Please download the HR Policy on Pay Related to industrial action.
The FAQs below are intended to support this policy, by answering commonly asked questions.
If you have queries not covered in this FAQ, please contact your local HR team in the first instance.
Frequently asked questions
These FAQs will be added to as necessary in the light of developments and new issues that may be raised with HR. The responses set out the University’s formal policy position for clarity and also its practical arrangements in relation to dealing with industrial action, so that staff are clear on the consequences of action taken.
It is important that you read these FAQs carefully.
Yes. Provided that the action proposed is official industrial action lawfully proposed by a trade union that has followed due process before calling upon its members to take action, then as a member of that union, you have the right to participate.
However, any strike action or
action short of strike (such as a marking and assessment boycott) taken without
a union mandate, will be considered unlawful and a breach of contract, which
may subsequently result in formal investigation carried out in accordance with
the Conduct Ordinance.
No. Although knowing who is intending to participate would assist the University to understand the likely impact on students, there is no obligation upon you to notify anyone, in advance, that you are intending to take industrial action of any kind. However, if your Division or HR asks you whether you will be taking strike action or ASOS, it is hoped that you would answer truthfully.
Yes, if asked whether you participated in the strike action, you would be expected to answer truthfully. Not doing so could be a failure to respond to a reasonable management instruction.
If you do take strike action, you should record each day of your participation as an absence on Staff Connect in order that the impact on students can be accurately monitored and so that your pay can be correctly calculated. Individuals should ensure that they are only recording the strike days and not any non-strike days or weekends, otherwise non-strike days may be deducted in error.
Staff are required to do this in a timely way, ideally no later than your earliest opportunity on your return to work following strike action. This will also act as your consent for the University to maintain your pension contributions (see question 8).
If you do not record your participation in this way, the University may in any event record you as participating in the action if the evidence supports this.
You are required to record your participation so that the University can accurately monitor the impact on students by completing the appropriate form.
If asked whether you are taking ASOS, you would be expected to answer truthfully. Not doing so could be a failure to respond to a reasonable management instruction.
Yes, unless you are a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) or Graduate Secondary Teaching Scheme student (GSTS). All members of staff participating in strike action will be in breach of their contract and, with the exception of GTAs and GSTSs, will have their pay withheld by the University for each day of their participation in the strike action. For salaried staff, this is calculated as 1/365th of the annual salary for each day of participation. It is expected that staff who are paid on timesheets will not submit a claim for days when they are on strike. For those on Guaranteed Minimum Hours (GMH) contracts, any hours that are not worked due to strike action will be counted against and deducted from the GMH contract for that period such that the contractual guaranteed hours for that period will be reduced.
The University’s long-standing policy is that pay withheld as a result of staff taking industrial action will not be repaid to those staff after the dispute is concluded.
Marking and assessment activities are a key requirement of the delivery of education to our students, therefore a refusal to complete such tasks is likely to have a significant impact. It’s the University’s duty to ensure students’ education is not unduly disrupted by industrial action and so it is reasonable that pay should be withheld from those participating in the boycott. The University rejects partial performance and reserves the right to deduct 100% of pay. Instead, the University will make an effective deduction of 50% for every calendar day of participation (this will be via a 100% deduction partly offset by a 50% ex gratia payment for other duties carried out on a voluntary basis). Deductions will be on the basis of 1/365th of annual salary for each day of participation.
It has been decided that no deductions will be made for other forms of ASOS. However, the University will continue to assess the impact on students and reserves the right to change this approach.
Deductions for participation in the marking and assessment boycott will be made a month in arrears. Deductions for participation in strike action recorded via Staff Connect will be made in the next available month’s payroll, or in a subsequent month’s payroll (depending on when it is recorded).
For action recorded before:
18 September, the deduction will be in September’s payroll.
18 October, the deduction will be October’s payroll.
Please note, unlike other forms of leave, strike days do not
need to be authorised. If your manager enters strike days on your behalf, you
will receive a system notification of this.
The University will maintain both Employer and Employee Pension Contributions to the USS and SAUL pension schemes during the current period of industrial action where you give your consent to our making payments on your behalf by recording your absence in Staff Connect in a timely manner, normally in the first available payroll. In this scenario your pensionable service will also be maintained.
Where you do not give your consent by recording your absence in Staff Connect, the USS will maintain your Death in Service cover and you will be able to make up your Employee Contributions and therefore maintain your pensionable service at a later date*. The University will continue to make its Employer Contributions on your behalf but you will need to make the employee contribution.
If you have any questions about the potential implications of taking industrial action on your pension you should approach your UCU representative.
As stated in Q3 above, 100% of your pay will be deducted for the days you are on strike, calculated as 1/365th of your actual annual part-time salary. However, if you have a work pattern where your work is unevenly spread across your working days, the deduction for strike days can be made pro-rata, if your pattern would have fewer hours on that day. If you are part time and wish to have your strike pay deductions calculated in this way, please complete a declaration of hours form and submit it to your manager, keeping your own copy.
