Industrial action information for staff

Information for staff about industrial action.


Latest updates

There is currently no industrial action at Sheffield.

We continue to work with our local trade union colleagues to help make Sheffield a great place to work and study.

Read more about what we're doing

General information

Which trade unions are taking industrial action?

There is currently no industrial action at Sheffield.

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) is balloting its members for action over pay/related matters, with the results expected in early November.

What is the current dispute about?

Nationally, UCU has declared a dispute in national pay negotiation outcomes and working conditions.

Read more about our stance on these national issues

What is the University of Sheffield's view on the national issues?

These are complex matters and the national issues are of concern to us in Sheffield as well as across the higher education sector.  We continue to work closely with our trade union colleagues locally, with the aim of helping to make Sheffield a great place to work and study.

Read more about our work at Sheffield

About industrial action

Who can take part in the industrial action?

Where a mandate for industrial action is obtained and a trade union calls on its members to take industrial action, those trade union members who were balloted are able to participate in industrial action. It is also possible for staff who choose to join that trade union after the ballot to take part in the industrial action.

Trade union members from unions which do not have a mandate for action or which are not calling on their members to take industrial action cannot participate in industrial action.

What is action short of a strike (ASOS)?

ASOS is when trade union members engage in an action that falls short of a full withdrawal of labour, sometimes known as partial performance of the contractual duties.

This can take many forms including a refusal to carry out specific duties or responsibilities.

What is a picket line? Can I cross it? 

During strike action it is possible that picket lines of striking staff might be present around the University campus outside various buildings. Picketing is a lawful activity where staff who support the strike stand outside their normal place of work to inform other staff members why they are striking.  Picketing should be undertaken peacefully and it should not prevent those who are not striking to go to work or continue doing their usual work. 

More information regarding picketing can be found here.

What to do if you want to participate in industrial action

Is there currently an active mandate for industrial action at the University?

No, there is currently no active mandate for industrial action, and it is expected that all staff are working and delivering the full requirements of their role (unless on leave).

Who should I inform if I decide to participate in industrial action?

If you participate in the strike action, you must complete a strike notification form.

You must complete and submit the notification form to your Head of Department on the first day you are back at work following the end of the strike action. 

What if there is no active mandate for industrial action?

If there is no active mandate, all staff should be working and, delivering the full requirements of their role (unless on leave).

Heads of Department can ask colleagues who participated to make up work that was missed due to the industrial action. For example, by rescheduling teaching or completing marking.

Colleagues may be asked to prioritise teaching and marking over, for example, research activity - consideration should be given to workloads of individuals when organising this.

Working during industrial action

What work should I prioritise during the industrial action?

Our aim during industrial action is to minimise the impact on students. For this reason, we ask all staff to prioritise, where possible, student-facing activities.

I am not taking part in the industrial action and have been asked by my manager to cover for a colleague who is taking industrial action, is this ok?

During industrial action, all staff are asked to prioritise student facing activities, which may mean departments may require flexibility in what work is undertaken to enable this. You should only be asked to undertake any duties which are grade appropriate, and for which you are suitably skilled and/or trained. There may be situations where your manager seeks a level of flexibility in terms of covering duties which fall outside of your normal role.  If you or your manager are unsure what may be deemed reasonable, you are advised to seek HR support.

Can my Head of Department ask me to carry out work that is covered by Action Short of a Strike?

Yes, it is still a reasonable management request for your Head of Department (or line manager) to ask you to do work that is covered by action short of strike. However, if you are refusing to do this work because you are taking action short of strike, you must tell your Head of Department (or line manager) when asked.

Can I work from home or take annual leave during industrial action?

We are aware that many staff are utilising a hybrid working approach, so may already be doing some work from home. However, we wish to ensure that there is adequate cover during periods of industrial action so that we can maintain services as much as possible, provide adequate support for students and reduce any possible impacts on learning and education. Therefore, requests to work from home or to take annual leave might not be agreed during periods of industrial action unless it follows your normal working pattern or in exceptional circumstances.

We acknowledge that there will be circumstances where such requests can, and should, be agreed, and this is not intended to be a blanket ban on people taking time off or working flexibly. Please speak to your manager to determine what will be possible.

Note: If agreements were made before the University received the notification of strike action from the trade unions we expect these agreements to be honoured.

Impacts on pay, pensions and deductions

What will be the impact on my pay if I take part in the strike action?

