NHS Pay Ballot: FAQs

Don't lose your voice in this important vote.

GMB is asking our members in local government and in schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to take part in an online pay ballot.

View our frequently asked questions below.

What is the pay offer?

The Government in England have announced that they will follow the PRB recommendation of 3% for all Agenda for Change staff, backdated to 1st April 2021.

When will this be paid?

It is expected that it will be paid in October 2021.

The Government, in choosing to use the NHS Pay Review Body process, do not have to obtain the assent of trade unions before implementation. Therefore, Government may implement the 3%, regardless of unions ballot process timelines or results. Your vote is however still crucial. This is your chance to have your say on your pay and for you to notify GMB of your position – whether you support or oppose the 3%.

The pay increase was due from April 2021, will it be back-dated?

Yes it will be back dated to 1st April 2021. It is expected that back pay will be paid in October 2021.

Who will receive the 3%?

All staff directly employed on Agenda for Change Contracts working in NHS Trusts and Ambulance Services in England.  

Who doesn’t this apply to?

It does not apply to NHS Employers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scottish Government have already settled pay for NHS workers for 2021. There will be a separate ballot for NHS staff in Wales. There will be separate discussions for pay in Northern Ireland

It also does not apply to workers employed by NHS contractors, private employers or wholly owned subsidiaries who do not follow Agenda for Change Terms & Conditions – unless they have transferred from an NHS Trust and retained their Terms & Conditions under a TUPE transfer. 

I work for a private employer, or Wholly Owned Subsidiary; how can I know if this applies to me?

The 3% does not apply to workers employed by private employers, including Wholly Owned Subsidiaries, who do not follow Agenda for Change Terms & Conditions – unless they have transferred from an NHS Trust and retained their Terms & Conditions under a TUPE transfer. 

If you are unsure, contact your local GMB Representative and they will be able to advise.

What is 3% worth to me?

The total hourly increase to each pay point is:

2020/21 hourly rate (£)

3% Increase in Pence and New Hourly Rate

 Band 1




Band 2













Band 3







Band 4







Band 5













Band 6













Band 7
















Band 8a








What about part time workers?

The percentage increase would be applied in full to your actual salary. 

I have more than one job, what about me?

The percentage increase is applied in full to your salary for each job, providing they are all for the same employer and are on Agenda for Change Terms & Conditions.

How will my pension be affected?

Percentage increases are pensionable (and subject to National Insurance and tax).

What’s the schedule for GMB’s consultative ballot?

The ballot will open on:

Friday 6th August 2021

and closes at Noon on:

Friday 17th September 2021.

Any ballot papers received after this date will not be valid. Spoilt ballot papers will not be counted. Only members of GMB union are allowed to vote.

What is GMB recommending?

GMBs National NHS Advisory Group and National Ambulance Committee consists of elected representatives from all GMB Regions. They have considered the pay offer in detail and are rejecting.


Your GMB National NHS Advisory Group and National Ambulance Committee are recommending you Vote to Reject in the upcoming ballot. 3% falls far short of the restorative pay increase of 15%, or £2 per hour, which we have been calling for.


GMB is also calling into question the independence and validity of a pay review body that has failed to seriously consider our evidence as to why a significant increase is essential this year to reward and recognise staff and to also address the huge staffing crisis in the NHS and potential retention crisis.


You can see how much money you have lost in real terms by accessing the GMB Pay Loss Calculator   


The GMB pay claim also called for unsocial hours enhancements to be payable to all staff who had to take time off work due to sickness. There should never be a situation where an NHS workers faces a financial detriment for being ill, or is forced in to attending work ill as they cannot afford not to. The claim also called for a commitment that NHS pay should never fall below a real living wage again as it has done this year. 

What is a consultative ballot?

This is a consultative pay ballot only and not a ballot for industrial action. This ballot is to help GMB understand our members opinions of the 3%.

If the majority of GMB members vote to reject the 3%, it is possible that a second consultative ballot will take place to determine whether members are willing to take part in industrial action on this issue.

What is meant by industrial action?

Trade unions always try to resolve disputes through negotiation. But when that doesn’t work, industrial action may be needed as a last resort.

The industrial action you probably hear most about is going on strike. But there are other actions workers can take, such as picketing, go-slows, overtime bans and work to rule.

In Britain, the right to strike is governed by complex and restrictive industrial action laws. In summary, to count as ‘protected industrial action’, a strike must:

  • relate to a work dispute with your own employer.
  • be supported by a valid secret postal ballot with independent scrutiny, in which at least of half the balloted workers have voted (in other words, “not voting” counts as a vote against the strike).
  • be carried out with notice.

In addition, strikes involving workers who provide what the government calls an “important public service” can only be lawful if at least 40% of the workers balloted over the action vote in favour of it.  

What questions will be on the ballot paper?

On the ballot paper you will be asked whether you accept or reject the 3%. Please mark only one option box. Spoilt ballot papers will not be counted. 

How do I vote?

Your region will contact you with details of how you can vote. Your GMB Representative will also be able to advise you on the ballot process.

What do I do if I haven’t received a ballot paper?

Each GMB region is running their own consultative ballot, so ballot papers will be issued in a variety of ways, including online, workplace ballots and postal methods. For more details on how you can expect to receive your ballot paper, or to request another ballot paper to be issued, please contact your local GMB rep.

Alternatively, you can email:

I’m not a GMB member, can I vote?

Only GMB members can have a vote.

Join today!

What happens after the ballot closes?

Once the ballot closes, your NHS National Advisory Group and National Ambulance Committee will meet to consider the results and determine the next steps in this campaign.

What will happen if GMB members reject the 3%?

The Government announcement on NHS Pay is what they intend to pay all NHS workers, back dated to 1st April 2021. They have arrived at this amount after consideration of the Pay Review Body recommendation on pay. It is not a negotiation process with the Unions and therefore it is expected that this pay award will be implemented, regardless of the outcome of union ballots. 

If we reject the pay offer, there is no guarantee that any additional money will be forthcoming. This would be a political decision made by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.   

However, the consultation process is your right to have your say on pay and send a message to Government about what you think of their pay offer. We have successfully challenged and changed Government positions before – we can do it again!

GMB strongly recommends that all members use their vote. Your national committees are recommended that you Vote to Reject.

If the ballot result is rejected by the majority of GMB members we will consider next steps, which may include conducting a ballot for industrial action. 

Join us and become a GMB member today.
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