Notification of participation in the strike action
Please use the form below to provide notification that you have participated in strike action on 18, 19 or 20 September and return it by 25 September 2023.
Industrial Action - Frequently Asked Questions
- What will happen if I decide to strike on any of the strike days?
The University will withhold a day's pay from your salary for the day that you are involved in strike action. The level withheld will be calculated at the rate of 1/365th of annual salary per day. You are required to notify the University of your participation in strike action in order that appropriate deductions may be made from your salary.
- How do I notify the University if I participated or plan to participate in strike action?
If you have participated in strike action, please complete the notification form available on Staffnet. This can also be used to notify of your intention to participate in strike action should you wish to.
Completed forms need to be returned to your Head of School/Section and copied to firstname.lastname@example.org within the timescales indicated on the form to ensure appropriate and accurate decuctions from your salary.
- I already have prior arrangements for the day(s) of the strike that will result in me being away from the University. What will happen?
All agreed absences will be honoured. You will not be regarded as being on strike and there will be no effect on your salary if you have the prior approval of your Head of School / Section to be away from the University on any of the strike days. This also applies to anyone who has organised pre-authorised annual leave, home-working or any other absence due to official University business.
- I work a 9-day fortnight pattern and I am participating in strike action, will I still be entitled to my day off?
Under the 9-day fortnight scheme, if you were absent from work and were not able to accrue enough hours, you are not entitled to a day off. The pay deductions made for participating in strike are based on 1/365th of your annual salary per day, which only covers your basic contractual hours (i.e. 7.5 hours a day) as such, it does not cover sufficient number of hours for you to claim a day off. The cycle will reset the following week / first week of no industrial action.
- Will my pension be affected if I take part in the industrial action?
It has been agreed on this occasion that the University will continue to pay employer contributions to participating scheme members. Similarly, employee pension contributions will be deducted as normal irrespective of any reduction in salary as a consequence of participation in industrial action. This will ensure continuity of pension scheme membership and life assurance benefits.
- What happens if I am ill on any of the strike days?
If you are ill on any of the strike days you will be entitled to the sickness benefits available to you. If you are absent due to sickness on the day(s) of industrial action you must follow the normal absence reporting procedure. You will be asked to provide a medical certificate from your doctor confirming the nature of your illness on this day.
- Can I take annual leave on any of the strike days?
Annual leave that has the prior approval of your line manager will be accepted. If you do not report for work and prior approval has not been given for your absence you will be regarded as being on strike and appropriate pay will be withheld.
- I am not participating in industrial action. What should I do on the day of the strike?
You should report to work as usual. If you are absent from the office due to pre-authorised Annual Leave or sickness, you must ensure that this is reported through to your line manager / Head of School.
- Can I be asked to cover the work of those taking industrial action?
If your line manager asks that you undertake such work, as long as it is within the bounds of your contract, normal work and job description, you are obliged to do so.
- I am participating in industrial action. Can I be asked to reschedule the classes that were missed due to my absence?
The University has the right to determine what tasks are prioritised during working hours and to request that you reschedule classes where appropriate in the interest of students. Should you refuse to reschedule this will be regarded as partial performance/not working to contract and your pay will be deducted as per the arrangements for action short of strike action.
- Will there be picket lines around the University on the day(s) of the strike?
We anticipate that there will be picket lines at the main entrances to our campuses.
In general, the number of pickets should not exceed six employees (plus a full-time union official). The only purpose of the picket is to peacefully obtain or communicate information or to peacefully persuade a person not to work.
- What should I do if I am confronted by staff on picket lines?
Picketing is covered by a Code of Practice which recommends that usually there should be no more than 6 people outside an entrance to, or exit from, a workplace.
Pickets are required to conduct themselves in a peaceful and non-threatening manner. Some staff on picket duty may seek to persuade you not to work but they have no right to impede your access to University premises. If you wish to work on the day of the strike you should walk or drive carefully past the picket line and report for work as normal.
- What should I expect from the picket lines?
You should expect the picket lines to be professionally organised and the behaviour of the pickets to be courteous. The pickets will conduct themselves in accordance with the Code of Practice.
- If I join the picket line at lunchtime am I on strike?
Yes. If you participate in any action you will be regarded as being on strike and a day's pay will be withheld.
- My Head of School/Section doesn't always know my whereabouts as I regularly work from home. He/she may report me as being absent on strike when I am not. How can I be sure that you will not withhold pay from me?
It is important that you make sure your Head of School/Head of Section is informed of your working arrangements on any of the strike days. In these circumstances you will not have any payments withheld from your salary. In addition all staff who participate in the strike action will receive a letter advising them that monies will be withheld from their salary payment at the end of the month.
- Will I be informed if a reduction is going to be made from my salary?
