Harmonising NHS Pay and Conditions: The Role of Agenda for Change and RotaMaster

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11 June 2024

The National Health Service (NHS) has undergone significant transformations over the years, with one of the most impactful being the implementation of the Agenda for Change (AfC) in December 2004. This initiative aimed to harmonise and modernise pay, conditions, terms of employment, and HR policies across the NHS. Let’s delve into the core principles of AfC, its historical milestones, and how RotaMaster supports its implementation.

Core Principles of Agenda for Change

The Agenda for Change was designed to address historical discrepancies in pay and working conditions within the NHS. Its core principles include:

  • Job Evaluation Scheme (JES): Jobs are evaluated using a standard set of criteria and pay bands, ensuring consistent and equal working conditions and pay across various skills and jobs.
  • Gender Pay Gap: AfC aimed to close the gender pay gap by addressing pay discrepancies between traditionally male-dominated and female-dominated roles within the NHS.
  • Pay Bands: The system allocates posts to set pay bands by considering aspects of the job such as skills involved, under the NHS Job Evaluation Scheme.

Key Milestones in NHS Pay and Conditions

Since its implementation, the Agenda for Change has seen several key changes and updates:

  • 2007: Changes to maternity pay and leave in line with the Work and Families Act 2007.
  • 2008: Introduction of a new pay system for unsocial hours payment and a multi-year pay settlement from 2008 to 2010.
  • 2010-2012: Public sector pay freeze.
  • 2011: Withdrawal of national recruitment and retention premiums.
  • 2012: Revisions to the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service (TCS) Handbook to ensure legal compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and Public Sector Duty, and the introduction of a new system for mileage payments.
  • 2015: Introduction of shared parental leave and new arrangements for redundancy pay.
  • 2018: A three-year pay deal that included a new structure, fewer pay points, and a new system of pay progression. Band 1 was also closed to new entrants.

How RotaMaster Supports Agenda for Change

RotaMaster plays a crucial role in managing AfC pay through its comprehensive Staff Pay system within the finance section. Here’s how RotaMaster helps:

  • Pay Group Setup: RotaMaster allows the setup of different pay groups and the rates of pay for each hour of the day.
  • Unsociable Hours Management: The system can determine when a shift becomes unsociable and how much of a shift needs to be unsociable for the entire shift to be considered unsociable from a pay perspective.
  • Shift Element Improvements: Recent improvements in the Shift Element sections of shifts for staff under the pay scheme enable customers to adjust where in a shift a break is placed, affecting the percentage of a shift worked at social and unsocial times.

These features are applied to staff members in each of the Rota Groups already created within the system, ensuring that the pay and conditions align with the principles of the Agenda for Change.


The Agenda for Change has been instrumental in modernising and harmonising pay and conditions within the NHS, addressing historical pay discrepancies, and ensuring equal working conditions. RotaMaster’s robust system supports these principles by providing flexible and precise management of pay and shifts, ensuring that NHS staff are compensated fairly and in line with the AfC guidelines. As the NHS continues to evolve, tools like RotaMaster will remain essential in maintaining the integrity and fairness of its pay structures.

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