3 years. For those earning over £80,000 it means a £1,600 uplift per year. The deal also means no NHS Scotland AfC staff member will be making less than their NHS England equivalent and most will be making more.

Contributions to National Outcomes

  • We live longer, healthier lives: AfC staff play vital roles in delivering the high quality healthcare that the Scottish population needs and deserves. The agreed 3 year pay deal will contribute to the recruitment and retention of this workforce and the productivity and efficiency of our health service.
  • Our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs: reformed pay, terms and conditions contributes to the improvement and development of NHS Scotland as a crucial public service.
  • We realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people: the AfC 3 year pay deal improves pay, terms and conditions, offering better employment opportunities within NHS Scotland.

Who will it affect?

Agenda for Change (AfC) is the current grading and pay system for NHS staff, with the exception of doctors, dentists, executives and senior managers. In Scotland, it covers 150,000 staff and harmonises pay scales and career progression arrangements across traditionally separate pay groups. AfC came into operation on 1 December 2004, following agreement between NHS Staff Side, NHS Employers and the Scottish Government.

The AfC system allocates posts to set pay bands by giving consideration to aspects of the job, such as the skills involved, under an NHS Job Evaluation Scheme. There are nine numbered pay bands sub-divided into points, and a set of national job profiles is agreed to assist in the process of matching posts to pay bands.

What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?

The agreed AfC 3 year pay deal for 2018-21 per se will not prevent the desired outcomes being achieved. NHS Scotland AfC staff are entitled to an appropriate pay uplift based on their grade and pay band as negotiated by NHS Staff Side, NHS Employers and the Scottish Government.

There are inherent differentials in the makeup of the workforce of NHS Scotland: for example, whilst there are more female staff working in NHS Scotland, the proportion of female staff in more senior positions is lower than the overall average.[1] This is a broader structural issue and not an effect of the AfC deal. However, the new pay structure does enable staff in AfC Bands 2-7 – in which the gender balance is more heavily female – to access the top of their pay band faster than under the previous scheme.

The changes to terms and conditions that were recommended by the sub-groups and endorsed by STAC at the meeting on 3 December 2018 will be applied consistently and fairly across all AfC staff and will not prevent any desired outcomes from being achieved.