As you will know, the POA are taking action TODAY.
Some concerns have been expressed by PCS members as to what the position is regarding their safety in these circumstances.
The Prison Service has a duty of care to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees. This is enshrined in all health and safety legislation. The Prison Service will have made contingency plans to deal with the industrial action. Members, however, must be satisfied the arrangements will ensure their safety.
Under these circumstances, Part V of the Employment Rights Act 1996 entitled “Protection form Suffering Detriment in Employment” offers additional legal protection. Paragraph 44(1) reads:
“An employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or deliberate failure to act, by his employer done on the ground that-
(d) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably been expected to avert, he left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to his place of work or any dangerous part of his place of work ,or
(e) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent, he took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect himself or other persons from the danger.”
In other words, if you feel in danger you have a right to leave work (or go to a safe place) and stay out whilst the danger persisted without being disciplined. This would not count as industrial action, breach of contract and you should be treated as if you had attended work (ie be paid and not have to take the time off as any kind of leave). Paragraph (e) gives an additional right to other members of staff to induce or persuade you to leave the work.
PCS recommends that on the day(s) of action, you should report for work by turning up and giving your name in at the Gate. You should then make a risk assessment as to the safety of your workplace taking into account the contingency plans established by your management. If you are not satisfied that you will not be in danger – as outlined in paragraphs d) and e) above -, you should refuse to enter the prison and inform whoever is on the Gate accordingly (preferably in writing).
PCS cannot induce you to refuse to attend work as this would be classed as industrial action. The purpose of this circular is to inform you of your rights in this case but the exercise of those rights is down to you as an individual. PCS will, however, support members who may be threatened with disciplinary action should they refuse to enter their workplace having given such notice.