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It would appear that HMPPS, Governors, Senior Management Teams and Shared Services are failing to recognise the rules which must be applied when our members are injured or assaulted at work.
It is clear that the workplace is more violent and, as a consequence, members are facing life changing and career ending injuries as a result of assaults in and out of the workplace. It is only reasonable to expect that the employer would do everything to assist their employee in these situations. Unfortunately, all too often this isn’t the case as members face financial hardship, un-necessary stress and anxiety due to maladministration of the rules. The employer also refuses to accept liability often leaving the member disadvantaged and reliant on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
It has also come to the attention of the NEC that our members are being told after an assault and indeed sexual assaults in the workplace by prisoners that they can only apply for sick leave excusal once they return from sick absence which in many cases means the individuals are going onto half pay. This is totally unacceptable and not within the rules. Branch Officials on behalf of their members must challenge this poor practise. The NEC have continually raised this issue at National Level and are continually assured that sick leave excusal for assaults in the workplace should be given automatically at the time of the assault and not when the individual comes back off sick absence.
The level of injuries sustained at work are consistent and all too often these are classed as non-fault accidents by the employer leaving members fighting for justice. This is despite the shortages of staff, poor risk management and lack of investment and maintenance.
The provision of pay and administration of the Civil Service Management Code is clear, and I have set out the relevant sections for reference.
9.6 Absence due to Injury, Disease or Assault at Work
9.6.1 Departments and agencies must operate the following rules and procedures where absence is due to:
Injury or disease / Absence
9.6.2 If a member of staff is absent due to an injury sustained or a disease contracted in circumstances that satisfy the qualifying conditions for injury benefit under the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, departments and agencies must:
– for an increase in disability benefit or disability pension during approved hospital treatment;
Assault / Absence
9.6.5 Any sick absence due to an assault in the course of duty, or when not on duty but clearly connected with duty, must not reckon towards the maximum period of sick absence allowed under a department’s or agency’s sick absence schemes.
9.6.6 Where an absence is due to such an assault, and no claim for damages is made, staff must:
In simple terms, where a member is absent due an injury, disease or assault at work, they should immediately apply for;
Sick Leave Excusal
This will prevent triggers being breached as per the Sickness Absence Policy
Temporary Injury Benefit Award
This will prevent members going on reduced pay as per their Terms and Conditions
The rules will not guarantee fair and just compensation or that members will be successful with compensation claims. However, if we force the employer to follow the rules it will assist members in their recovery because their pay will be correct, and the current levels of stress and anxiety faced by many will be reduced.
Please bring this Circular to the attention of your members.
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.