POA Circulars

127 | 27.08.2020

NATIONAL CHAIR UPDATE AUGUST 2020 STAFF RETURNING FROM SHIELDING

 

New Guidance has been published which is available on the Intranet. The document is entitled: Guidance for the Support and Management of those Staff who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, those Living with the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and the Clinically Vulnerable.

 

All staff who are returning from shielding should be made aware of the following:

Before any decision about returning to work can be made, managers must talk to the employee. The conversation may be face to face or if that is not possible by telephone or video call. The conversation will include providing advice about what has changed in the workplace, the controls that have been put in place to ensure it remains Covid Secure and any Safer Operating Procedures (SOPs) that may be in place for certain tasks and processes. There must be an opportunity during the risk assessment to explore and agree what adjustments will need to be made if a decision is taken to support their return to the workplace.

POA members are reminded that a local representative can offer support and attend any meeting with line managers so a personal Risk Assessment may be agreed. Any disagreements can be escalated to the regional Health and Safety Lead. No shielding member of staff should return to the workplace without an agreed Covid Risk Assessment in place .Where managers and staff in the Clinically extremely vulnerable category are considering a return to work, they should only be offered the option of the safest available on site roles, enabling them to social distance from others.

If staff had pre booked block leave during their shielding period, there is an expectation that this leave is taken. It is entirely up to local Governors if they allowed staff to cancel leave during the shielding period and rebook it at a later date.

All staff can carry over a maximum of 20 days annual leave which must be taken over the next two leave years.


EXCEPTIONAL DELIVERY MODELS (EDMS)
As regimes continue to ease many prisons are preparing themselves to progress from a level 3 Covid regime to level 2. The Exceptional Delivery Models (EDMs) that govern level 3 regimes will form the framework to progress to level 2 regimes. There is no requirement to formulate another raft of EDMs specifically for level 2 when changes can be incorporated in existing frameworks. Further guidance on stage 2 EDMs are in the final stages and will be published by HMPPS once approved.

This means that local committees, in dialogue with their SMTs will agree how to safely progress regimes and further ease restrictions. All committees must be afforded adequate facility time to engage in this process and should ensure they access significantly more facility time than pre Covid levels. No committees should feel they are not being detailed adequate time to engage. If there are issues surrounding facility time, please contact your area NEC rep.

I will reiterate that a return to pre Covid regimes is not acceptable. We must continue to unlock smaller numbers of prisoners and ensure when unlocked they are accessing purposeful and constructive regimes. Association is not a requirement of any regime at this time.

You should note also that many prisons have scrapped the evening duty element of regimes, preferring to remain in patrol state after the evening meal so the hours can be redirected to a safer, more stable and productive core day that ensures larger staffing numbers to facilitate prisoner unlock.


RESOURCING REGIMES
Any prisons that are struggling to resource a progression of regimes due to inadequate staffing levels should ask their Governors to submit a business case to the Operational Stability Panel so an Enhanced PP Bonus scheme (EPP)can be considered.
The EPP is designed to cater for the following:
I. To support a prison with shortfalls that cannot be supported by PP locally.
II. To support a prison with shortfalls that cannot be supported from within group, including funding for additional local PP or the redistribution of group bonus scheme hours.
III. To enable the release of staff for short term redeployment within daily travelling distance, to meet a local shortfall. The EPP bonus scheme can be used to backfill the hours created by supplying staff for short term redeployment. This should only be used where the alternative would produce a demand for National Detached Duty (NDD).

IV. To support a prison that cannot fully support its shortfalls by PP or local short-term redeployment and can be used at a receiving prison-accessible to both home staff and those attending on short term redeployment.

If you do not have adequate resources to progress regimes, then the regime cannot progress.


COMMAND MODE AND DISPUTES
The NEC have been made aware of instances where local Governors have instructed committees that no disputes will be accepted during command mode due to Covid-19, in an attempt to force through Management Proposed Changes without correct procedures being adhered to.

This is totally inaccurate.

Although the position remains that disputes during Covid should be avoided whenever possible, instances where Governors attempt to change RRMP or working practices without agreement of the local POA committee can still be disputed with the status quo remaining. PSO 8525 should be referenced if any committees need to challenge decisions from Governors that they have not agreed. NEC Reps should be informed and invited to engage so a resolution may be sought.


PAY RISE
The 2.5% pay rise will be backdated to April 1st and paid in Septembers salary. The NEC have made an Executive decision to engage with the Pay Review Body and will submit evidence for the 2021/22 pay submissions. Conference will direct the Executive if they wish this practice to continue or not.


OMiC IN THE OPEN AND FEMALE ESTATE
HMPPS are preparing to implement their OMiC models in the open and female estate but as yet no firm date has been set for the implementation. Talks with the POA will progress in order to secure protections for Band 4 staff who will be affected by the new OMiC models. NEC Area Representatives have communicated with local POA committees in these estates to secure evidence that Band 4 work exists and can be accommodated. It is the opinion of HMPPS that there will be no Band 4 operational work in these estates and the option of Band 5 promotion or a non op OMU post applies.

It is vital that local committees provide their NEC Rep with the evidence that proves Band 4 work exists.

At the moment the status quo exists, and we will continue to engage with HMPPS in order to secure protections for Band 4 staff. We will continue to oppose HMPPS proposals that Band 4 staff who do not accept promotion or a non op role must be compulsory transferred.


PENSIONS
The POA are involved in a consultation exercise with the Government to consider their proposals on future pension provision arising from our successful Employment Tribunal Claim challenging the changes to pensions in 2015.


The full set of proposals can be accessed via this link:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/public-service-pension-schemes-consultation-changes-to-the-transitional-arrangements-to-the-2015-schemes

Any member who wishes to reply to the proposals may do so as an individual as suggested in the document.

We will continue to engage with the Government and update you on a regular basis. Conference policy dictates that we pursue a retirement age of 60. We will continue to press for all staff at the frontline in our secure services, wherever they work, be afforded the option to retire with dignity aged 60 without any detriment to their accrued pension.


BRANCH VISITS AND VIRTUAL MEETINGS
I have visited several branches over the past few weeks and would like to pay my respects to each and every one of you for the way you have performed your duties over the past 5 months. During my visits it is obvious that regimes are less violent, more stable and offer staff the opportunity to forge positive relationships with prisoners.

It is important that we do not waste this opportunity to make our prisons safe.

If you arrange a branch meeting, I would welcome an invite so I may pass on my thanks in person. If any member wishes to address me, please inform your POA committee to contact me so I may arrange a Zoom meeting. I am more than happy to engage with committees and members in any format they wish.

Once again, my sincerest thanks for all the hard work you continue to perform. You are a credit to the POA.

In solidarity.

MARK FAIRHURST
National Chair