Prospect updates advice for Prison Service workers

31 March 2020

Prospect has drawn up advice for Prison Service workers on what constitutes reasonable temporary alternate work roles.

All Prison Service establishments are operating a restricted regime which has resulted in changes to business as usual.

Normal day-to-day jobs are ceasing for some members. Examples include chaplains who can no longer run worship or classes; staff involved in delivering programmes or who provide one-to-one psychology sessions.

Many members have contacted Prospect about what constitutes reasonable work. Although the union cannot provide a definitive list, general advice includes:

  • Ensure the task is appropriate to your band, ie if you are a Band 4 or 5, you should not be asked to carry out Band 7 or 8 work, unless on appropriate temporary promotion.
  • Ensure that all Safe Systems of Work (SSoW) are adhered to and are available to you in the proposed alternate role. For example, being asked to be on a wing with prisoners unlocked and only one officer on the wing would not be in line with SSoW.
  • If you are in a non-prisoner facing role, you may be asked to carry out prisoner facing tasks. It would not be reasonable to expect this; but if you are happy to volunteer, ask for appropriate training.
  • Training should be provided if you are happy to take on tasks you have not previously done. There are some tasks that you must be trained for so always ask if you need to be trained to do the task. If you haven’t received the training, ask your line manager if you should be doing the task.
  • Do not carry out operational tasks that would usually be done by an officer or higher operational grades. This requires specific certification that non-operational staff do not have.

Prospect negotiator Claire Dent said: “As civil servants, it is reasonable to step forward to support establishments or other parts of government to run day-to-day. We would ask members to be helpful and flexible.

“This is an unprecedented situation and we must all continue to come to work, or complete assigned work in a safe way, if we are healthy and able to do so.

“If you are unsure about a task, you must speak to your line manager, or another manager if they are not available,” Dent added.

She urged members to share this update with colleagues who are not currently in Prospect

“Only by belonging to a trade union can you ensure that your concerns are raised with the senior management and hopefully addressed in a timely manner, Dent concluded.