Job evaluation - because you're worth it

Thu 01 Dec 2016

MiP Conference 2016: With STPs set to bring sweeping changes to posts and job descriptions across the NHS, delegates at a conference workshop discussed how to protect the integrity of the job evaluation system.

“Job evaluation is the core of Agenda for Change, it’s what the whole thing rests on,” explained Helga Pile, UNISON’s lead for job evaluation on the NHS Staff Council. She described how the partnership approach – with unions and employers agreeing how jobs should be fairly evaluated and graded – was under threat.

“People are not getting training, employers are using outside consultants with no experience of the NHS or Agenda for Change, and they’re looking for shortcuts, not evaluating all the factors and not doing consistency checking,” she said.

MiP national officer Claire Pullar described how so-called desktop evaluations, “done by one person in a darkened room”, with no consistency checking and no appeals, often resulted in posts being unfairly downgraded.

She shared one example with delegates – a public health consultant who had been transferred to a local authority during the Lansley reforms. The job had been evaluated by an outside consultant with no NHS experience, who had made numerous mistakes and even added up the final score wrongly. This would have resulted in the post being downgraded from Band 9 to Band 8D, and a potential loss of £18,000 in salary.

“It looks as though they were trying to downgrade the job and this was not a very subtle way of doing it,” said Pullar. “Looking at it properly, he’s comfortably into Band 9. But they wanted to reduce his pay with immediate effect.”

One MiP member from a London trust said downgrading was “rife” where she worked. “People were systematically downgraded and it was put to them ‘you either take this or there will be nothing for you’. So people took it and two years later the problems with it are really emerging.”

Pile warned that employers would find it difficult to defend an equal pay claim if they had not followed the guidelines in the NHS job evaluation handbook. “That’s what they pay most attention to,” she said.

She added that employers could often get away with shoddy practices because many people did not understand how the job evaluation system worked or how it could affect them. UNISON and MiP aimed to fill the knowledge gap by offering training and guidance for members and local union reps, she said.

MiP is encouraging members and local reps to find out more about job evaluation and help to ensure it is carried out fairly in their organisations. For more information contact Claire Pullar at

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