POA News

8 | 17.01.2018

PRISON OFFICER 2íS

In April 2009, NOMS and Government closed off the prison grade as part of the austerity measures and efficiency savings.

Following that decision, NOMS employed PO2’s on different contracts to Prison Officers in closed grades. These original contracts and subsequent contracts implied that these staff were to be paid 37-hour base pay, but on a 42-hour week including meal breaks.

At the time the NEC sought clarity on a number of issues appertaining to this grade including hours of work and pay.

In 2012 with the introduction of Fair and Sustainable (F&S), the PO2 Grade was closed off and members given the choice to opt into F&S or remain on closed grade Terms and Conditions.

The NEC were made aware of a local arrangement in respect of PO2’s, but no successful legal challenge was put forward over whether this grade had been underpaid or others badly advised when opting into F&S.

As usual, social media and rumours around this issue again raised members concerns. The NEC has sent out a number of Circulars to date on this matter.

The NEC collated a number of claims to cover all possible aspects of any legal claim. These were submitted to our solicitors and advice provided to members in accordance with the provisions of the unions Legal Advice Scheme. Simultaneously, the Executive wrote to HMPPS to seek an internal resolution.

HMPPS took several months to consider the Unions position, but eventually refused our offer stating Bulletin 8 was clear, PO2’s were correctly paid for hours worked and those staff opting into F&S had not been miss-advised. They also stated that they would consider individual Grievances and claims for unpaid hours on a case by case basis.

To date, individuals who have received legal advice have not exercised their right of appeal to the Legal Aid Committee and or NEC. Therefore, any possible legal challenge cannot be progressed. For the avoidance of doubt, please do not interpret this statement it is simply a matter of fact.

The NEC are aware that a number of Grievances have been heard by HMPPS on this matter, but as far as we are aware none have been upheld.

The NEC have always maintained that if PO2’s worked more than the 37 hours, these hours must have been repaid by way of TOIL or payment at the appropriate rate at the time of undertaking these hours.

If any member believes they worked more than the 37 hours base pay, they should seek recovery of those hours sitting out times and dates. If the employer refuses to repay the hours a Grievance must be raised and legal advice sought by completing the form from the Legal Advice Handbook and sending this to Cronin House with supporting documents.

If members have not worked more than the 37 hours, but feel they should have been paid 42 hours, they should raise a Grievance.

Please draw this Circular to the attention of all affected members.

Thanking you in anticipation of your co-operation

Yours sincerely

STEVE GILLAN

General Secretary