The RCN has backed NHS Employers' proposals to make changes to national NHS pay and conditions framework AfC, meaning nurses could lose the right to receive automatic incremental pay rises and enhanced out-of-hours sick pay.
The RCN said 53 per cent of its members who voted on the changes, opted to accept the proposals.
Trade unions agreed to consult on the plans, which, if endorsed, will come into effect from 31 March. These include changes to incremental pay progression which would have to be 'earned', sickness absence paid at basic level during unsocial hours and removal of accelerated pay progression for new entrants to band five.
Kath McCourt, chair of RCN Council said: 'While it is our position to support these changes, no action will be taken until the NHS Staff Side Council meeting takes place [in February]. We will now work with our colleagues in our sister unions on the next steps in this process.'
While the proposals have been accepted by the RCN, no action will be taken until the responses from the other unions are known and the NHS Staff Council meets at the end of February.
Advanced nurse practitioner (ANP Jenny Aston, chair of the RCN's ANP Forum, said: 'AfC is becoming less relevant. It is a benchmark that often employers in primary care ignore and it doesn't have the clout it used to have.'
But she acknowledged RCN members' decision to back the proposals could be an attempt to avoid imposition of regional pay, which threatens to replace AfC.
She added: 'It's realistic to have some guidance on pay.'
Unite has come out against the proposals; Unison's consultation with members was on-going as Independent Nurse went to press.