POA Circulars

90 | 01.08.2014


As notified within POA Circular 87/2014, representatives of the POA National Executive Committee have embarked upon a set of negotiations on a without prejudice basis with NOMS. The first of these meetings took place on the 28th and 29th of July and a number of key issues were discussed.

The objectives of these meetings were to progress issues that may potentially change existing policies affecting prison regimes, profiles, the core day and the working conditions of the membership.

Due to the restrictions on providing full disclosure to our members during “without prejudice” discussions, the National Executive Committee are unable to give full details at this time, but the following is an overview of discussions to date.


Core Day

It is clear that the existing Benchmark process and policies have not been rigorously tested or subject to necessary review due to the chronic staffing and overcrowding crisis.
The POA have proposed alternatives to the present core day and NOMS have committed to exploring the practicalities of these proposals.

The work in respect of the core day now needs to be examined through desk top exercises in order to ensure that it can be delivered across the prison estate where change may be necessary and that change has been requested by the POA and/or Management. The NEC will engage with BDG throughout these desk top exercises.

Further information on this piece of work will be sent out in due course.


PSO 8525 Disputes Procedure

The disputes procedure has been in place since 2008 and whilst it has worked reasonably well it is in clear need of a review. It is anticipated that the disputes procedure will form part of the bigger picture under partnership working but on an interim basis the PSO will be reviewed to provide more robust mandatory actions and appropriate engagement at all levels.


Annual Leave

It has been brought to the attention of the executive that the policies on annual leave are not sufficient to provide the day to day entitlements of staff within the operational needs of the service. The cancellation of pre-booked and approved annual leave is unacceptable.

At the meeting it was agreed and actioned that Ian Mulholland would liaise with all DDC’s to establish if this was a recurring problem or a misunderstanding at local level.

The working group will also develop a process for management to adhere to the provisions of Bulletin 8 and a requirement for all prisons to have achievable and realistic MSL’s.


Healthcare Officers and TUPE

Whilst the number of Healthcare Officers across the prison estate is small the executive recognise that this group of members are non- rotational and therefore at risk of TUPE.
At the working group it was agreed that each member would be contacted and advised of the options which are available to them to progress their career, setting out the terms of transition, pay protection and role and risk of transfer to a private provider if the service is contracted out. This is a major success for the union and those affected members, considering the strictures of the TUPE legislation.


F&S and Benchmarking pay structures

It is clear that NOMS Pay and Reward have a model to deliver long term savings and to introduce a pay structure which brings parity to operational and non-operational staff, with the exception of unsocial hours.

It is also clear that Benchmarking has an operating model based on profiles and shift patterns averaging 39 hours. To this end the POA raised the existing anomalies with the Prison Service Pay Review Body in previous submissions. The working group have set out our concerns with this anomaly and are working through this to seek parity for all operational staff of an average 39 hour working week. This work will be progressed through all avenues by the executive.


Conference Motions

The 2014 conference motions are being considered and progressed through the working group and reports will be promulgated in due course.


Transitional Arrangements for Specialist Staff

This is another key area of work that requires clear guidelines for those affected members to ensure they receive all the information in respect of pay, allowances, protection and timelines to transfer before making any decision. There has been some considerable movement on this to date and further information will be provided once discussions have been concluded.

These discussions on a without prejudice basis are ongoing and future meetings will take place. Further to the issues raised above, the following matters will also be considered during these talks;

  • PSI 64/11 Management of Prisoners at risk of Self harm.
  • Draft Protocol for addressing OASys Reports and use of all Agency Workers.
  • Memorandum of Understanding June 2013.
  • Application of Fresh Start.
  • Wider workforce reform and Pay.

This list is not exhaustive and should not be viewed as a comprehensive agenda. The Executive will endeavour to keep POA members informed of developments from future meetings. Moreover, whilst the National Executive Committee will seek agreements to bring about change, it will be the membership of this union that will have the final decision.
Please draw the contents of this circular to your member’s attention.

Thanking you in anticipation of your support and cooperation.

Yours sincerely


National Chairman 


General Secretary