For Staff

Industrial action | FAQs

Questions and answers

Last updated 1 March 2023 

These questions and answers have been developed to help colleagues and we’ll be updating this page throughout the industrial action. If you have a question that is specific to your personal situation please speak to your manager, who will consult with HR if necessary.  

Professional behaviours at the university
About industrial action 
Participating in industrial action (strike and ASOS) (includes guidance on reporting participation through Employee Self Service)  
Pay deductions   
Pensions, death in service and ill health 
November Industrial Action

Professional behaviours at the University  

The University respects the right of eligible staff members to take part in the strike action. We ask that all staff continue to follow the University’s Code of Conduct on Professional Behaviours during this period.  

About industrial action  

Why is industrial action taking place? 

The current UCU disputes relate to changes to the USS pension scheme, and their campaigns focused on casualisation, gender, ethnicity and disability pay inequality, workload and the 2022/23 pay award. The UNISON and Unite disputes relate to pay. The disputes around pay and pensions are nationally negotiated. However, the University is able to take steps to improve conditions locally and significant work is already underway to address those. We have been working constructively with our three trades unions to implement a series of commitments on related areas that we can address. These include issues around workload, employment terms, supporting our lowest paid staff, and fixed term contracts. 
This support for staff aligns with our three Fairer future for all pledges:  

  • Reduce short-term contracts and boost job security  
  • Support a healthy and fulfilled staff community  
  • Create opportunity and celebrate achievements. 

How do the ballots and voting participation on industrial action work?

In order for a trade union to achieve a mandate for action the law requires that at least 50% of members who are eligible to vote do so and that a majority of votes cast are in favour. Votes cast not in favour contribute to the meeting of the first threshold of a 50% participation rate. This time UCU have conducted a nationally aggregated ballot where votes are counted on a national basis. UNISON have Unite conducted disaggregated ballots which means votes are cast and counted at individual institution level and action can be taken at each university where a turn-out of over 50% is secured and the majority of members vote in favour of action.

Who is taking part in industrial action? 

Members of the University and College Union (UCU), UNISON and Unite trades unions may choose to take part in industrial action.  

What industrial action is being taken and when will it happen? 
Strike action has been announced by University and College Union (UCU) on 1, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28 February and 1, 2, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 March 2023.

Action short of strike (ASOS), by UCU, continues until no later than Thursday 20 April 2023.

UNISON has announced that eight days of strike action will take place on 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 22, 23, 24 February 2023.

Unite has announced that six days of strike action will take place on 8, 9, 10, 22, 23, 24 February. 

UCU, UNISON and Unite have announced that they will pause industrial action in weeks commencing 20 and 27 February.

Will there be picket lines and what should I expect?  

Picket lines may be formed during periods of industrial action even when no formal strike action is taking place. Picketing must be conducted peacefully and respectfully and will not prevent people from attending work.  

What should I do if I choose not to cross a picket line?  

If you are not actively participating in the industrial action but choose not to cross the picket line, you must let your line manager know. You will be recorded as ‘absent’ and deductions from your pay will be made. 

I am not striking but working from home on a strike day – is this allowed?  

If you are not participating in the strike action, then you can confirm with your manager whether it is still appropriate to work from home or not. Any new requests to work off campus on days of strike action will need to be made to your line manager and will be considered carefully and in the context of your role and duties. Technically, anyone who does not work without a legitimate or pre-agreed reason will be considered to be on strike.

If I do not participate in industrial action but would like to take annual leave on a strike day, is this allowed?    

Any annual leave that was agreed before the action days were announced is not affected. Any new requests for annual leave on days of strike action will need to be submitted through the normal request process and prior management approval obtained.   

What should I do if I am unwell on a strike day? 

If you are unwell on a strike day you should report in sick as normal and follow your local sickness absence reporting procedures 

I have a medical/dental appointment on a strike day 

If you are not taking strike action, then you should inform your line manager as normal that you have a medical /dental appointment providing the usual evidence and attend the appointment as normal. On completion of your appointment, you should return to work as you would do normally. If you are taking strike action, you may attend your medical appointment and should declare your strike action by responding to your line managers request and via Employee Self Service. 

Participating in industrial action  

What do I need to do if I participate in industrial action? 

It is a requirement for staff to confirm if they have taken part in industrial action. It would be helpful in terms of minimising impact on our students if staff told us in advance that they intended to take part, but we recognise that no one is obliged to declare their intentions in advance.

However, following identified periods of industrial action anyone who has taken part must formally register their participation.

How do I register my participation in industrial action?

Participation in strike action must be registered via the ESS system within the deadline specified. This is to ensure that appropriate salary adjustments can be processed. Pay will continue to be deducted for strike action based on 1/365th of pro rata annual salary. 

If you are on campus, you can access Employee Self Service (ESS) directly. If you are not on campus, then you will need to log onto the Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) to access the Employee Self Service portal. Guidance on using the Windows Virtual Desktop is available from IT. 

If you experience technical difficulties, then please contact IT who can support you. Please do not contact HR to log any strike participation for you; you are required to complete the reporting yourself. You are not required, but may choose, to record ASOS when ASOS takes the form of only working contracted hours and duties.  

