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  • 08 July 2024
  • 2 min read

Is having to drop a pay band to have flexible working acceptable?

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“It’s a penalty for having children, it’s a penalty for being a carer. But it’s heartening to hear that the RCN might take it up”

The RCN general secretary has labelled the practice of effectively demoting staff to lower pay bands after requesting flexible working as ‘shameful’.

Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary, vowed to have the RCN’s lawyers investigate the issue.

Professor Alison Leary from London South Bank University revealed that nursing professionals in the NHS are having to choose between career progression and workable hours to accommodate their family lives.

Move encourages nurses to seek agency work

“Nurses are told time and time again that you can’t do fewer hours as a band 6 or a band 7…They are then offered a band 5 role say, and they have to leave their job to take up another role in order to go part time. Or they move to the bank or agency,” Leary explained.

“It’s a penalty for having children, it’s a penalty for being a carer. But it’s heartening to hear that the RCN might take it up,” she said.

Do you think that it should be forbidden to force nurses to work on a lower pay band if they ask for flexible working? And should the recent laws around flexible working have covered this contingency? Let us know in the comments below.

Lack of flexibility for new mums returning to nursing

Rebecca, a band 6 emergency department nurse recalled: “When I returned from maternity leave I was told that the matron would only allow band 6 nurses to work a minimum of 30 hours per week to retain their band, and I would have to drop down to a band 5. I tried to fight my case, but in the end I had to accept their terms.

“I qualified as a nurse in 2009 and felt very disappointed that a profession that is a majority female employer lacked compassion and care for its employees,” she lamented.

“This is a silent massive problem in the NHS. Telling someone they can only be a certain band if they work part-time is absolute nonsense”

Gill Morgan - RCN national officer

Another nurse who had been working at band 8a prior to going on maternity leave told the Nursing Standard that she had to take a role at band 6 when she returned, following the denial of her request for flexible working to accommodate her new childcare needs.

Another nurse quit nursing altogether after her trust refused to permit her to work weekend shifts in order to manage her autistic daughter's care requirements.

Do you think the NHS is shooting itself in the foot if by its inflexibility on this issue? Is it causing nurses to leave not only the NHS, but the nursing profession as well? Leave a comment below.

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About this contributor

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.

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    • Mat Martin 12 days ago
      Mat Martin
    • Mat Martin
      12 days ago

      Yes being downgraded should not happen . Nurses are paid on their responsibility, knowledge and competency in skills for their role ... read more

    • Mat Martin 14 days ago
      Mat Martin
    • Mat Martin
      14 days ago

      "I had to resign because I am starting uni and the hospital won't accommodate me." - E-mail comment from Amber ... read more

    • Peter Ogbaji 14 days ago
      Peter Ogbaji
    • Peter Ogbaji
      14 days ago

      People should get informed about a profession before making career choices. Also, knowledge of what prospective employers offer is crucial ... read more

    • Sue Hester 15 days ago
      Sue Hester
    • Sue Hester
      15 days ago

      When I was in employment many of my jobs were part time,some even job sharing and my grade was always ... read more

    • Alexis Ward 15 days ago
      Alexis Ward
    • Alexis Ward
      15 days ago

      I'm in the Same position, I've went onto bank to get the hours I could work as stayed a band ... read more

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