CIRC 079: NATIONAL CHAIR UPDATE OCTOBER 2023
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all POA members.
FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE (F&S) OPT IN FOR COLLEAGUES ABSENT ON LONG TERM SICK LEAVE
The NEC challenged HMPPS over their reluctance to allow staff absent due to illness the opportunity to opt into F&S pay scales. I am pleased to confirm that HMPPS have agreed the following:
Following representations from trade unions, HMPPS has reconsidered the position of colleagues who are absent from work due to Long Term Sickness (LTS) and their being able to opt into Fair & Sustainable (F&S). As you are aware, we previously required that staff on LTS returned to work before they were given the opportunity to opt in from that date (and they would receive an adjusted lump sum incentive payment to reflect this). However, having given the matter further consideration, HMPPS agrees with the trade unions that it is equitable and fair that staff on LTS are able to opt-in at the same time as everybody else. We will therefore, effective from this year’s (2023) opt in exercise, enable this group of staff to have the same effective opt-in date as their colleagues. This year that date is 1 October 2023. We have asked SSCL to contact eligible LTS colleagues to provide them with an opportunity to opt-in (and receive a fully consolidated and pensionable increase in pay) with effect from 01 October (with pay changes likely to be applied retrospectively in November). The opt in offer, if accepted, will only change the base pay position for LTS staff. Opting in will not change the sick pay entitlement to full pay, half pay or no pay. Colleagues wishing to accept this offer will additionally receive the same discretionary, non-pensionable, lump sum, opt-in incentive payment that is received by other colleagues. This is calculated to be the notional equivalent value of arrears for the period 1 April 2023 – 30 September 2023. This change of position, which will continue to apply for opt-in exercises in future years and will mean that staff who are on LTS will be treated consistently with others in terms of their effective opt-in date and associated benefits.
Efficiency compensation payments
It has once again been brought to the attention of the NEC that, despite several clear and unambiguous communications clarifying the authority of Governing Governors to award 100% compensation during an inefficiency process, members are still being subject to being informed they are only being awarded a maximum of 75% and must appeal for the additional 25. We are aware that some members are being awarded 100% only for a decision maker in the Directorate to then reduce this payment to 75%. This is also wrong and breaches Civil Service Pension Scheme Rules.
If any member or committee is aware of this practice, they should immediately contact their NEC Representative for support. If this stance from the employer does not change, we may have to seek a legal remedy.
Members should be aware of the following communication from the Directorate to Governors that you may wish to quote during an appeal process:
We are now aware of 2 recent cases that went to CSAB where the ex-employee appealed the decision to award 75% compensation as a result of the IHR point. The CSAB found in the appellant’s favour in both cases as the Board did not agree with the Department’s reasoning for restricting the level of award to 75%, based on a failure to apply for IHR. As a result of the CSAB interpretation of the current EPN we believe there is a significant risk that the department will continue to lose cases if we apply our current interpretation of the compensation guidance note.
Therefore, with immediate effect, Decision Managers should not apply the policy note sent out in the Senior Leaders Bulletin in October 2022 and instead Decision Managers must now refer to the Efficiency Compensation Process Note dated 3 April 2023 and the guidance referred within it when making a determination on the level of compensation to award at a FARM held in line with PSI/PI 01/2017 – Management of Attendance.
Prison officers: apply to move prisons (pilot scheme)
HMPPS have announced the following:
POA members in the Scottish Prison Service have been offered a two year pay deal that takes them through to April 2025. The offer will be put to a workplace ballot which opened on Monday 23rd October 2023. Due to POA Scotland Annual Conference taking place in the middle of the ballot period, the ballot period will run through until 12pm on Tuesday 7th November 2023.
Main elements of the offer include:
- The pay award is spread over a 2-year period, staged over 4 separate payment dates. For most members the total value is 10% over that period.
- The deal is front loaded, so that the biggest % (7%) comes within the first year.
- This element of the offer is a ‘no strings’ offer that does not require us to find efficiency savings or to cut jobs. It also continues to include a no compulsory redundancy guarantee.
- For those members in the progression stages of the pay structure the pay growth values range from 60% to 16.62% in year 1, and from 4.92% to 13.02% in year 2.
- If accepted, this deal takes the top basic salary for an Operations officer (C band) to £32,200.
- A residential prison officer (D band) to £40,850.
- A FLM salary (E band) becomes £46,935.
- The offer sees increases to the ex-gratia rates that move them to time and a half on weekdays, and double time on weekends.
- An increase in the Dirty campaign allowance from £2 an hour, doubling to £4 an hour.
Opt in Exercise
4244 out of 4661 closed grade staff could gain by opting into F&S (91%), and 3413 have opted into F&S. This represents 80% of those who could gain by opting into F&S and 73% of the closed grades overall.
The NEC have commissioned their own survey that we now encourage all POA members to complete. It can be accessed in the comfort of your own home or on a smart phone. It will take about 20 minutes to complete and we wish you to be as honest as possible. The results from the survey will be used as evidence to the Pay Review Body during the next round of pay submissions. At this time the survey is only open to serving members who work in public sector prisons in England and Wales. There will be future surveys for all other members in other jurisdictions in the near future.
PLEASE DO NOT COMPLETE THE ANNUAL HMPPS PEOPLE SURVEY.
PLEASE COMPLETE THE POA MEMBERS SURVEY ON THE FOLLOWING LINK
The survey will run until Monday 30th October 2023.
Retired Veterans Award Badge
The NEC has received correspondence from a retired member asking POA members to support a petition asking the Government to issue a veteran’s badge for ex prison staff. The idea is to have a veteran’s badge like the military do. The petition can be signed via the following link:
HMPPS have informed the POA that they intend to roll out Nasal Naloxone in prisons and will seek ‘volunteers’ to carry it. The NEC are opposed to these proposals due to the fact that staff will need to be trained in an additional skill but will receive no renumeration for supplying the business with what they see as an essential need. It is our view that only fully qualified clinical staff should administer any type of medication to prisoners.
All POA members are encouraged to consider if they wish to volunteer for an additional task, which carries career threatening risks, for no additional reward.
If POA members continue to volunteer for a multitude of tasks that attract zero renumeration the less likely it is that the NEC could convince the Pay Review Body to include an additional payment for additional skills.
All POA members should note that a volunteer cannot be forced.
All the best.