If you work for the NHS, chances are you’re in good company, as they employ 1.5 million people across the country. This pandemic has caused the public to gain a greater appreciation for all NHS employees, but the profession also comes with many personal and financial benefits you may not have thought of before.
NHS benefits range from the Blue Light discount scheme, the renowned pension scheme, assistance with childcare and housing, and their flexible working opportunities. But they don’t stop there.
At Salad Money, we recognise your hard work as an NHS employer and realise it can be hard to find financial help and cover the cost of unexpected payments. A lot of typical lenders can be reluctant to lend to NHS employees who typically have a mixed-income stream or are on zero-hours contracts. However, we provide loans specifically designed for NHS staff, at a lower interest rate and assessed via Open Banking, rather than credit scores. We put your needs first and pride ourselves on giving NHS employees access to the financial help they may need.
Aside from being entitled to support from us, there are an array of benefits that come with being part of the NHS staff.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for flexible working across all sectors, but especially within the NHS, as employees are expected to work longer hours due to the increased strain on hospitals across the country.
The NHS recognises the need for flexible working, as many members of staff have families and have to plan their hours around their personal lives. Part of the benefits of being an NHS employee is having access to childcare benefit vouchers through the salary sacrifice scheme.
Most NHS trusts also have a Flexible Working Policy and Procedure which you can speak to your manager about and apply for. Additionally, the We Are the NHS: People Plan for 2020/21 is expected to place flexible working at the forefront after the experience of the pandemic - despite the scheme awaiting to be announced by the government, it is obvious that flexible working is becoming paramount to the NHS.
Discounts and the Blue Light Card
Every NHS worker will have a Blue Light card once they begin their employment, and this can be used with many companies around the UK, such as Prezzo, EE and National Express, which can save you money on food, retail and travel. Most retail outlets across the country will give you the option to save 10% on any purchase you make, as long as you show the card.
NHS benefits also include discounts on healthcare and related services, meaning you can make savings on travel, holiday deals and insurance. As long as you work in any role as part of the NHS you are entitled to a discount.
Many restaurants also have regular discounts for NHS workers, including the pizza chain Domino’s, who give 50% off every order. During the pandemic, there have also been discounts added across the country to recognise the hard work that all NHS workers have put in.
Check out Health Service Discounts as well, which give you loads of offers and benefits solely for NHS employees.
The NHS Pension Scheme
Known for being one of the most generous and secure pensions, this is one of the main benefits of being employed by the NHS. There are three main types of NHS pension, and it will depend on when you started working.
The schemes introduced in 1995 and 2008 pay NHS workers a final salary pension, whereas the most recent scheme in 2015 pays a career average, which is less generous. If workers opt to be included in the NHS salary sacrifice scheme in exchange for non-cash benefits, this can reduce the amount paid in pension contributions.
Both full time and part-time workers for the NHS will pay a percentage from their salary into a pension and it will be topped up generously by employer contributions. The rate of employer contributions increased in 2019 from 14.8% to 20.68%. Just as an example, if you are on the salary band of £15,432-£21,477, you’ll pay a contribution rate of 5%.
Many NHS trusts across the country have access to nurseries on-site and offer flexible working patterns so you can suit your hours around your children, but there’s also the childcare voucher scheme.
Through the salary sacrifice scheme, NHS employees can take a reduction in their salary to receive childcare vouchers equal to the amount of their salary exchanged. Conveniently, the employee doesn’t have to pay tax or national insurance on the amount of salary exchanged but receives further childcare support.
Additionally, due to the childcare difficulties experienced by NHS workers during the pandemic, The Induction and Refresher Scheme first introduced in 2016 now provides up to £2,000 of financial support designed to make it easier for GPs to go back to work.
Being an NHS employee, you can also get access to helpful mortgage schemes such as Help to Buy, and the First Homes program.
In 2001, the government launched the Key Worker Living Programme to help build houses for public sector workers to buy or rent at an affordable price, giving further NHS benefits. More recently, the First Homes program will provide a 30% discount on new homes for key workers which the government expects to announce later on in the year.
In addition to this, there are often several properties available from each housing association that is reserved for key workers and NHS staff.
For those just thinking about starting a career with the NHS, you can also get financial support with your studies. If you are a full-time NHS student, you can get a bursary from the NHS and a possible extra £1,000 grant. If you are eligible for the bursary, the NHS will also pay your tuition fees.
If you are studying and a full-time parent, you may also be eligible for the NHS Bursary Childcare allowance.
There are many benefits to working for the NHS and here at Salad Money, we’re also here to provide you with financial support when you need it along with other key workers.