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University of Exeter Policy on withholding of pay during industrial action

Policy on pay during industrial action

Taking part in industrial action is a breach of your contract of employment.

The University is entitled to withhold pay of staff who breach their contract of employment by participating in industrial action, whether in the form of strike action or action short of a strike.

In the event of a strike, the University will withhold 1/365 of your annual salary for each day of strike action. The University will not re-instate any pay which has been withheld once the employee resumes their full contractual duties.

In the event of a strike of less than a whole day's duration, the University reserves the right to withhold a whole day's pay (ie 1/365 of your annual salary). However, at its discretion, the University may decide to withhold a smaller sum for any specific strike without prejudice to its right to withhold a whole day's pay for any subsequent strikes of less than a whole day's duration. The University will not re-instate any pay which has been withheld once the employee resumes their full contractual duties.

UCU Strikes, November 2022

Immediately on your return to work you should use the report your participation in the strike using the online Strike Action Form in iTrent Self Service. You should do this no later than by 10am on the first day of your return to work. For guidance on how to enter the days you have been on strike see iTrent Guide to recording strike days

If you take part in the UCU strike action on Thursday 24 November, Friday 25 November and Wednesday 30 November 2022, the University will withhold 1/365 of your pay for each day you are on strike. 

Postgraduate Teaching Associates who participate in strike action should follow the instructions in the Frequently Asked Questions.

Adjustments to pay will be applied in the January 2023 pay period. 

Alternative arrangements will be applied to any staff members who leave the University in December 2022.

The University will not accept the partial performance of the contract of any member of staff. This means that if you decide to take part in action short of a strike by refusing to undertake part of your contractual responsibilities, you would consequently not be entitled to your contractual pay from the date when you started to participate in the action.

The University's policy not to accept partial performance means that if you breach your contract of employment by refusing to fulfil your contractual duties in full then the University reserves the right not to pay you for any other work you voluntarily choose to do while participating in the action short of a strike.

Where such a breach of contract does occur the University reserves the right to withhold 100% of pay, at a daily rate of 1/365 of annual salary, and to continue to withhold pay until the employee resumes their contractual duties in full. The University will not re-instate any pay which has been withheld once the employee resumes their full contractual duties.

However, based on an assessment by the University of the impact of a specific action short of a strike, the University may decide to withhold a smaller sum, proportional to this impact, for a specified period, without prejudice to its right to withhold 100% of pay for any subsequent action short of a strike. The specified period will be determined by the University based on an assessment of when the continued action short of a strike will begin to have a very serious impact on students and the University. At this point in time the University would then withhold 100%. If, during the specified period of time when a smaller sum was withheld, the action short of a strike escalated and the impact seriously increased, the University would then withhold 100%.

The University reserves the right to withhold pay while you are participating in the action short of a strike. However, the University will be reasonable and proportionate in the way we approach the withholding of pay for anyone who is participating in action short of a strike. We know that as a community we all share a deep commitment to student learning.

UCU Industrial Action, Autumn 2022

If you are participating in the UCU action short of a strike and you complete the priority activities following the timescale set out in the communications sent by the University (see Director of HR's email of Monday 21 November 2022), the University will not withhold any pay for breach of contract for action short of a strike. If you do not complete the priority activities in accordance with the timescale set out in these communications, then the University will withhold 25% of each day's pay from Monday 19 December 2022 until the priority activities are completed.

In cases of a strike (or action short of a strike) where a whole’s day’s pay is withheld, this may lead to a loss of pensionable service for each day of the strike.

This means that the University is not obliged to pay pension contributions where pay is withheld for participating in a strike 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 will continue to count as pensionable service.

UCU Industrial Action Autumn 2022

For the UCU industrial action starting on 24 November 2022, the University have decided that option (c) above will apply.
Pension contributions will continue to be paid by both the employee and the employer based on your pay before
any withholding of pay due to strike (or action short of a strike). This means that the period of strike action will
count towards your pension benefits. The University reserves the right to review this arrangement if further industrial action takes place in 2023.


Date of this version – 20 November 2022