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NHS Job Evaluation

The NHS job evaluation scheme protects equal pay and fair banding in the NHS. But in many employers, the scheme is badly implemented. Use the resources and guides on this page to make sure your members are getting the right pay for the work they do.

Cover of UNISON JE Booklet. Office scene with text - "Job Evaluation - is your employer getting it right?"

What is the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme?

The NHS job evaluation (JE) scheme came together as part of the introduction of Agenda for Change in 2004. Before its introduction, the NHS could not prove it was making rational decisions about equal pay for its staff. Major court cases were decided against the NHS and it had to pay significant compensation to mostly female groups such as speech therapists. A valid job evaluation scheme was needed.

By underpinning Agenda for Change with a JE scheme, the NHS met the key tests of equal pay legislation. The system is:

  • jointly owned and run by employers and trade unions in partnership
  • a system for comparing different jobs, applying agreed rules
  • a way of establishing an internal rank order of jobs using agreed demand weighting
  • an assessment of all significant job demands but only measures them once
  • measurement of jobs and not the people doing those jobs
  • free from bias
  • transparent and has a review procedure

The NHS JE scheme has been tested in court since its introduction. It was found to be valid and protected equal pay when implemented properly. However, any JE scheme is only as good as local implementation. If the NHS JE scheme is being poorly run locally, a well designed national scheme is not enough!

At the moment, UNISON is worried that the NHS JE scheme is being poorly implemented locally, creating equal pay risks for employers and unfair pay outcomes for staff. In particular, many roles have changed over time and not been re-assessed, leaving many members and staff potentially significantly underpaid.

How is UNISON making sure Job Evaluation works?

Up and down the country, members like you have been organising in UNISON to fight and win re-banding claims using the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme. Members have made JE a top issue for NHS employers by proving that when roles change and get more complex, we will fight to make sure bands change too.

We are running more than 80 HCA Band 2-to-3 campaigns under the “Pay Fair for Patient Care” tagline, and have won over £50 million for staff who have been working above their band for years. Where employers haven’t paid enough attention to JE for a long time, some HCAs have fought for and won up to £17,000 each in back pay. More and more members are getting organised in other areas too – nurses, phlebotomists, catering assistants and admin workers are all realising the NHS JE scheme hasn’t been implemented properly in their employers.

We want to win these campaigns and make sure under-banding disappears from the NHS.

That’s why UNISON is running a JE Capacity Project to strengthen local job evaluation. We are also leading the NHS Job Evaluation Group to make sure the scheme works nationally. UNISON is:

  • Rolling out training for organisers and staff on using the JE scheme.
  • Directing members and branches to UNISON training on JE.
  • Developing regional networks of JE expertise.
  • Mapping out local areas of strength and weakness in JE.
  • Helping employers get JE back in house.

How can we identify local issues?

You might already suspect that there are issues with JE in your employer. Many members feel they or their colleagues are working above their band. However, JE campaigns work best when we understand the scheme and work together, when members can draw on the resources of branches and organising staff.

The first thing to do is always to get in touch with your branch who might be able to explain the JE situation in your employer. One easy issue to diagnose is outsourcing of the JE process, which we know delivers poor outcomes for staff. 

UNISON has tools and expertise available for branches and organisers to help assess whether there are major local issues with the JE scheme. The quickest and easiest of these is the JE Quick-Assessment Traffic Light.

Download the Quick-Assessment Traffic-Light

Remember to send us a copy of your traffic light to help us build up a picture of JE implementation across the UK. 

If branches want to go a step further, they can complete the NHS Employers JE Self-Assessment working jointly with their employers. This is a longer form and employers need to be involved every step of the way to discover issues together.

Complete the NHS JE Self-Assessment

Finally, support is always available from the national union on these issues.

Email us for further help and guidance

How can we fix local JE issues?

UNISON is prioritising supporting branches and organising members around local JE issues. The HCA re-banding campaign Pay Fair for Patient Care is a One UNISON national priority campaign with dedicated organisers in every region.

If you want to fix local JE issues, the first thing to do is get in touch with your branch, region or the national union. This will help you and your colleagues get support and resources for effective JE campaigning.

Contact the national union about your issue

Fixing issues around JE and delivering for members will always involve organising and working together. But it many issues can’t be fixed without good JE capacity, resourced by the employer and staff side. We know this is lacking across the country. That is why UNISON has developed a JE recovery guide alongside NHS Employers. This guide goes into more detail about how to work with employers to get local JE back on its feet, and build the infrastructure to win campaigns.

Download our JE Recovery Guide

Finally, consider getting trained on Job Evaluation. UNISON runs courses around using the scheme to deliver for members, and works with NHS Employers to make sure JE leads are properly trained.

Get trained on Job Evaluation

For members, reps and branch officers, UNISON runs one-day courses introducing the NHS JE scheme and how it is relevant to you. These courses are called “Organising around JE” and they are available in every UNISON region by contacting your regional education officers.

Email us to find out more about UNISON JE training

Members, reps and branches who have decided to get involved and are looking to become accredited as JE practitioners should get training through NHS Employers. This training is run on behalf of the NHS Staff Council and should be paid for by the employer. With a discount for a “partnership pair” of a management side and staff side trainees, these course are perfect to turn around JE capacity.

Courses can be directly commissioned by an employer, or trainees can be put forward onto national online courses running on fixed dates.

There are four levels of JE training available from NHS employers:

  • Job matching
  • Job evaluation
  • Consistency checking
  • Refresher training

Training opportunities through NHS Employers