POA Circulars

123 | 02.10.2012

Unsocial hours allowance & criteria for payment

The POA HR Whitley Sub Committee have been in dialogue with NOMS’ Policy Group to establish the criteria in which staff qualify for payment and those staff who are affected by the new policy.

As you are aware the changes introduced as part of Fair & Sustainable (F&S) include the new 11 Band pay structure and the pay policy that underpins this. The new pay structure will cover all the different NOMS staff groups (prison officers, administrative staff, psychologists, prison Governors etc.) and is based on a basic 37 hour working week with associated pay elements available in addition. These pay elements include payments for additional hours working (e.g. ACH and ACHP) and the 17% unsocial hours working payment. The unsocial hours payment is available for staff working regular unsocial hours as a requirement of their role. The policy criteria for payment is defined in the NOMS pay policy manual (PSI 28/2012).

The POA were fully consulted, along with other unions, on the Pay Manual.

The unsocial hours criteria is based on the policy introduced as part of the Prison Officer 2 pay arrangements, albeit with a reduction in the threshold of the percentage of required unsocial hours working (moving down from a requirement to work around 30% of hours as unsocial to around 20-30%). The reduction in the threshold was made following representations from the POA regarding OSG staff. The definition of the hours defined as unsocial remains the same – i.e. those hours outside of 0700-1900 hours Monday to Friday.

Staff who opt to move into the new pay structures and any new starters joining NOMS, will need to meet the policy criteria in order to receive the 17% payment.

The unsocial hours definition had to take into account the working hours of administrative staff (who are able to work flexible hours between 0700-1900 hours Monday to Friday) and the average unsocial hours worked by operational and other staff groups who currently work shifts.

Unsocial hours are not defined under Bulletin 8 and this makes reference only to the different shift types and times which, as you know, are subject to local arrangements. The concept of red and green hours was introduced in the Work Life Balance policy and referred to in relation to requests from prison officer grades to make a change to their work pattern. The policy defines red hours as those hours outside 0730–1730 hours Monday to Friday with a requirement that prison officer grades changing their work pattern ensure they continue to work at least 35% of their hours as red hours.

The new pay arrangements introduced under F&S do not make changes to Bulletin 8 or replace existing policy. Under the Pay Policy Manual they do, however, introduce new policy which defines the criteria to qualify for the 17% payment for those staff on “the new pay structures”. Staff choosing to retain their existing terms and conditions will remain subject to existing policy arrangements.

It is clear that staff, pre-2009, will not be affected by the criteria for payment of unsocial hours, unless they opt into the new pay structures under F&S.

I trust this clarifies the policy of NOMS in respect of Unsocial Hours and the Criteria for Payment.

Please draw the contents of this circular to all your members.

Yours sincerely


Acting General Secretary