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DH: Unsocial hours pay unnecessary for staff retention


17 July 2015

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The Department of Health (DH) branded unsocial hours payments unnecessary for the recruitment and retention of staff, in the Agenda for Change report, released this week.

The Department of Health (DH) branded unsocial hours payments unnecessary for the recruitment and retention of staff, in the Agenda for Change report, released this week.

They told the committee working on the report that the increased payments between 8pm-6am on weekdays, and all day Saturday and Sunday are not “in themselves necessary to recruit and retain the staff the NHS needs”.

All of the parties involved in creating the report (including    ) supported the implementation of seven-day care where there is an identified clinical need to do so, however some bodies disagreed about unsocial hours payments.

Contrasting the DH, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned that three quarters of nursing staff who do shift work were reliant on shift premia, and imposed changes to terms and conditions would cause further distress and risk industrial upset at a time of great uncertainty and upheaval.

The report suggested that money could be saved, as currently when over half of a shift is classed as unsocial hours the whole shift is paid with unsocial hours premia.

Currently, some employers share the Agenda for Change definition of unsocial hours starting at 8pm, however others use a 10pm definition, as suggested by NHS Employers. The report said “neither time would be seen as out of line”.

National and international evidence reveals that employees are generally compensated for working unsociable hours, reflecting factors such as increased worker costs, disruptions to family life, effects on worker physical and mental health and overall employee well-being, the report said.

The report also noted that there “appears to be potential for efficiencies in the healthcare system through a move to seven-day services, for example from improved patient care, better patient flow through the system, reduced length of stay in hospital and better utilization of assets and resources.”

In the context of current financial constraints, it concluded that it would be important to identify these, and further work is needed on this.

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