CIRC 029: REVISED GUIDANCE FOR COVID RELATED ABSENCES

Enclosed for your information is the latest guidance from HMPPS that clarifies the procedures to be taken when dealing with staff absences due to Covid 19 and the effects of Long Covid.

In a recent letter from Phil Copple to all Governors he reiterated the following:

“A new document has been produced to help support attendance in the workplace with a focus on those employee’s affected for longer than the norm by the virus.  Managers are now required to record Covid related sickness absence on SOP when the absence extends beyond 10 days. The supporting attendance guidance gives a clear message that managers should continue to manage all cases individually, being mindful of protected characteristics and their obligations under the Equality Act 2010, tailoring actions accordingly. 

In some cases, our embedded attendance systems may trigger attendance warnings and in some cases sick pay limits may be reached. Our policies allow for discretion and it is expected that managers will use that discretion in cases that are affected due to the longer term impact of Covid, for example it may be appropriate to extend sick pay to maintain an appropriate rate of pay for those facing financial detriment.  It is also important to be mindful of any unintended consequences of managing attendance that may result in someone returning to the workplace when they should remain off sick or self-isolating in line with Government guidelines.

Managers should also be mindful of where Covid has impacted on other health conditions for example where treatment has been postponed or due to underlying medical conditions that have developed as a direct result of Covid and use appropriate discretion in managing these cases. It is expected that all cases will be considered on their own individual medical circumstances and we encourage managers to discuss appropriate reasonable adjustments and phased returns to work, where appropriate.”

The guidance goes live on April 12th. Any issues that cannot be resolved locally should be escalated to Area NEC representatives.

Members should note that the POA have been consulted on these changes but do not agree with the guidance or what we see as a draconian and unsympathetic approach to Covid absences and its long-term effects.

Please ensure all POA members are made aware of this new guidance (Attached). 

For and on behalf of the NEC.

 

Mark Fairhurst
National Chair

Attachments

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.