Additional Guidance: NPS Covid19 Special Payments Scheme

Please find below some additional guidance received from the NPS which confirms that there is no rigid minimum for the number of days/weeks which staff have to undertake an offender facing role to qualify for the covid19 special circumstances payment of £150/month. If you have any questions regarding this or other matters please contact the branch via email to

We had tried to address this issue as part of the FAQs – but we have set no central limit or minimum, for the number of days or weeks for which staff would be working in the circumstances described on paragraphs 46 and 47.  We do pro rata if staff are absent.

There is an expectation that it is paid to staff  who are “undertaking offender-facing work as part of their day-to-day work”  (see FAQ question 8)

We have intended that managers will have some flexibility and we are monitoring the application at Divisional level.

COVID19 Special Circumstances Payment

46.          This payment is available to all staff working in NPS sites across the country during the COVID19 period in recognition of the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves working in and reflects that some aspects of the role will be temporarily more challenging, which staff will need to manage flexibly to help manage probation services.

47.          ACOs/Heads of Units may pay a COVID19 Special Circumstances payment to any staff working in an offender facing role and should apply the payment flexibly. For example, this may also be used, for staff who are not normally in offender facing roles, but volunteer to do additional duties to support the operational line.

We have also provided guidance via the FAQs

7.       How do I pro rata the £150 Special Circumstances Payment?

These bonuses have been implemented to provide recognition for the exceptional circumstances people are working under. If an individual is not at work, for any reason, they are not considered to be experiencing the challenging circumstances.

NTS 2020-03 states that if staff complete a part month due to absence (e.g. annual leave, sickness, self-isolation etc.), their bonus payment will be applied to the nearest full week (Paragraph 23 and 28).

A full week is considered to be made up of 5 days (regardless of shift pattern, as per current policy) therefore if there is less than 2.5 days of absence, it can be treated as a full week and they are entitled to the bonus. If there is more than 2.5 days of absence, it cannot be treated as a full week so will not be entitled to the bonus. Therefore the pro-rata payment in the case of absence should be calculated based on the number of full weeks (based on whether they have been absent for 2.5 days or less) completed in that month. The bonus should not be reduced due to Bank Holidays or for days when staff are not due to be at work, i.e. scheduled absences such as working from home as a result of restricted working arrangements due to the COVID-19 situation.

For part-time staff, in the same way as for rest days, we cannot count days upon which a member of staff was not scheduled to work anyway as non-attendance. The exception to this is where scheduled rest days etc. fall within a block of other absence (e.g. sickness, self-isolation or leave) where clearly the member of staff would not have attended had those days been scheduled working days.

4 weeks (Full month): £150
3 weeks: £112.50

2 weeks: £75

1 Week: £37.50

It is long standing pay policy that the working week, regardless of actual days worked for those who are on shift patterns, for contracted hours to be averaged out across 5 working days. This is so that the approach for such purposes as calculating unauthorised absence deductions etc. can be applied equally to both operational and not-operational staff. 2.5 days is therefore half of a working week. The same methodology is to be applied to other payments

Payments are to be pro-rated by individual weeks, you cannot carry days over or count days cumulatively across the weeks.

8.       How do I sign up for the Special Circumstances Payment?

With the COVID19 Extra Hours Special Bonus Scheme, staff need to sign up to agree to undertake the additional hours. 

However the Special Circumstances Payment is paid to staff who are undertaking offender-facing work as part of their day-to-day work, including those who have been redeployed to undertake offender facing work.

9.       Can you clarify which staff are entitled to the special circumstances payment?

The Special Circumstances Payment was included within the suite of COVID 19 Special Payments Scheme measures to acknowledge the challenging environmental circumstances staff in offender facing roles would experience. 

All staff, across all grades who are offender facing can claim this payment for the duration that their duties fulfil these criteria. 

Staff whose substantive role is not offender-facing, are able to claim for a full/part month (as appropriate) if they volunteer to do offender facing work, they are suitably trained AND there is a resourcing requirement to allocate them to these tasks instead of staff who substantively would be detailed. 

Probation Managers should not allocate usually non-offender facing staff to offender facing work based simply on them volunteering to do so – there needs to be a resourcing gap to be filled

I hope this answers your question – but please let me know if you have any further issues arising


Ministry of JusticeRussell SwabyActing Deputy HR Divisional Director  (NPS, HQ & Wales)People Group