​Introduction of modernised terms and conditions for NI Community Dental Service – FAQs

​Balloting, negotiations and contract 

What exactly has been negotiated, and who negotiated the new arrangements? 

Workforce Policy Directorate at the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPSNI) and the BDA’s Northern Ireland Salaried Dentists Committee (NISDC) have negotiated new terms, conditions and pay for all community dentists in Northern Ireland.

This follows the introduction of a new contract in England and Wales in 2008, and in Scotland in 2013.

The result is a modernised set of pay and terms and conditions to support the Community Dental Service in Northern Ireland. 
Why has it taken so long? 

This has been a complex and lengthy process but productive discussions have taken place on creating the supporting policies and systems (such as appraisals, job planning and job competencies) for a new service. This resulted in agreement to allow the terms, conditions and pay modernisation package to progress.
Progress on this seems to have finally been made very quickly. Why is this?
Money has been secured to fund the pay modernisation in the deal by DHSSPSNI in the current financial year (2015/16).

Who will be balloted?
All dentists working in the Community Dental Service will be balloted on the changes to the terms and conditions and remuneration package. 

How much information will we be given for the ballot and will I be able to comment in detail?
A full description of the summary agreement, outlining the key areas of change, is included in the ballot pack. This will be sent to everyone entitled to vote. BDA members only will be able to access the BDA’s advisory services for further information. This service will not be available to non-members.

What will happen if we vote no?
If a ‘no’ vote is returned, the new pay rates and terms and conditions would not be implemented and the current Terms & Conditions including payscales will continue to apply. 

If the ballot votes in favour of accepting the contract, can I personally choose whether to move onto it or remain with my old contract?
No. If a “yes” vote is returned, the modernised pay and terms and conditions will be applied to all dentists working in the Community Dental Service.

If we vote “yes”, when will the new pay rates be applied?
Pay increases will be backdated to 1 April 2015, but the date of actual payment will depend on how quickly each individual Trust applies the new arrangements. To ensure as much consistency as possible when the new arrangements are advised to Trusts in the relevant pay circular, this will include an implementation date by which all Trusts will need to have implemented the new arrangements.

Some Trusts will take longer than others to process new salary rates and, while frustrating, it is not unusual for new pay increases to take some time to arrive in salaries. The backdating of pay to 1 April 2015 will ensure that no-one actually loses out because of any local delays.


Pay assimilation and pay progression

What is the pay increase due under the new pay system?
Full details are available in the Pay assimilation section of the main BDA information circular in the ballot packs. Everyone moving to the new system will receive a pay increase. The percentage applied may vary between grades and pay points. The average increase in pay under the new pay system is 4.4% although individual levels of increase will vary
Why are some pay increases higher than others? 

The new pay arrangements align pay rates in Northern Ireland with those applied in England, Wales and Scotland. This ‘pay modernisation’ is not designed necessarily to deliver pay increases, but negotiations have ensured that everyone will move up to their new pay point in the new system, leading to the different rates of pay increase as described earlier.

Everyone will benefit from a pay increase. Additionally, the new pay bands will also be increased, giving greater earnings potential for everyone either immediately, for those already at their pay maximum in the old pay system, or in the longer term, for those lower in the pay scale. 

Why is there a particularly high pay increase between points 2 and 3 of pay Band A?

The new pay scale adopts the pay rates elsewhere in the UK in full. In England and Wales pay point 3 represents a competence threshold that has to be met in order to progress any further in the pay system. That ‘performance’ competency test will also be applied in Northern Ireland hence the reason why this increment is larger; it reflects the competency ‘gateway’ agreed as part of the deal. 

How do I pass through the “gateway” points?
The ‘gateway’ represents a basic standard of performance expected within a grade that must be achieved before further pay progression can be earned.

You would be assessed against the gateway using the normal annual appraisal system contained within the new contract. 

I am already beyond the pay point of the gateway in the current system, will I have to ‘pass’ the competency level for the gateway in order to receive my higher level pay?
No. For the introduction of the new contract, all dentists currently at or above the gateway pay point will be assumed to be already performing at an appropriate level.

The proposals include working an extra 30 minutes. Doesn’t this mean that for some people the pay increases are not enough to compensate for the increase in hours worked?

Everyone will be required to work 37.5 hours, up from 37, as part of the new terms and conditions. This would align dentists’ working hours with other NHS staff, particularly dental nurses and other staff working for the dental service.

No-one will lose out. Even with the additional half hour, everyone will see an increase in pay.

Will the extra 30 minutes’ working also be backdated to 1 April 2015?

No. The extra 30 minutes’ working will only apply from the date the new arrangements are actually applied in each Trust. 

When will the extra 30 minutes need to be worked?

This will be determined between staff and managers, depending on existing local working arrangements. There is no assumption that the extra 30 minutes will simply be added to the Friday nor that it be added as an extra 6 minutes per day (in the case of full time staff).

I work part-time. Must I work the additional time?

There may be reasons why your current working hours are necessary due to other commitments. Part-time employees will have the option of retaining their current part-time hours contract as it is, or to have this amended to reflect the proportional increase based on the extra 30 minutes. For example, an employee currently working 20 hours per week can continue to work 20 hours per week or increase their hours to 20 hours 16 minutes. In either option, pay will still increase under the new system.

Are there any restrictions on my annual incremental progress toward the pay maximum under this new system?