Postgraduate Researchers (PGR) that teach, if you have participated in industrial action when you were due to teach, then please update your line manager. You may not have access to ESS and therefore do not have to access and update it. Read our guidance on how to record industrial action dates through ESS. 

If you do not wish to take part in industrial action, you should attend work as normal on the affected dates. 

What are the deadlines for reporting my participation in strike action via ESS?  

Staff are required to notify us of strike action taken.  

Given the extensive nature of the remaining period of industrial action, we have set three reporting dates for notifying us of participation in strike action via Employee Self Service (ESS)
These are detailed below: 

Phase one: 8 February to 12 February. Reporting deadline Monday 20 Febuary  
Phase two: 14 February to 2 March. Reporting Deadline Friday 10 March  
Phase three: 15 March to 22 March. Reporting Deadline Thursday 30 March 

Do I need to tell my students that I intend to strike?  

We encourage you to tell students and anyone else affected in advance, that the scheduled teaching will no longer be happening.  

What should be prioritised during industrial action? 

To minimise the impact of industrial action on our students and to ensure continued compliance with the conditions of registration with OfS, all staff taking part in strike action should prioritise the delivery of required educational activities on their return to work. Required educational activities should be delivered as soon as possible and within timescales agreed with Heads of School/Institute (or agreed delegate). For the purposes of this message, ‘required educational activities’ are defined as: 

  • Timetabled teaching activity including lectures, seminars, lab classes 
  • Personal tutoring support 
  • Examinations or other formal assessments associated with progression and award (dissertations etc.) 

Where timetabled teaching activity is impacted by strike action, rescheduling of this activity must be prioritised. Colleagues taking part in ASOS are also required to prioritise educational activities and deprioritise or stop other work (including research-related activities). 

Rescheduled educational activity should in principle be delivered as ‘like for like’ (e.g. face to face teaching should continue to be delivered face to face). Where it is not possible to reschedule on a ‘like for like’ basis owing to timetabling/space constraints, colleagues should deliver a high quality, interactive alternative (e.g. a live online lecture to cover a cancelled in person session or small group tutorial sessions to cover missed materials). 

Should marking and assessment be prioritised? 

Marking and assessment is an essential part of our educational activity. The processes around assessment, marking and release of marks are complex and involve academic and professional services colleagues working in partnership. Furthermore, turnaround times are tight and enable inter-related processes to be completed. Although wider work is ongoing to simplify and make more efficient these processes, it is vital that marking is prioritised and deadlines for the return of marks are strictly adhered to. 

Pay deductions for participation in strike action  

How is pay deduction calculated if I take part in strike action?  

1/365th of your salary will be deducted for each day of strike action. The same calculation will be used for full-time and part-time staff. For part-time, the actual hours due to be worked on a strike day is used to ensure that the lower full-time equivalent (FTE) is reflected in the deduction calculations. To be clear, you will lose a full day’s pay for each day you are on strike. Any days on which an employee strikes will also not be counted towards their length of service, and so any length of service anniversaries, benefits and/or service-related awards will be adjusted accordingly. Please note, however, that continuous service will be maintained. 

Will pay be deducted if I take part in action short of strike (ASOS)?  

The University does not accept partial performance or any breach of contract. If you take part in Action Short of Strike and refuse to complete your contractual duties or otherwise fulfil your contractual obligations within contracted hours, this can be deemed partial performance.  

Notwithstanding this, pay will not be deducted for taking ASOS where all required educational activities (as defined above) are carried out as a priority on return to work and delivered within the timescales agreed with Heads of School.  

However, failing to prioritise and deliver agreed educational activities in the timeframe agreed with the Head of School/Institute (or delegate), including the prompt return of examination and assessment marks, is considered a breach of contract and the University will deduct 100% of pay at a rate of 1/365th of pro rata annual salary per day until such activity is delivered in accordance with the timescales agreed with the Heads of School/Institute or their delegate.  

This position is in line with Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) guidance. 

Will pay deducted for either strike action or ASOS participation be repaid once the work missed is completed? 

No. Any pay that has been deducted due to industrial action will not be repaid. 

When will deductions be made?   

No earlier than the April 2023 pay cycle. 

Pensions, death in service and ill health 

Will my pension contributions be affected if I take part in industrial action?  

Both employer and employee pension contributions will be affected by the pay deductions. The contributions will be reduced proportionately to the pay deductions.  

Can I make up my pension contributions if I take part in industrial action?  

You can make up the missed pension contributions if you choose. Please contact the pensions team directly to understand any individual impact. 


What information is available to students? 

The University is committed to minimising any impact on student education and we will be doing all we can to ensure any cancelled events are recovered. Where possible, we ask colleagues to advise students of any cancellations in advance.   

A dedicated webpage on the For Students website contains general information on when the strikes are happening and why, plus what the University it doing to respond to issues. 

If students have a specific question or need support, start with the Student Information Service, who can direct them to the right people to help. This web page will be regularly updated with new questions throughout the period.  

November industrial action 

When will deductions be made?   

Deductions for November 2022 industrial action will be made in February 2023.