Union support for Prison Service workers

30 March 2020

Prospect is working hard to support its members in the Prison Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has negotiated extraordinary payments to reward staff who demonstrate their commitment to, and recognise the challenge facing the service, by committing to work overtime. The payments also depend on the role staff undertake.

The scheme will apply for 12 weeks, and will be reviewed after that.

The union has also secured a commitment that sessional chaplains will be paid for absences for sickness or self-isolation related to COVID-19.

Prospect and the other unions in the Prison Service have been holding regular teleconferences with the service’s director general.

Prospect negotiator Claire Dent said:

“The exceptional payments are solely in recognition of the unprecedented situation members are having to deal with, and not a payment for relaxing their health and safety rights or terms and conditions.

“Although Prospect is asking members to be reasonable and do what they can to help in these special circumstances, it is entirely their choice,” she added.

Dent also stressed that members are not obliged to undertake different roles.

Unions also secured a commitment from the Prison Service that:

• non-operational staff will not be compelled to carry out any duty outside their job descriptions

• all assistance will be voluntary and only after a risk assessment and a SSOW have been done.

“Members who feel that undertaking certain roles or ways of working would have an adverse effect on them or their families are quite at liberty to not volunteer.

“I hope this offers some reassurance to members and demonstrates the work Prospect is doing on your behalf.”

Sessional chaplains
The unions also asked how sessional chaplains would be paid during sick absence due to COVID-19.

The director general said he recognised the important work sessional chaplains carry out – especially given the current lock down and their invaluable contribution to looking after the most vulnerable in the prison population.

He gave a personal commitment that sessional chaplains will be paid for COVID-19 related absences for sickness or self-isolation.
Dent urged members with any specific query or difficulty to speak to their local rep or contact her at