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Please ensure all POA members have access to this update.
The Government have finally announced the pay award for bands 2-5 and 7-11 for 2021. Any monies owed will be paid into November’s salary and will be backdated from April. The headline award is:
All those identified by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service as being eligible should receive the Government’s £250 pay uplift, or an award to remain compliant with the National Living Wage from 1 April 2021
We recommend that all staff (except those subject to formal poor performance procedures) on Fair and Sustainable Bands 3 to 5 who are in post on 31 March 2021 progress by one pay point, effective from 1 April 2021.
Closed grade staff and experienced staff on F&S who earn above £24k per year and enjoy pay maxima have been overlooked.
Many members have questioned why Bands 7-11 have been awarded a 4% pay increase. After challenging the Pay Review Body about this I enclose their response:
Mark’s point on 4% progression for operational managers, and why it was 4%. We explained that it was difficult for the PSPRB to recommend a lower amount than HMPPS had proposed. However, HMPPS has always maintained to the Review Body that it has the desire for managers to progress from the band minima to the band maxima in around 5 years, a similar timeframe it takes for Bands 3 to 5 to progress from the minima to maxima. But where officer grades have the five set pay points,
managers have open pay ranges which are around 20% from minima to maxima. Therefore, each year the Review Body has to set the rate of progression up the pay range, which in order to achieve the 5-year timeframe it works out around 4% progression.
I share your disgust, anger, and frustration at this derisory award. The pay review body have been legally prevented by the Government recommending any award above the Government restrictions on public sector pay. The NEC will scrutinise the details of this award and consider all options available to us. My message to members can be viewed here.
Guidance regarding self- isolation exemptions
HMPPS have issued the following guidance:
Since 7th August 2021 in Wales and 16th August 2021 in England those who are fully vaccinated can return to work without isolating after being alerted by NHS Test and Trace as being a contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Additionally, in England, prisons, and some Approved Premises (APs) can set up Daily Contact Testing (DCT) sites. Staff who receive an alert to self-isolate can continue attending work if they are asymptomatic and produce a negative Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test each day (regardless of vaccination status). Both these changes to self-isolation requirements have been supported and endorsed by Public Health England/Wales (PHE)/W. The expectation is now that most people who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace will return to their workplaces if they cannot work from home. If staff choose to continue to self-isolate when they are not required to do so, they are unlikely to be granted special leave with pay.
As part of this process, staff will also be requested to provide confirmation of their self-isolation status i.e., a letter from NHS Test and Trace or copy of text / email confirming they have been notified of a close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
National Vetting Renewal Programme for Staff
We have been informed by HMPPS that they will shortly be conducting a rolling programme of re vetting staff. It is essential that any member of staff who has failed to declare any Police caution or conviction should do so immediately. Details are outlined below:
Since 2008, staff who have remained in the same prison location and have not required higher vetting for a different role, will not have been re-vetted. This means some staff have not been rechecked since their initial employment, which may have been years before. Whilst this approach complies with the mandated Cabinet Office Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) as it was then, it has no renewal built in and has always been insufficient for our purposes. As HMPPS fall under the Exceptions Order of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (as amended) we have always worked to a higher standard and undertaken criminal records checks on spent as well as unspent criminal records. We do not however have a 10-year renewal cycle integrated into the system, despite this being commissioned many years ago.
Proposed new Grievance Procedure
HMPPS have started a consultation period covering a new grievance procedure that will align operational staff with MOJ policy. The NEC are currently considering the proposal.
The POA solicitors Thompsons have produced a mobile app that can be downloaded to your smart phone. This will enable members to access their personal injury claims so they may keep updated with its progression. Members will shortly be able to access their criminal and employment tribunal claims via this app.
Although the situation in our secure hospitals continues to improve there are still sporadic outbreaks of Covid amongst staff and patients. The main concerns surround the number of staff absent due to long Covid. Staff are still mandated to wear face masks in the workplace. A workplace ballot of all NHS union members including the POA indicated a rejection of the 3% pay rise. It is likely there will now be a ballot for industrial action within all NHS settings.
The POA test case in relation to the refusal of the Government to put in place the remedy after our successful legal challenge will be heard on January 18th. This case surrounds the refusal to allow members who are retired to access their legacy pensions immediately.
Stage 1 regime progression
Local committees should be aware that the following mandate that has been forwarded to all Governors prior to regime progression:
HMP Five Wells
The POA have signed a recognition agreement with G4S that confirms the POA as the recognised trade union with collective bargaining rights. We will also agree a disputes resolution procedure that includes binding arbitration.
As Covid continues to cause concerns it is essential that committees agree regime expansions based upon risk. If it is unsafe to unlock unmanageable numbers of prisoners or provide activities without adequate staff to supervise then staff must ensure they work safely and involve their POA representatives if working practices that they feel are unsafe are forced upon them.
The NEC remain available for all members should they need support.
All the best.
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.