Yes, you will be sent a letter advising you that the University will withhold a day's pay from your salary for the day that you are involved in strike action. The level withheld will be calculated at the rate of 1/365th of annual salary per day. If you work part-time, a deduction will be made equivalent to contractual hours that should have been worked on each day on which strike action takes place.
- I am due to retire this year. However, I am considering taking part in the current industrial action in support of the dispute. Will my pension be affected?
No, it has been agreed on this occasion that the University will continue to pay employer contributions to participating scheme members. Similarly, employee pension contributions will be deducted as normal irrespective of any reduction in salary as a consequence of participation in industrial action. This will ensure continuity of pension scheme membership and life assurance benefits.
- I cannot attend work during strike day(s) due to adverse weather. What will happen?
If you indicated that you were going to participate in strike action on a day of adverse weather, or intended to do so, then your absence will count as a strike day and you should complete the form to notify the University on this basis.
If you indicated that you would have been at work, or intended to be, but were not able to attend due to adverse weather, then your absence will be considered in line with the Severe Weather Policy.
- How does the University gather information about staff participating in strike action/action short of strike (ASOS) and why does it do so?
Heads of School/Directors are asked to provide information to Human Resources on the morning of each strike day or where it becomes apparent that staff are participating in ASOS. This enables the University to understand the level of participation in strike action/ASOS and, therefore, the level of disruption as well as to facilitate appropriate deductions from pay for those participating to be made. This is necessary in terms of the staff member’s contract of employment.
The information collated from Heads of School/Directors will include detail where staff have disclosed to them that they are participating in strike action/ASOS, confirmation of those not participating in strike action/ASOS (as they are at work or on leave) as well as any cases where staff are not at work and they are unsure whether staff are participating in strike action or not or, in the case of ASOS, it becomes apparent that the member of staff is participating in this.
Staff are asked to complete the form to confirm that they have participated in strike action/ASOS.
Human Resources then use the information above to write to staff to confirm participation in strike action/ASOS (for those staff members who have returned the form confirming participation. In addition, Human Resources will also write to staff who have not completed the form but where it is understood they have participated in strike action/ASOS. In each case, staff are given the opportunity to highlight any error in the information prior to deductions from pay being made.
- Is the rate of pay being withheld (50%) linked to a judgment about the level of marking and assessment/work activities being undertaken by staff?
No withholding pay based on 50% does not and is not intended to reflect balance of workload but, rather, is deemed by the University to be an appropriate level of pay deduction (while also retaining the right to deduct up to 100% of pay), given the severity of the impact of the boycott on students. To clarify, and as stated in the first communication to staff, staff who participate in the boycott but undertake other activities do so on a voluntary basis.
- Do staff have to complete the notification of participation form for specific days of the week that they are undertaking marking and assessment activities?
No, as participation in the boycott is deemed to be continuous after notification, this means that staff do not need to notify the University of specific days they are or are not participating in the boycott once their participation commences. Moreover, if a staff member does not notify the University that they are participating when in fact they are doing so, they will be deemed to have been participating from the point at which marking and assessment was available for them to carry out but which they did not carry out.
- What happens if staff do not provide notification of participation in the boycott but it becomes apparent that they are participating as marking/assessment work has not been returned?
It is important that staff respond honestly when they are asked if they are participating in the marking and assessment boycott. Where staff fail to notify the University of their participation, noting the seriousness of this, the Disciplinary Procedure may be initiated.
Where it becomes apparent that staff are participating/have participated their Head of School will discuss with them why they have not responded to requests regarding participation and will consider whether informal or formal action under the University’s Disciplinary Procedure is appropriate.
In this situation, and where possible (i.e., there is time available for marking/assessment to be completed), staff will still be provided with the opportunity to complete their marking and assessment. Provided that the marking and assessment is carried out in time for students to graduate or continue their studies, no salary deduction will be made. However, if the final deadline has passed (to be determined by the University), and staff decide to continue participating in the boycott and not complete/submit the marking/assessment, then at this point pay deductions will take effect, based on 50% of salary and backdated to the point at which the marking and assessment was available to the staff member to carry out. This final deadline date will be confirmed by the Head of School to each member of staff participating in the boycott individually.
- I am a member of Professional Services staff participating in the Marking and Assessment Boycott. Will my pay be withheld for doing so?
If you are a member of Professional Services staff who is participating or have participated in the boycott, please complete the notification form and return this to your line manager, copying in email@example.com as soon as possible. Written confirmation of the dates staff are considered to have participated in the boycott will be provided by line managers and HR – this will also apply in instances where it becomes apparent that staff are participating in the boycott but have not completed a notification form.
