If you work in the NHS you will probably have heard about incremental pay increases – the system of pay progression used in the NHS.

Staff working on Agenda for Change – the national pay scale – receive incremental pay increases (pay progression) based on the number of years they have been working in a particular NHS pay band.

These increments are paid in addition to any annual pay rise, and are designed to reward staff for the skills and experience they develop over time.

Before Agenda for Change was reformed in 2019, staff used to receive an incremental payment every year until they reached the top of their band.

Now staff in every band except band 1 (which is closed to new entrants) receive between either one, or two incremental payments. The number and timing of these increments depends on which band they are in.

Summary of Pay Increments by NHS Pay Band

A summary of the pay step points for each Agenda for Change band is below.

Staff in Band 1 do not have any step points and therefore do not receive any incremental pay increases – they just receive their annual pay rise. This is because no new staff are currently being appointed to this band.

Staff in Bands 2, 3 and 4 receive one incremental payment. In band 2, the step point is after two years. However at the moment, there is no actual increase in pay for staff in band 2 once they reach their step point. Staff in bands 3 and 4 receive their incremental payments after two years (band 3) or after 3 years (band 4).

Bands 5, 6 and 7 have two step points. All staff in these bands receive their first incremental payment at the end of two years’ service. Staff in Band 5 receive their second incremental pay increase after four years of continuous service. However, staff in Band 6 and Band 7 have to wait an extra year and receive their second increment after five years of continuous service.

All staff in bands 8a, 8b, 8c, 8d and 9 receive one increment. This increment is paid after five years of service. Staff working in bands 8c, 8d and 9 have to re-earn this payment each year by meeting relevant standards. If they don’t meet those standards, they lose either 5% or 10% of their pay for the year (but can re-apply for the increment the following year.)

The table below shows the pay that NHS staff receive in each band after each year of service.

Band0-1 years1-2 years2-3 years3-4 years4-5 years5+ years
2023-24 Agenda for Change Basic Annual Salary (Full time)

How does pay progression work for part time NHS staff?

NHS staff who are working less than full time receive pay increments on the same schedule as their full time colleagues. Pay progression is based on years of service, not the amount of time worked in each year.

Does continuous service with another NHS employer count towards pay progression?

Yes, previous continuous service at the same band as the role you are appointed to counts towards pay progression, even if it was at a different NHS employer.

For example, if you had worked for 3 years in a Band 3 role and then were appointed to another Band 3 role, you would be retain the increment you have already earned.

If you are appointed to a new role in a higher band, then usually you will be appointed at the bottom of that band.

Does maternity Leave count towards pay progression?

Staff on leave (whether this be maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, sick leave or even special leave) will usually receive their pay increment as if they had been working during that period.

There are a few exceptions to this, which are detailed in Annex 23 of the NHS terms and conditions handbook.

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