Returning to work - don't understand how pay scales work

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mustgetalife | 01:48 Wed 16th Apr 2008 | Jobs & Education
11 Answers
After 16yrs at home with the kids, I am hoping to return to the workplace. I have been shortlisted for a job with NHS and have an interview next week. This job is 30hrs. Band 3 �14,437-�17,257 pro-rata. Being new to the NHS I would start on the lower end if I was successful at interview.
Another job I fancy is for the Council and this is 35hrs Grade 5 �18,907 to �21,412 (bar at �20,736). I am suitably experienced for this job and presume I would be shortlisted for this one in the next few weeks.

I suppose it depends how many weeks holiday etc but I don't understand how to work out what these different salaries mean. I wish they'd state �7 an hour or something, so I'd know where I stand.
Could someone please explain what the above salaries mean please?

Finally, if I was offered the first job, can I delay accepting it in case the other one is better?
Please help - Haven't a clue about this working lark any more!!


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(2-part post):

The number of weeks holiday doesn't affect the calculations because you're still getting paid for those weeks. (i.e. whether you get hardly any holidays or loads of holidays, you'll still get paid for 52 weeks).

The starting point for the council job (�18907) equates to �393.60 (gross) per week or �10.40 per hour. After knocking off Income Tax and National Insurance, your take home pay would be �1227.79 per month (which equates to �283.34 per week). Those figures don't take account of local authority pension scheme payments, which would actually reduce your take home pay slightly.

The figures for the NHS job are harder to calculate because 'pro rata' is meaningless unless you know how many hours per week full time employees work. For example, if full-time employees work 40 hours per week (and you work 30), you'll receive three quarters of the full-time gross salary. (Three quarters of the starting point pay works out at �10,827 p.a.gross). However, if full-time employees work 35 hours per week (and you work 30), you'll receive six sevenths of their gross pay. (That's �12,375 p.a. gross at the starting point of the scale).
If full time employees work 40 hours, your gross pay would equate to �208.23 per week or �6.94 per hour. Your take home pay would be �763.23 per month (which is equivalent to �176.13 per week).

If full time employees work 35 hours, your gross pay would equate to �237.97 per week or �7.93 per hour. Your take home pay would be �852.17 per month (which is equivalent to �196.65 per week).

(The 'take home' figures in the previous two paragraphs would actually be slightly lower in practice, as you'd probably be paying into the NHS pension scheme).

Pay calculations have been derived from here: p

If you were offered the NHS job, you could ask the employer how long they'd give you to make up your mind about whether to accept. They might be prepared to give you some time but they might also demand an almost immediate answer (and withdraw the job offer if you didn't quickly accept it). Alternatively, you could accept the first job offer anyway and then ask if you could be released from your commitment if you were later offered the other job. The NHS wouldn't be obliged to release you but (if they had several other suitable candidates) they might be prepared to do so.

Question Author
WOW!! What can I say. Thank You so much for such a bril answer. I feel really out of my depth with looking for employment and it's hard to understand, as you say, what pro-rata stands for, dependent upon what the usual weekly hours are. I would hazard a guess at 36hrs but I could be wrong.
I've been for an interview with the NHS before and they usually, so I'm told, decide/let you know, the same day via telephone call. In this case where my interview is next week, they have already requested info from my 2 references. I wouldn't have a clue what to do if I was offered the job, sign this contract etc. Do you get thinking time with these things? My username says it all really, I would like to find something for me, but at the same time, having not worked for so long, it's a frightening prospect. Do they stipulate a probationary period/get out clause if you don't like each other and it's not working out?

Many thanks for all the figures, it has really helped. XX
Chris (buenchico) is right to be wary of the pro rata bit - it could be pro rata to a 35, 37.5 or even 40 hour week!!

(Hi Chris, by the way - long time no post!)

However, the 30 hour week may suit your needs, even if it pays "less" - only you know your reasons for wanting to return to work!

The other thing about public sector pay scales is the ability / opportunity to progress.

Both jobs offer a salary range, so you could expect to enter at the lower end and progress to the higher.

However, with one position, you may receive an increase after completion of, say, six months, and then incremental increases after that, but never be able to progress beyond that Grade / Scale / Band.

The other, you may have opportunities to progress to a higher Grade / Scale / Band with greater earning potential more quickly, even though the starting salary is less.

You need to find out how the pay structure works for each position, - ask at any interview if necessary - and whether the the position is Scale-restricted or 'capped'. This means you could work in the same job for 55 years and not be allowed to progress to the next scale irrespective of your ability!!

The second of your jobs looks like it is capped, ("bar at �20,736") ?? Which means it may not be the best long-term career move even though it pays better initially.

I used to work in Local Authority Education, and our Borough's pay scales were totally different to the neighbouring Borough's - not in terms of salary, but structure - if we used Scale F's, G's and H's the other Borough's would use Grade 1's, 2's and 3's!!

All I can advise is find out as much as you can and pick the one that most suits you and your situation !

Wishing you all the best for next week!

pod x

Question Author
Thanks for that pod. The NHS job is based at a hosp that is possibly closing down as a whopping big service is being built elsewhere in the city and the services are being centralised within the next year. The job is advertised as permanent but with no mention of the 'move'. Other jobs based at the hospital state that "you could be involved in our new state of the art service..." i.e. that you will be moving along with the service. This job I'm going for doesn't mention that.
The Council job is a fixed term - End 31.03.2010
Looks like I have a few questions to ask then!! What I don't understand is why state 18K-21.5K yet it's barred at 20K.

Thank you for your good wishes for the interview. I'm off to bed now, so will check back for answers in the morning.
Goodnight X
After such a good couple of answers, it'll be hard to make an impact!
The bar means that one does not automatically progress up the scale past the bar purely based upon 'time-served' in the job. The bar point is the maximum one can reach without a performance review that is decided merits taking the employee through the bar.
Knowing Local Authorities as I do, the bar point has and can be used to limit pay in a year when finances are tight. It shouldn't be used in that manner.
and since agenda for change the "full time" for NHS has been standardised at 37.5 hours, so 30 hours prorated would be 4/5ths
The Council salary may also be barred because it is a fixed term contract - increments are normally at certain time points eg after finishing probation, then annually thereafter. So if the fixed term contract is only for 18 months you would get two rises, one at 6 months probation completion and one a year later, so even though theoretically the post can be graded higher than that, you won't be there long enough to reach the higher scales.
NHS admin jobs are usually calculated at 37 hrs for full-time and for nursing 37.5 hrs per week.
Sorry Bednobs, didn't see your answer!
Question Author
Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to my question. Out of the 53 who went for the one job, I was one of 9 to be interviewed. Apparently it was a close call and I was in the top 2 so it had gone to full scrutiny of the interview panel answers. I was pipped at the post, though funnily enough, it did go to a healthcare worker! I was told my interview technique was excellent, which does make me feel better as I'm new at this. I can't help the fact that I don't already work within the NHS. It can sometimes be 'jobs for the boys' but I understand that jobs have to be advertised, even though somebody is already doing the job.
Today is the closing date for applications for the Council job, so I shall wait and see on that one. It has been a learning experience.
Kind Regards to you all and thanks again for the replies.

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