Part-time staff will be expected to reschedule activities missed due to strike action and to provide cover for absent colleagues, in line with normal contract terms. In exceptional circumstances, and in agreement with the relevant Director, part-time staff may be offered the opportunity to work extra hours for which additional payments will be made.
Recognising the difficulty of securing and maintaining places for childcare, the University of Kent will not seek to make any adjustments in respect of either of these benefits, for which an employee’s salary has contractually been exchanged, and will maintain them until further notice.
This approach may change and the University could commence recovery of the cost of childcare from a future date, and with immediate effect, should it choose to do so or should circumstances change.
The standard working week for academic, research and professional services staff in grades 7+ is 35 hours (or as stipulated in the contract for part-time staff). Staff are expected to work flexibly to complete their duties, recognising that teaching and other on campus activities normally take place between 09:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday, although occasional weekend working may be required. Working practices should be in accordance with work/life balance guidance and, in accordance with the Working time Regulation 1998, working time should not exceed a maximum of 48 hours per week.
Only those activities that go
beyond what a member of staff would be reasonably expected to undertake in the
normal course of their duties should be considered to be voluntary and not part
of the contractual duties. Therefore, the University has a reasonable
expectation that all academic staff will take part in activities set out within
the Academic Career Map and other duties appropriate to their role at the
University such as department meetings and Open/Applicant Days.
It may not always be immediately apparent to you whether a particular activity or duty is contractual or voluntary and, if your manager feels that you are in breach of your contract, they have been advised to talk to HR first before discussing with you (where this may be necessary).
If in any doubt about whether a particular activity should be regarded as voluntary for the purposes of this industrial action, you are also advised to seek advice from UCU.
UCU has declared ASOS in the form
of UCU members 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. Any other form of ASOS not included above
would be outside of this notification and would therefore not be considered to
form part of the lawful industrial action.
Yes, your manager (or their nominee) can ask you to undertake certain activities in preference to others, in order to safeguard the student experience. This may mean being asked to postpone research-based activity and focus on exam preparation instead, for example.
The delivery of classes or lectures is a key requirement of the academic contract of employment** and so a refusal to reschedule missed classes during normal working time would be a breach of contract and is likely to have a significant impact on our students.
It is the University’s prerogative to direct and prioritise employees’ work and its duty to ensure students’ education is not unduly disrupted. It is therefore reasonable for the University to ask all academic staff whether they took strike action or not, to prioritise the rescheduling of work missed due to strike action, including cancelled lectures and classes, after the end of the industrial action.
The sharing of materials relating to lectures and classes, for example via Moodle or Kent Player, is a key requirement of the delivery of education to our students and a refusal to share would have a significant impact on our students. It is the University’s duty to ensure students’ education is not unduly disrupted and it is therefore reasonable for the University to ask academic staff to make their lecture and class materials available to other colleagues and students.
Providing that we can help you with any workload issues and reprioritise other duties and it is an area of work that you are familiar with/is commensurate with your role, it would be a reasonable request of you to undertake such work, taking into account the risks relating to students and the need to work together to reduce anxieties and continue to provide a service.
If you are not confident in informing your students of your participation in the action, if you notify the University in advance of taking action, then your Division will ensure that your students receive communication about this.
If you do not give the University advance notice of your participation, the University will not be in a position to tell individual students whether or not they will be personally affected (this is because the University does not have trade union members’ details and not all trade union members will participate in the action). Inevitably individuals will be faced with students who will question whether or not their lecturers are participating in the action, and what the impact on them will be. In handling these communications, and if you are unsure, you should seek advice from your trade union representative.
In respect of staff participating in the industrial action, the University will honour any properly authorised annual leave agreements reached prior to 26 January 2023. New leave requests will be considered in the light of the assessed impact on the University’s services of the industrial action and the need to maintain key services.
Anyone who has already booked annual leave on days when they now intend to participate in strike action should amend their Staff Connect record, removing days marked as AL (annual leave) and replacing them with IA (industrial action).
No, simply participating in this action will not lead to disciplinary action. You are reminded that you remain bound by a duty to behave courteously and respectfully to your colleagues, to not spread false/malicious rumours/communication (including through use of social media) concerning the University/your colleagues and to otherwise abide by the University’s policies and regulations including its Dignity at Work Policy and Code of Conduct. Breaches of these standards and policies may still lead to disciplinary processes being activated.
Our trade unions have a very good record at the University in their approach to picketing and there are no difficulties foreseen this time. If you would like more information about picketing, you can refer to BIS Code of Practice on Picketing. Official pickets are expected to comply with this Code in addition to the University’s own policies and procedures. A failure to do so could lead to disciplinary processes being activated.
The electronic declaration process that has been set up takes advantage of the enhanced data security protocols in the new HR and Payroll system, reduces the possibility of errors in keying and will ensure that accurate records are maintained, which will help ensure that any payroll deductions are accurate. It will also allow individual staff members to view their own declaration history in Staff Connect. Please remember that making a timely declaration will ensure that the University covers your pension contribution.
The University will welcome the support of all staff in helping to minimise the adverse impact of the industrial action on our students and on the functioning and reputation of the University and will take a view after the period of industrial action regarding any appropriate recognition arrangements.