Pay progression will continue subject to satisfactory appraisal against agreed competences, until you reach your new pay maximum subject to existing restrictions where under-performance has been identified.


Training and Development Budget 

What does this budget mean in practical terms?
Employers should view the training and development budget to mean that they will have a new training budget worth £750 for every dentist in their employment (including part time dentists) – e.g. £7500 per annum if they employ ten dentists, and so on. This budget should be utilised to fund the personal and professional development of dentists in in line with service needs and PDPs agreed through appraisal and job planning processes. This allocation should be used “flexibly” meaning that some dentists can receive more than others in any one year. In practical terms this means that not every dentist will necessarily receive £750 worth of training each year – it may be that they receive less in some years and more in others. However, good practice means that this should be undertaken on an equitable and fair basis, linked to service needs, which may be assessed over more than one year.
Is the budget exclusively for dental training? Or can it be used for Trust statutory & mandatory training? 

The budget is “for training linked to the new appraisal and job planning process” and thus must not be used for statutory and mandatory training. 

What about part time staff? Is allowance pro-rata? 

No. The training budget of £750 is per dentist, including part time dentists.
I work part time for 2 Trusts. Does this mean that I have £750 from both employers to spend on training?
Strictly speaking yes. However we would expect that in such cases both Trusts will speak to each other at Clinical Director level to ensure that there is no duplication of training.
Will I be given the £750 directly?
No. The money will be held by the Trust and used for suitable and appropriately identified training.



I am on a GDC specialist list. I think I would be a Band C specialist dentist, but my Trust has not assimilated me onto the band C pay scale. What can I do?
Dentists who are on the specialist list will not be regraded or assimilated onto the Band C Specialist Dentist pay scale. HSC Trust’s must raise a business case to apply for the establishment of a specialist dentist post. The business case is submitted to the DHSSPS for consideration and approval. Once approval for the creation of the post is granted the employer will be responsible for advertising the post which will be through an open competition. Simply being on a specialist list does not mean Band C pay will be applied.


New terms and conditions of service

I have a term-time only contract – can I keep it?
Yes. All flexible contractual arrangements previously negotiated can be retained, with adjustment as necessary for the additional 30 minutes’ working time for the week.


New appraisal system/job planning and competencies

Annual appraisal    

We don’t have a formal appraisal system in my Trust, so what will happen to me with the new arrangements?

Your Trust must provide an annual appraisal under the terms of the new contract. The new contract includes newly-designed appraisal forms and supporting documentation that must be applied as part of the new contract. 

My Trust does have a formal appraisal system but I have not received an appraisal under this system for two years. Will this situation be the same under the new contract?
As stated above your Trust must provide an annual appraisal under the terms of the new contract. All staff should have an initial job planning and appraisal objective setting by 1 April 2017 at the latest.
My Trust appears happy with the current annual appraisal system they have in place. Why should they change?

The new appraisal system has been designed specifically for the Community Dental Service, and must be adopted by all Trusts
Can my appraisal or job planning exercise be completed by a non- clinical manager?

No. Your appraisal can only be completed by a dental manager with the appropriate clinical qualifications. This should be a one to one, clinician to clinician process. If other arrangements are put to you, you should raise this with your line manager in the first instance. If you are a BDA member, you may contact the BDA Employment Relations team for advice. 

Will training be provided for staff on the new appraisal system?
While we believe that the new appraisal system will work well for dentists in the Community Dental Service we do recognise that the system is different and training will be provided for both appraisers and staff undergoing an appraisal.

Job planning
The new arrangements include needing to complete Job Plans. Is this a good thing?

Yes. We very much think so. All major clinical contracts (including salaried dental contracts in England, Wales and Scotland) include job planning as they give clinicians much greater control over what exactly they do, and when, within their available time. It also helps define important functions such as administrative time, out-of-hours commitments, training needs and personal development.

Job competencies

Where have the job competencies come from? 

The domains reflect the competencies applied for the service in England and Wales. They were developed in 2008 to support the introduction of new terms and conditions there, and were themselves developed from work published by the Committee for Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (COPDEND) www.copdend.org.uk. These have proved to work well when applied to the job planning and appraisal systems in England, Scotland and Wales.
What do I do if I disagree with the job competencies for my post?
Discuss further with your clinical director and HR. If you cannot resolve this issue through mediation using local Trust HR policies and you are a BDA member, you should contact your BDA Employment Relations Officer. 

I have been assimilated from dental officer to Band A, but I think my job requires the competencies of a Band B senior dentist, what can I do?
There is no automatic re-grading mechanism within the new terms and conditions. If you believe that your current role is graded incorrectly, you should raise this with your line manager in the first instance, or with your BDA Employment Relations Officer if necessary.

As with all other vacant or new posts in Northern Ireland, higher graded posts will be advertised when available, and existing staff members can apply if they can demonstrate they have the required competencies for the posts at the higher band.    


Annual Leave

I have less than 10 years’ service. Does that mean I will receive less as annual leave under the new contract?
No. All staff in this position will have their current annual leave allowance protected until they reach 10 years’ service if their current allowance is greater than that listed in the contract. No one will receive less in terms of annual leave as part of this deal.
I note that two statutory days are converted to annual leave under the contract? Is there no way I can keep these days?
We anticipate that a number of staff will wish to continue to take these days off and these should be applied for as with any other request for annual leave.