For Staff

Industrial action | FAQs

Questions and answers

Page last updated: November 2022

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.  

The University is keen to collaborate with all parties to avoid deductions being necessary and, in this approach, is guided by the principles to: protect the interests of students; retain the cohesion of our community; and protect the standard of Leeds degrees and other qualifications. 

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  

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?

Three days of strike action have been announced by University and College Union (UCU) on Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Wednesday 30 November. 

Action short of strike (ASOS), by UCU, will commence on Wednesday 23 November and continue until no later than Thursday 20 April 2023.

The action short of a strike will consist of only working to contract; not undertaking any voluntary activities; not covering for absent colleagues; removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action; and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action. 

Seven days of strike action have been announced by UNISON on Thursday 24, Friday 25, Saturday 26, Sunday 27, Monday 28, Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 November. 

Five days of strike action have been announced by Unite on Thursday 24, Friday 25, Monday 28, Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 November.  

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 only be approved in exceptional circumstances.

Participating in industrial action  

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

We respect your right to take part in the strike action and we need to make every attempt during this period to keep our students informed. If you are eligible to participate in the strike, you are not obliged to tell us in advance that you intend to participate, but we encourage you to let your line manager know. If you take strike action for the period of November, you must inform us by completing the online form no later than Thursday 8 December 2022. Read our guidance on how to record industrial action dates through ESS

Do I need to tell my manager if I take strike action?

You are not obliged to tell your manager beforehand but you are required to do so upon your return to work, and in any case no later than the deadline below. If you take strike action in November, you must inform us by completing the online form no later than Thursday 8 December.  

Please also see: When do I need to register my participation in industrial action?  

How do I register that I have participated in industrial action?

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.

When do I need to register my participation in industrial action?  

It is important that any participation in industrial action is recorded in Employee Self Service (ESS) as soon as possible following the strike period. The deadline for action to be recorded (for the period of November is 8 December. If you cannot make this deadline, then please speak to your line manager. 

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.

Are colleagues who participate in industrial action (in whatever form) required to recover missed learning opportunities for students?

Some staff may be asked to prioritise specific duties upon return to normal working to protect students' educational experience instead of undertaking research or other work activity.  

Where applicable, colleagues may also be encouraged to update their material on Minerva and/or make it available to students. It is, however, always the staff member’s decision whether to make their material available. If asked to ensure the recovery of missed learning (which is a ‘reasonable management request’), a refusal to do so would amount to partial performance.  

The University does not accept partial performance and pay may be deducted in such circumstances.  

The University is obliged to communicate the legal position on ASOS, which is that the University does not accept partial performance of the contract of employment and therefore reserves the right to withhold up to 100 per cent of pay should participating in industrial action result in a breach of your contract. The deduction can apply from the date on which the breach commences and continue for the period that the breach continues. 

Can missed learning opportunities or activities be rescheduled for a time that I would not ordinarily teach or during what has previously been research time?  

Yes. Recovering learning for students takes priority and colleagues are expected to rearrange other activity to progress prioritised work, which may include teaching outside normal teaching times. This will be during the standard teaching hours for the University, which are Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm and during the normal working hours of the individual.  

What is reasonable will depend on individual contractual terms and custom and practice. Consideration should also be given to the potential impact on students and how the cumulative effect of any rearranged plans across their programme might affect them. It is not necessary to replace learning opportunities on a strict like for like basis, but the replacement would need to be deemed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) to be a reasonable alternative if put to them for consideration. Replacement of face-to-face contact with recorded lectures or teaching materials is not considered to be a reasonable alternative by the OIA.

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.

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

ASOS consisting of participating UCU members working only their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more does not broadly constitute a breach of contract or partial performance of duties. Therefore, ASOS in this form will not attract any deduction of pay.  

Participating in ASOS and a boycott of marking and assessment process does constitute a breach of contract or partial performance of duties. The details of deduction are below.  

How is pay deduction calculated if I take part in a boycott of marking and assessment processes?

The University is obliged to communicate the legal position on ASOS, which is that the University does not accept partial performance of the contract of employment and therefore reserves the right to withhold up to 100 per cent of pay should participating in industrial action result in a breach of your contract. The deduction can apply from the date on which the breach commences and continue for the period that the breach continues. 

The University is keen to collaborate with all parties to avoid deductions being necessary and, in this approach, is guided by the principles to: protect the interests of students; retain the cohesion of our community; and protect the standard of Leeds degrees and other qualifications.

The basis of the principles is to mitigate the impact on students whilst respecting the right of staff to participate in industrial action.

The period of deduction will not automatically be continuous. In the unfortunate situation where deductions are applied, the commencement and end date will need to be assessed separately for individuals, depending on the nature of what the action involves/how individuals’ work is impacted. This assessment will be applied considerately and consistently by the University at executive level. 

Deductions will be processed no earlier than the February pay cycle.

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?

February 2023.

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.

Students

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. 

There is a dedicated webpage on the For Students website  with answers to common questions students may have. It also advises them to seek information about their individual timetable from their school. This web page will be regularly updated with new questions throughout the period.