An employee may be given community sentence if they are convicted of a crime by a court but are not sent to prison. Community sentencing usually requires that an employee has to do unpaid work in their local community, like removing graffiti. This is called Community Payback.
Community sentences can be given for crimes such as:
- damaging property
- benefit fraud
An employee may be given a community sentence if:
- the court thinks they’re more likely to stop committing crime than if they go to prison
- it’s the first time they have committed a crime
- they have a mental health condition that affects their behaviour
Community Payback is unpaid work like:
- removing graffiti
- clearing wasteland
- decorating public places and buildings – for example, a community centre
The employee will usually work in their local area and be managed by a Community Payback supervisor. The employee must wear a high visibility orange vest while they work so that the community knows that payback is happening. An employee given a Community sentence can expect to complete anything from 40 to 300 hours of Community Payback, depending on how serious the crime was.
The Community Payback work will be arranged outside their working hours if they have a job, for example evenings or weekends. If in full time work an employee will have to do Community Payback work for a minimum of six or seven hours each week. This will usually take place on one day at weekends if the employee works during the week.
If the person is unemployed, they have to work 3 or 4 days each week for a minimum of 18 or 28 hours each week.
Treatment and programmes
The treatment or programmes given to offenders are intended to help with problems that led to them committing the crime in the first place. They are also designed to stop the offender committing more crime.
Programmes and treatment could be to help with:
- any addictions the offender has, for example drugs
- a mental health condition
- getting new skills and qualifications
Depending on the treatment or programme, it could involve:
- counselling sessions – where the offender gets support from a medical professional
- drug testing
- ‘accredited programmes’, such as anger management courses, to help with the offender’s behaviour
- mental health treatment with a doctor or psychologist
- improving the offenders reading and writing
- getting help with a job application
- learning interview skills
- meeting people who were affected by the offence, as part of a restorative justice programme
If the offender doesn’t complete a treatment or programme, or fails a drugs test, they could be sent back to court and their punishment could increase.
What the offender can and can’t do while on a community sentence?
What offenders can and can’t do while on a community sentence is decided by:
- a court when they are sentenced
- the person dealing with the sentence once it’s started – called the ‘offender manager’
This can include:
- being at a particular place at certain times – known as a ‘curfew’
- wearing an electronic tag to check that the offender stays there
- being stopped from going to certain places or areas, for example the victim’s home
- appointments with an offender manager
- being stopped from taking part in certain activities, for example going to a pub or a bar
- being told where they have to live, for example a family member’s home
If the offender doesn’t stick to the rules while they’re on a community sentence, they could get a warning or be sent back to court, and their punishment could increase.
Breach of a Community Order Requirement
When an offender fails without a reasonable excuse to carry out a community order requirement (such as failing without good reason to attend an unpaid work appointment) he/she will usually receive a warning stating that any further failure to comply within the next 12 months will mean the case will be brought back to court. A further failure to comply will result in the defendant being returned to court for breach of the community order.
What can I do if my employee is sent to prison for breaching a Community Order requirement?
The employee will be unable to attend work if they are in prison. An employer may take a view that this situation “frustrates” the contract and that they have grounds to dismiss the employee. If you are considering this route, please give us a call to talk things through.
If you want to find out more about how to deal with an employee has been given Community Service, give us a call – 01706 565332.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.