Yes. Although there will be no deductions of pay for GTAs or GSTSs who participate in the industrial action, you are asked to record your absence due to strike action in Staff Connect so that the impact of the action on students can be accurately monitored.
Yes. As an hourly-paid lecturer, you are asked to record your absence due to strike action in Staff Connect so that the impact of the action on students can be accurately monitored. However this is not a requirement. In addition, although you should not submit a time sheet for hours you would otherwise have worked on days when you are on strike, if you wish the University to maintain your pension contributions then you should complete a declaration of hours form to record the hours you were scheduled to work and to give consent to the University maintaining your contributions. One copy of this form should be retained by the member of staff and the other should be submitted to your Division or Department.
In the case of HPLs, claims should still be submitted for the associated preparation and marking (where this work has been completed) in accordance with the relevant payments menu.
If you change your mind, or in the event that action ends sooner than planned, after you have entered your absence on Staff Connect, it will be your responsibility to make any amendments to that record either in the event that you decide not to participate on any strike day or that the industrial action is ended early. If you do not amend your record before the next monthly payroll cut-off date, your pay will automatically be deducted and you will need to claim reimbursement in the following month’s payroll.
No, you have the legal right to strike irrespective of your visa status. Please consult the other questions in this FAQ for information on your legal rights to take industrial action and action short of strike. For more information, please refer to detailed FAQs on immigration status and strike action.
As an individual’s study leave is recorded already on Staff Connect, the individual will be required to email HRIndustrialAction@kent.ac.uk with the details of what days they have taken strike action. Payroll will then be instructed to make the necessary pay deductions for those days.
Yes – If you were expected to work in more than one contracted role on a day you are taking strike action, you will be required to record your strike absence for each individual post or contract that you would ordinarily have been working.
For example, an individual who has participated in strike action on Wednesday 1 February and who works on one contract in the morning and another in the afternoon would be required to record industrial action leave against both contracts for that day.
Whilst the University will make deductions in line with the payroll schedule, there may be occasions where this is disproportionate (e.g. when reporting out of time means multiple days being deducted in the same month). If this applies to you, please email HRIndustrialAction@Kent.ac.uk in the first instance, setting out the issues and a decision will be made about the deductions being deferred and/or spread over multiple months. The University is not obliged to offer this facility and decisions will be made on the basis of proportionality and fairness.
There is no expectation of anything but peaceful picketing activity and the University has a good relationship with UCU in managing this. In the unlikely event that you encounter an issue that causes concern, you can contact HRIndustrialAction@kent.ac.uk to make a report in the first instance. Please provide as much detail as possible, to enable any necessary investigations. If you feel under immediate threat, please use the SafeZone app to summon Campus Security who will attend to provide assistance as required.
The University considers participation in the marking and assessment boycott as partial performance of duties, which equates to a breach of the employment contract. The University has consistently rejected partial performance of the employment contract and so the appropriate deduction for the marking and assessment boycott would be 100% of pay. However, whilst continuing to reserve the right to deduct 100%, the University will instead make an effective deduction of 50% of pay for every calendar day of participation in the boycott (this will be via a 100% deduction partly offset by a 50% ex gratia payment for other duties carried out on a voluntary basis during the period). For salaried staff, deductions will be on the basis of 1/365th of annual salary for each day of participation in the boycott, which the University considers to be from the date marking was assigned (or day of exam) to the deadline for marking to be submitted by.
The term ex-gratia in this context means that there is no obligation for money to be paid. The tax-free exemption only applies to ex-gratia payments made on termination of employment, ordinarily as compensation for loss of office, which is where the term ex-gratia is commonly used.
The University position is that partial performance is rejected and that pay is withheld at 100%, with a payment equivalent to 50% being made in recognition of any work that has been undertaken. The position therefore is that any discretionary payments related to the marking and assessment boycott are still subject to tax and National Insurance contributions like any other employment related payment.
For each day of participation in the boycott, payment will be withheld based on a fraction of the annual salary, at a rate of 1/365th per day. For continuous action, payment will continue to be withheld for each day inclusive of weekends should they fall between the submission/exam date to the marking deadline. While weekends are inclusive for periods of continuous action, payment will not be withheld for a time period greater than the individuals contractual (average) weekly working hours.
Example: for a full-time member of staff with a contract which states an average of 35 hours work per week, payment would be withheld for the equivalent of 5 hours per day across the 7-day week (35 hours in total) - an ex-gratia payment would then be made for the equivalent of 50% of earnings for the same participation period.
Payment will not be withheld for annual leave, bank holidays or other forms of leave (properly recorded and authorised on StaffConnect).
* For technical reasons, individuals wishing to make up their Employee Pension Contributions will need to notify email@example.com before the payroll cut-off date for the month following the month in which the relevant strike action took place.
** The Conditions of Service for Academic and Research Staff state that, “It shall be the duty of every member of the Academic and Research Staff to devote himself/herself to the advancement of knowledge in his/her subject, and to give instruction therein within the University. He/she shall also do all in his/her power to promote the objects of the University as defined in the Charter, which are to advance education and disseminate knowledge by teaching, scholarship and research for the public benefit.”