How do you decide if your nursing agency pays the best rates?

The sheen on agency nursing has not lost its luster yet, as many nurses are taking that route either to enter into nursing or, switch from traditional nursing. The pay has become a hot topic as there is a call for the pay rates to match the demands of the job.

We’ve heard a lot about how pay raises are going to be fair for nurses and the NHS’s “Agenda for Change Pay Rates”. But is your agency keeping up with these pay raises? How do you decide if your nursing agency pays the best rates? Our guide below will help you answer these questions and help you understand if your agency is the best paid nursing agency or not.

Rates vary according to Bands

The first angle to understand when it comes to pay rates is that they vary with bands. A band is a range of pay for a certain role based on experience, skills, qualifications, and specialisation. The NHS has nine bands based on job profiles and nursing staff are placed on band 5 and above.

So, the agency you work for should differentiate pay rates based on the bands and pay you according to your band.

Rates vary according to Shift Time

Rates will also vary based on the time of your shift. If you are a band five nurse and working a day shift during weekdays, you may end up getting paid about £27.94 per hour, while working in the night shift you may get paid about £29.57. These rates are for nursing home and hospice nurses. For a specialised nurse such as a cardiac nurse, or an A&E nurse, the rates could go up to £45.29 for day and £46.66 for night shifts.

So, even for the same band, the rates will vary depending on the shift timings, the work setting, experience, and your speciality. The best paid nursing agency should try to match the pay to your qualifications and experience to justify the demands of work.

Rates vary for Weekends and Holidays

The pay for a band 5 nurse, working in a nursing home or hospice, on a Saturday is approximately £34.65 and for Sunday is about £38.73. Working on public holidays pays even more with rates as high as £44.90. If you are a band 5 nurse, but specialise in cardiac, oncology, or A&E the rates can go up to £49.10 on Saturdays, £53.91 on Sundays, and £60.77 on holidays.

You need to make sure that your agency pays you extra for working on weekends and holidays.

Rates vary based on Location

Many agencies understand that some locations in the UK are expensive to live in and therefore will offer you higher pay if you are willing to work in those locations. Continuing with the example of a band 5 nurse, the pay for working in cities such as Bristol, Oxfordshire, Kent, Berkshire, etc., may start at £29.77, for a day shift on weekdays, in a nursing home or hospice. For specialised nurses, the day shift rates can start at £47.05 for weekdays.

Additional Benefits

Many nursing agencies are recognising the need to retain experienced and skilled staff and are therefore offering additional benefits alongside higher pay. Additional benefits may include:

Accommodation – Many agencies provide nurses with accommodation when they bring nurses from other locations. So, if you are looking for nursing jobs in other cities, make sure that the agency also takes care of your accommodation there. This will translate into huge savings in terms of rent and should be considered while analysing the pay rates.

The advantage of living in the agency provided accommodation is that they will most likely provide you with transportation to work and back. That means more savings for you.

Pension Schemes – Agencies have also begun to enroll their nurses into pension schemes after they have worked for the agency for a set period. While this is not a direct monetary benefit, it should be given due consideration as it will impact you in the long run.

Training and Development Programs – Agencies have begun to encourage their nurses to enrollintraining programs in order to develop them professionally. They offer to pay for at least part of the program. The amount they pay may vary from agency to agency, but it is an important factor that cannot be ignored as acquiring new skills will lead to better pay.

It’s important to take into account such non-monetary benefits as they will give you savings and help you with career advancement opportunities. Pick an agency that provides at least a few such benefits other than pay.

Nursing is a physically and emotionally demand profession and most employers are recognising that the pay should match the demands of the job. Many agencies offer competitive rates and additional benefits to their nurses to keep them from moving to the competition. Now, you know what to find when comparing agency rates. So, find an agency that pays the best rates and takes care of its nurses. Happy nursing!