The National Executive has become aware that many workplaces are experiencing problems with the prevalence of rats and mice in the workplace.

Employers in the UK are required by law to take reasonable steps to ensure that workers work in a safe environment. This means putting in place all necessary health and safety precautions to protect employees from injury or illness when at work, including protection from rodents in the workplace.

In the United Kingdom, the legal responsibility of managing pests, including rats, in the workplace falls under various health and safety and pest-specific legislation. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, for instance, places a duty on employers to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of all their employees. This includes maintaining a workplace that is safe and free from health risks, which extends to managing and preventing pest infestations. Additionally, under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, local authorities have the power to compel property owners to take action to deal with rat infestations. Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to significant penalties, including fines and, in severe cases, imprisonment.

In the interest of health and safety, rats and mice in the workplace must be promptly addressed to prevent the potential spread of diseases and to maintain a clean and safe working environment.

Addressing the issue of health and safety rats in the workplace is an employer’s responsibility and an important step in ensuring a hygienic, safe, and conducive work environment.

Employers can uphold their legal obligation by implementing a robust pest control policy, conducting regular property inspections, and engaging the services of professional pest controllers as necessary. Additionally, employees should be educated about the signs of infestation and encouraged to report any signs immediately.

The law not only requires action when an infestation occurs but also necessitates preventative measures to minimise the risk of an infestation. As such, maintaining cleanliness, sealing potential entry points, and managing waste and outdoor spaces are integral parts of an employer’s duty to protect their workforce from the potential threat of rodent infestations.

Should you have concerns regarding rat infestations in your workplace the POA Committee should make representations to management in relation to this. If this is done, local management must take the following steps, which are legally enforceable for the purposes of Section 179(1)(B) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Axt 1992;

  1. arrange to meet with the members of the POA Branch Committee as soon as reasonably practicable.
  2. Endeavour in good faith to agree a resolution of the concerns with the POA Branch Committee and will in any event take account of those concerns when deciding what regime should apply, what instructions should be given to Officers and/or any other relevant actions or steps.
  3. Afford reasonable facilities for the local Branch Committee to communicate with its members in order to seek their views about any proposed resolution.

Please bring this circular to the attention of all members.


Yours sincerely


Deputy General Secretary

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.