Guide to Operative Grading
The purpose of grading is to ensure that plumbers, domestic heating fitters and mechanical pipefitters are suitably recognised for the trade skills and qualifications they possess.
The responsibility for operative grading rests with the JIB UK Plumbing, Heating & Mechanical Engineering Services Registration Scheme (UK-PHMES). This is a nationwide scheme meaning that Grading in England & Wales is harmonised with Grading in Scotland & Northern Ireland.
Grading is an addition to the UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES CSCS Registration Card scheme.
Registration cards are based only on an operative’s qualifications. The UK-PHMES Advanced and Technician grades are awarded on the basis of skill and experience as well as qualifications. They are recognised and supported by JIB-PMES participant employers to determine rates of pay, allowances and benefits.
Basic Grade: Plumber, Domestic Heating Fitter, Mechanical Pipe Fitter.
- All holders of Blue or Gold UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES CSCS Registration Cards are automatically given the basic grade as a trained plumber, Domestic Heating Fitter or Mechanical Pipe Fitter
Advanced Grade: Plumber, Domestic Heating Fitter, Mechanical Pipe Fitter.
- Must have at least two years’ experience working as a plumber, domestic heating fitter or mechanical pipefitter.
- Must possess particular and productive skills and be able to work without supervision in the most efficient and economical manner.
- Must be able to set out jobs from working drawings and specifications and requisition the necessary installation materials and have technical and supervisory knowledge beyond that expected of a plumber, domestic heating fitter or mechanical pipefitter.
Technician Grade: Plumber, Domestic Heating Fitter, Mechanical Pipe Fitter.
- Must have obtained appropriate academic qualifications or other such qualifications as are acceptable to UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES.
- Must have superior technical skill, ability and experience beyond that expected of an Advanced Plumber, Domestic Heating Fitter or Mechanical Pipefitter.
- Must be able to lay out and prepare contract work in accordance with Building Regulations and Water Regulations/Bye-Laws.
- Must be able to take off quantities and measure work.
- Must be able to assess labour requirements and control/supervise all manner of plumbing or other relevant installations in the most economic and effective way while achieving a high level of productivity.
Relationship between UK-PHMES Registration and Grading
JIB UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES CSCS Registration cards are a national standard recognised throughout the industry.
CSCS rules stipulate that the colour of the Registration Card issued to operatives is based solely on their qualifications.
If an applicant has achieved NVQ/SVQ Level 2 the card colour can only be BLUE. If an applicant has achieved NVQ/SVQ Level 3 the card colour can only be GOLD.
UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES Grades are recognised primarily by JIB-PMES participant employers to determine pay, allowances and other benefits.
Grading is an addition to UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES CSCS registration and is based on experience as well as qualifications. Holders of Plumber Blue and Gold cards (i.e. those who have NVQ L2 or Plumbing Craft qualifications) are automatically given the basic Plumber grade. They can be upgraded to the Advanced or Technician Plumber grades depending on the skills they are able to demonstrate and their work experience. This also applies to Heating Fitters, Mechanical Pipe Fitters and Gas Fitters.
Note: Holders of the gold PMES Supervisor card and PMES Related Occupation cards are excluded.
The award of a grade does not change the colour of a UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES CSCS registration card. An operative who has achieved NVQ/SVQ Level 2 may be awarded an Advanced or Technician grade as a result of experience in the industry, but will still carry a blue registration card.
There is no need to apply for ‘Initial Grading’ as all cardholders are automatically graded as ‘trained operatives’ when they receive an initial blue or gold JIB-PMES CSCS registration card.
With a Plumbing Level 2 NVQ or equivalent qualification (e.g. Heating Fitter), you will be given the basic grade of Plumber, Heating Fitter etc. assuming you fulfil the grading requirements. The grading requirements for basic Plumber, Heating Fitter, Mechanical Pipe Fitter and Gas Fitter are as follows.
Applicants must have obtained one of the following:
- Appropriate Level 2 NVQ Diploma
- National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) – MES Plumbing Level 2 or equivalent
- Equivalent City & Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) Craft Certificate
- Such other qualifications as are acceptable to the Board.
- Entry by way of a recognised and registered form of training (usually a 4 year term as a JIB registered apprentice) or other accepted method of entry into the Industry.
- Must have undergone a minimum of 3½ years training experience in the Plumbing Industry
- Must be able to carry out all such installation and maintenance work to the recognised standard and level of productivity expected from an operative working under minimum supervision.
You are employed by a JIB Participant Employer your graded status is important as it determines your hourly rates of pay and allowances.
With a Level 2 NVQ or equivalent qualification your grade will be the basic grade of Plumber, Heating Fitter, Mechanical Pipe fitter or Gas Fitter. However, you may feel that although you only have a Level 2 NVQ, your experience in the Plumbing Industry should entitle you to a higher Advanced or Technician Grade.
You may apply for a specific upgrade at any time, or at the same time as you apply for a registration card. You must be able to meet all the requirements for the new grade. Click here to download the upgrading form (including Advanced and Technician grading criteria.)
Upgrading an Apprentice/Trainee Red card to a Blue or Gold card
An apprentice or trainee who completes their training and becomes qualified is entitled to upgrade to a blue card (Level 2 NVQ Diploma/NVQ Level 2) or a gold card (Level 3 NVQ Diploma/NVQ Level 3).
We need a completed application form for the appropriate blue or gold card, photocopies of your NVQ Diploma/NVQ certificates, and a new passport-sized photograph.
The NVQ Diploma/NVQ certificate will provide exemption from taking the CITB CSCS Health, Safety and Environment test for a period of two years from the date on the certificate, after which time the test would have to be taken and the card renewed.
For employees of a JIB Participant company the new card is free of charge. For all other applicants, the cost of the new registration SmartCard is £40.00
Grading is free if your employer is purchasing JIB-PMES Holiday Credits or Welfare Benefits on your behalf. For all other applicants grading costs £25.00 plus £40.00 for a new JIB UK-PHMES SmartCard, if one is required to reflect the change of grade.
Grading fees are separate and additional to any other UK-PHMES/JIB-PMES CSCS registration fees that may be applicable.