The NEC were informed by the Director General Phil Copple on 20th December 2021, that due to the infection rate of Omicron and the risk it posed within our Prisons HMPPS had been advised by UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency- formerly Public Health England PHE), that it may be necessary to mandate the testing of all HMPPS employees working in our Prisons for Covid.

Over the last 48 hours the NEC have been consulted by HMPPS about these proposals. HMPPS have now moved to a position whereby all HMPPS employed staff will be required to take 2 LFD tests and 1 PCR test per week prior to commencing duty.

For the avoidance of doubt the NEC are opposed to the mandatory testing of staff and agree that it should be an individual’s choice and responsibility to decide if they test or not. We actively encourage all POA members to take regular Covid tests.

During the consultation the NEC raised various objections and issues, but ultimately, during any consultation the employer may decide to impose their plans despite the objections of recognised unions.
HMPPS can legally mandate staff to take the tests in order to protect the Health and Safety of their employees.

The NEC encourage all members to comply with this temporary initiative that will be reviewed every 2 weeks and is not a permanent condition of reporting for duty. We wish all members to avoid placing themselves at risk of disciplinary action and would encourage all members to comply with this request by HMPPS.

Members are reminded that it is their choice to take the test at work and they cannot be forced to disturb their private life by taking the test at home and sending the results in. We would also remind you that it is good practice to wait in a sterile area, observing social distancing and wearing face masks for a period of at least 20 minutes so you may receive a negative test result prior to proceeding to your area of work. You are also obliged to report to the gate at your official shift start time in order to commence the testing procedure.

If any members have any genuine reasons why they cannot take the tests they should seek the support of their local POA committee and discuss their personal circumstances with their manager.

No member of staff should feel threatened or intimidated to take the tests and staff should be treated with sympathy and respect. If you observe any examples of poor practice, please ensure you bring this to the attention of your local committee who can escalate examples to your area NEC representative to raise nationally.

Enclosed for your information published by HMPPS is:
Mandate Testing Cover Note

Final Policy Covid 19 Mandatory Testing
Please do not hesitate to seek the assistance of your local POA committee or NEC Area Representative if you have any concerns or issues.

Yours Sincerely
General Secretary

Yours Sincerely
National Chair


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.