An infl uential group of MPs as suggested that prison staff should not be paid for the fi rst three days they are off work through illness,s to curb absence rates in the service.
A report by the Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises public spending, has found that in 2002 to 2003, sick leave among prison service
staff in England and Wales cost the taxpayer £80m.
Prison staff took an average of 14.7 days off through ill health, with more than one-fi fth taking 11 days or more. The MP said the service should consider following the example of commercial employers such as Tesco in limiting sick pay.
Overall, prison staff took 668,337 days off sick – the equivalent of 3,000 staff working full-time for a year. But the average in 2003-2004 fell slightly to 13.3 days, said the committee.
The Prison Offi cers’ Association, the main union for the service, has complained about a lack of OH provision and support for its members.
Assaults on members was an issue, it said, as was under-staffi ng. There was also a culture where asking for help was often perceived as a sign of weakness or damaging to your career.