For Staff

Industrial action

An image of the Parkinson building with the caption 'Industrial action'

This section carries our latest news and updates on industrial action taking place at Leeds

Our approach at Leeds

We recognise these are difficult times for many of our staff and students, as they are for much of society, and we are taking positive action. Even before the rise in global cost of living pressures, the University was working constructively with our trades unions to address concerns about workload and casualisation, improve employment terms and support our lowest paid staff. 

This includes moving many staff from fixed-term to on-going employment contracts, reviewing how we employ hourly paid staff, and continuing to pay the voluntary living wage and apply service-related salary increments. 

Commitments to improve these areas are already firmly part of our strategic plans, as demonstrated by our Fairer future for all pledges. At a sector level, the nationally negotiated pay offer for 2022/23 provides for a far greater uplift for staff on the lowest pay scales – up to 9% in the coming year. 

On 10 June, our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk, issued an update about the resolution of the recent marking and assessment boycott. In this statement she stressed our commitment to working with our three campus trades unions - UNISON, Unite and UCU – around a shared agenda to make progress on the issues that have been the subject of dispute. 

Aligned to this, on 17 June, the Vice-Chancellor wrote to all staff to share a series of commitments, which, aligned to our University values of collaboration, compassion, inclusivity and integrity, aim to improve conditions for colleagues and will help us build a Fairer future for all.  

  • From October 2022, all staff will receive one additional day annual leave entitlement (pro rata) and our University closure days will extend to include the full day on Maundy Thursday. We will also prioritise a review of special leave arrangements.  

  • We will review and improve our Employment terms - including our ongoing work on the use of fixed-term contracts, with other contract types to follow, as well as review our pay and grading structures. We remain committed to supporting and contributing to the national approach to the annual pay review.  

  • Recognising the impact on our community of increases in the cost of living, a one-off payment of £650 (not pro-rated) will be made in July to all staff in roles up to and including grade 6. This will be in addition to the 2022/23 nationally agreed pay award. Eligible staff can choose whether to receive this either in full as vouchers through our Recognition Awards Portal, or as a cash payment through payroll (subject to normal tax and NI deductions). The vouchers can be used in a vast array of retail outlets, including, but not limited to supermarkets. As part of our grading structure review, we will also consider whether further one-off payments may be appropriate to be made later in the year.    

Find out more about our other commitments 

Aside from these developments, we are aware that various misconceptions have been circulating recently relating to pensions, pay and other related issues. We seek to clarify some of these points here in the interest of accuracy: 

  • The University holds joint structured Engagement and Communications meetings twice each week with our three campus trades unions - UNISON, Unite and UCU.  We also attend Joint Committee meetings at least three times a year and, since 2020, we’ve attended an independently chaired Organisational Change Group, which provides formal consultation on change matters.  These meeting provide clear, established routes to discuss all employment matters, including pay and working conditions. 

  • In relation to the most recent disputes specifically, we’ve met with all three trades unions to discuss their concerns and separately with UCU and UNISON to negotiate specific proposals.   

  • The current action by UNISON relates to the 2021/22 national pay round which was applied across our staff community in August 2021.  Annual service increment payments have also continued during this period, and the University has ensured that all employees are paid at least the Voluntary Living Wage of £9.50 p/h. 

  • Looking forwards, one of our commitments is to undertake a full review of the pay and grading structures in the 2022/23 academic year.  The University has paid all staff in full throughout the global pandemic and there have been no job losses at Leeds as a direct result of Covid.  Extra payments or recognition bonuses were also made to our colleagues in the Critical Activity Teams who continued to attend work during lockdown.  All staff were entitled to the extended Carers’ leave provision during the pandemic and benefited from the well-deserved additional annual leave over the Christmas periods in 2020 and 2021. 

  • Throughout the pandemic, the University followed Inland Revenue guidelines in relation to home working and encouraged people who were working from home to apply to HMRC to claim its tax relief for additional household costs.  

  • On-campus working was made available to those who needed it, in accordance with Government lockdown restrictions & timescales and coming out of lockdowns, hybrid working has been available since late 2021 enabling people to work on campus, as well as at home, subject to their role requirements and agreement with their manager. 

  •  In relation to the University’s financial position, we reported an operating deficit of £11m in the 2020/21 Annual Accounts which reflected a range of financial impacts from the pandemic. Since 2018, universities have had to include their share of deficits in pensions schemes in their Annual Accounts and in the 2021/22 accounts we expect a significant change due to the recognition of the new valuation deficit, with an estimated £200m cost for the University. In addition, we are experiencing significant unplanned inflationary cost pressures in 21/22 and expect this to continue.    

  • The University Vice Chancellor has received no pay increase since her appointment in September 2020. 

Planned industrial action 

UNISON’s current industrial action relates to the 2021/22 pay round. The nationally agreed pay award for 2022/23 is still being finalised and will be applied to all staff in August 2022 payroll. 

Our priorities and principles

Our priority throughout this time is to minimise any disruption to students and to ensure we continue to communicate with colleagues about the issues at the heart of this action. 

Our actions as a University community are guided by three underlying principles. These are to:

  1. Protect the interests of students​
  2. Retain the cohesion of our community 
  3. Protect the standard of Leeds degrees and other qualifications.

Questions and answers 

Our questions and answers web pages have been developed for all colleagues, we are updating these pages throughout the industrial action. 

Questions and answers (UNISON industrial action)

See also

USS Pension, In depth webpage 
Links, news and resources relating to the USS Pension valuation process.

Student questions and answers
Answers to student questions on industrial action. 


Building a fairer future for all – increased annual leave and other commitments to you

A message to all staff from the Vice-Chancellor.

University of Leeds and Industrial Action

A message from the Vice-Chancellor about an agreement reached with University of Leeds branch of UCU

Security reminder | Working on campus

An email sent to all staff by Dennis Hopper on Friday 27 May.

Further UCU strike action and ballot

University and College Union (UCU) has announced further strike action at Leeds from 21 to 25 March 2022.

A message and video from the Vice-Chancellor on the eve of strike action

Email from Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk, to all staff on Friday 11 February 2022.

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