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POA Conference 2022 Prison and probation workers ‘unfairly exploited’ by unsociable hours, delegates hear

MANY prison and probation workers are being “unfairly exploited” by bosses who are forcing them to work too many unsociable hours, Prison Officers’ Association (POA) members warned today.

About 95 per cent of delegates gathered in Eastbourne for the union’s 2022 conference backed a motion which called on the union’s national executive to push HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) to act.

Defining a strict upper limit on hours worked during evening, night and weekend shifts is needed due to the “detrimental effects and concerns over members’ health and safety,” the motion demanded.

Member John Threlfall said that guidelines suggesting some staff work between 20 and 30 per cent of their hours at unsociable times vary across the country and are often breached, with some officers having to spend about 70 per cent of their time at work in “red hours.”

The Lancaster Farms delegate warned of significant impacts on workers’ health, including “sleep and food disorders, high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack due to the disruption caused to the body’s internal clock.”

Backing the motion, Terry McCarthy from the union’s executive council said: “The impact of working excessive unsociable hours is obvious – it must have an impact on your mental health and your health and safety.

“Let’s take this [motion] to HMPPS and let’s get another limit defined. They won’t like it, but that’s not our concern.

“Our concern is the health and safety of our members.”

The POA represents prison, correctional and psychiatric workers in both the public and private sectors. 

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