The date from which pay will be withheld in these circumstances will be determined by the line manager and the date pay will be withheld to will be the final deadline given for completing the marking and assessment administrative activities. Arrangements for pay to be withheld will be in line with the arrangements applied for Academic Staff participating in the boycott.
- Why have weekends been considered in the calculation as this means more money is being withheld from me?
Salaries are calculated on calendar weeks, i.e., on the basis of 1/365ths per day, rather than a calculation used based on a full working week being Monday-Friday which would, therefore be on the basis of 1/260ths.
A week’s pay is, therefore, calculated as 7/365ths, rather than 5/260ths.
The example below illustrates the effect each calculation has in respect of withholding pay.
Example: salary of £40,000 per annum
7/365ths = £767.12
5/260ths = £769.23
- Are annual leave days, sick days or other forms of leave included in the calculation for withholding pay?
No, if you have been on annual leave (including public holidays) and have confirmed this to your Head of School/Section then they will not be included in the calculation for withholding pay. Similarly, if you have been sick then they will not have been included. You should ensure that you report sickness to your line manager in the normal manner. In addition, if you have been absent due to other special leave provisions, e.g., compassionate leave then these will not be included in the calculation.
- As the payment being made is considered an ex-gratia/discretionary payment, does this mean that it won’t be subject to deductions for tax and national insurance?
The term ex-gratia in this context means that the payment is discretionary with the University having no obligation to pay it. This is for the reasons previously detailed, that the University’s considers participation in the boycott amounts to partial performance of the contract of employment, which the University does not accept, and any activities that staff do undertake whilst participating in the boycott are on a voluntary basis. The University’s understanding is that HMRC will treat the payment as a discretionary payment related to employment, even though staff participating in the boycott have breached their contract of employment and any activities they choose to do are on a voluntary basis. As such, deductions for tax and national insurance apply.
The tax-free exemption specified by HMRC only applies to ex-gratia payments made on termination of employment
- Has an Equality Impact Assessment on the University’s policy on withholding pay been undertaken?
Yes, the University has completed an Equality Impact Assessment which can be viewed here.
- What happens to the pay that is withheld?
Withheld pay will be used to support student welfare.
- What happens to pension contributions in cases of strike action or action short of strike action (ASOS)?
Where a whole’s day’s pay is withheld, this may lead to a loss of pensionable service for each day of the strike/participating in ASOS.
This means that the University is not obliged to pay pension contributions where pay is withheld for participating in a strike/ASOS of one or more days' duration.
For each instance, the University will exercise its discretion whether to apply one of the following options (and notify employees in advance of the action):
(a) the employee can choose to pay both the University and employee contributions for each day of action, but they must notify this to the employer before the action takes place. This will mean that the day(s) of industrial action will count towards pensionable service.
(b) alternatively, the employee can elect not to make up the University and employee contributions for each day of action – in which case the day(s) of industrial action will not count towards pensionable service – but they can choose to pay a charge for maintaining their death in service benefits. Again, they must notify the University of this choice before the industrial action commences.
(c) the University can use its discretion to continue to make its employer contribution: in this case the employee will continue to make their contribution. This will mean that the period of the strike/ASOS will continue to count as pensionable service.
For the UCU industrial action commencing November 2022, the University has confirmed that option (c) above will apply. Pension contributions will continue to be paid by both the employee and the employer meaning that periods of participation in strike action/ASOS will count towards pension benefits.
The University reserves the right to review this arrangement.
Industrial Action Messages archive
- Marking and Assessment Boycott and graduations (25 May 2023)
- UCU industrial action update (23 May 2023)
- Further update on marking and assessment boycott (18 May 2023)
- Pay dispute and marking and assessment boycott (4 May 2023)
- Reminder: responsibility to notify the University of participation in marking and assessment boycott (24 April 2023)
- UCU Action Short of Strike Action (ASOS) - Marking and Assessment Boycott (19 April 2023)
- Update on national negotiations - pay and the USS pension scheme (11 April 2023)
- Update on pay negotiations (20 February 2023)
- Strike action - February and March (06 February 2023)
- Further update on 2023-2024 pay negotiations (30 January 2023)
- Industrial Action Update (26 January 2023)
- Update on 2023-2024 pay negotiations (17 January 2023)
- Update on national pay negotiations (12 December 2022)
- Reminder of strike action - staff message (22 November 2022)
- Notice of strike action - staff message (9 November 2022)
- Marking and Assessment Boycott and graduations (25 May 2023)
- Marking and assessment boycott: industrial action update (19 April 2023)
- Pause on strikes - classes go ahead (20 February 2023)
- Strike action update (6 February 2023)
- Industrial Action Update (27 January 2023)
- Reminder of strike action - student message (22 November 2022)
- Notice of industrial action - student message (9 November 2022)