A prison officer can be a highly rewarding career, for the right candidates. There are a few factors that go into the salary expectations of a prison officer, and it’s not all about the take home salary.
The prison service rewards and promotes a healthy balance of work and family life in a couple of ways. One way is to pay a minimum starting salary of £18’720 per annum to their staff, but there’s more benefits to be claimed above that base rate.
As a new start to the prison service, your basic salary is going to be £18’720 per annum. That salary is based upon a working week of 37 hours and includes an unsocial working hours allowance rate, incorporated at 17%, as you will be required to carry out shift work on a pro rata basis.
There is an option to increase your starting salary to £20’796 annually. This will require you to commit to working an additional 4 hours, to bring your total working week to 41 hours. The exception to these salaries is the Greater London area where the rates are increased in line with a higher cost of living.
Part of working requires you to have paid leave every year. That’s the law and when you work for the prison service; your leave is going to be different from normal requirements.
Paid leave is based upon 2 components.
1) It incorporates public holidays
2) It increases after 10 years of service
The prison service is a 24/7 operation. The job requires prison officers to work unsocial hours, and that will include working public holidays. The holiday entitlement for prison officers is based upon a 37-hour working week. For the first 10 years of service, you’ll be entitled to 5 weeks paid leave, making a total of 185 hours per year.
After 10 years of service that will rise to 222 hours paid leave per year. The hours of paid leave you’re entitled to and required to take, based on the nature of the job, is inclusive of 78 hours additional leave, to cover the public holidays. You will be required to work bank holidays from time to time.
If you would like to become a prison officer, but don’t find the salary package too attractive, you may want to consider the additional benefits HMP have to offer. For a start, you have a couple of pension scheme options. When it comes to pensions there’s always going to be personal preferences, therefore the prison service, offer their staff a couple of options, and leave it up to you to decide which pension package is best for yourself.
After serving 2 months in the HMP service as a prison officer, you’ll be entitled to claim travel expenses to get you to and from your place of work. This will be based upon purchasing a quarterly travel card, or a longer period travel card, which you’re entitled to reclaim.
The Salary Sacrifice Scheme
The salary sacrifice scheme aims to encourage a couple of things and offers incentives based upon a salary deduction in lieu of paying National Insurance and Tax. Part of that is catering to parents by offering childcare vouchers, to help meet the needs of childcare provision. Instead of paying your child minder out of your taxable income, parents can waive a proportion of their salary to be paid in the form of childcare vouchers.The only requirements are that you must use an approved child minder service to be eligible.
The other way you can use the salary sacrifice scheme is by cycling.
Prison officers are offered a £1’000 per annum waiver, which is to cover the cost of either cycle hire or safety equipment to cycle to and from their place of work. This is a handy waiver for those who like to keep fit and cycle for leisure anyway, or it might be something that could encourage you to take up cycling.
As you can see, the financial incentives for a prison officer don’t appear to be a great salary range, however when you take into account the other financial benefits provided to prison officers, then it can be a financially viable career path, by combing the pension and rewards schemes available.
There is also promotional opportunities within the HMP service, which give officers the opportunity for internal advancement to shift supervisors and unit managers. The longer you serve in the service the better your chances of promotion, and along with that salary increases, which could see you earning around £33’000 per annum as a senior prison officer.