Participation in strike action will result in a breach of your contract of employment. Consequently, if you choose to take strike action you will have a day’s pay deducted for each day that you are striking. If you choose to take strike action you are required to complete the strike notification form on your first day back at work after taking strike action. The daily rate of pay for calculating pay deductions will be deemed to be 1/365th of annual salary for a full-time employee, pro-rata for part-time staff. Graduate Teaching Assistants who take action will not be paid for any of the hours of work they were scheduled to undertake.

The University’s principles and approach to pay deductions are available here. The withholding of pay is without prejudice to any other right or remedy which the University has in relation to staff who participate in industrial action, including any claim for damages for breach of contract.

What will be the impact on pay if I take Action Short of a Strike?

The University’s principles and approach to pay deductions will govern how the University manages situations of dispute resolution including those involving industrial action.

If UCU members take the following forms of ASOS, there should be no breach of contract, as they will still be undertaking their full contractual duties - where this is the case, there will be no deduction from pay:

  • Working to contract
  • Not undertaking voluntary activities
  • Not covering for absent colleagues
  • Removing uploaded materials relating to and/or not sharing materials related to lectures or classes that will or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • Not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
When will pay deductions for industrial action be made?

Withheld pay for participating in industrial action will be taken in the next available payroll.

How will strike pay deductions appear on my payslip?

Your payslip will show a deduction for the total days of industrial action that will be processed in that month. The deduction will appear coded as either:

  • ‘Strike pay adj’ - Strike pay deductions where you have requested that pension contributions are maintained.
  • ‘Strike pay TNP’ - Strike pay deductions where you have requested that pension contributions are not maintained.
What happens to pay withheld from staff participating in industrial action?

Pay deducted from those taking industrial action will remain in departmental budgets. It may be used to mitigate or remedy the impacts of the strike action, in particular any impact on student learning opportunities and objectives.

I am a GTA/casual worker and I want to take part in the industrial action. What will be the impact on my pay?

Casual workers and GTAs who plan on withdrawing their labour in support of the industrial action will not be paid for any work missed on those days. 

GTAs and casual workers who participate in the industrial action should complete the strike notification form and should not claim hours that they had planned/been scheduled to work.

What will be the impact on my USS pension where pay deductions are applied?

The default position will be that the University will pay the employer’s contribution as though you have worked on each strike day and will deduct any employee’s contributions you would normally pay (including any additional contributions), based on the full notional pensionable pay you would have earned had you not taken industrial action. This will mean USS membership will not be affected during the strike period.

If you do not want your normal USS pension contributions to be deducted, you must indicate this on your strike notification form. Please note that in this situation you will not accrue pension benefits for that period. 

We can confirm however that for the period of the currently stated strike days, USS has put in place arrangements for death in service and ill health cover to remain in place where full contributions are not maintained.

I am a GTA/casual worker and I can’t do my work as someone I was supporting has not turned up due to strike action, what happens to my pay?

You will be paid for the hours you were due to work on that day. You will need to inform your departmental contact who will process the hours for payroll as per the normal process. 

You may be asked instead to undertake alternative, grade appropriate tasks for which you are suitably skilled and/or trained to undertake at the time you were previously scheduled to work.


I’m an international member of staff. Will taking part in strike action have an impact on my Tier 2/Skilled Worker sponsorship?

Tier 2 and Skilled Worker visa holders will not be penalised for some absences from paid work in the UK, which includes engaging in legal strike action.  This means that a Tier 2 / Skilled Worker visa holder's leave to remain will not be affected if such absences cause their salary to fall below the required threshold.

I’m an international staff member with a family visa. Will taking part in strike action have an impact on my visa?

There is no specific impact for someone on a family visa under Appendix FM in taking part in strike action. However, if you are extending your family visa or applying for indefinite leave to remain please be aware that the UKVI has an eligibility criteria around proof of income. This can be met in various ways, including combined employment income of you and your partner over a period of time specified by the Home Office. The immigration rules and guidance do not permit  any reduction in this figure on the grounds of taking part in strike action.

Further information about the required proof of income can be found on UK Visa & Immigration web pages.

Health, safety and wellbeing

How do you support staff during the industrial action?

During industrial action, your Head of Department, or their nominated deputy, should be in touch with information on action, and support for you. Please speak to them, or your immediate line manager, if you have any questions or concerns. You can also email

The staff wellbeing webpages offer a number of routes for general support.

Do we require a departmental health and safety representative and a trained first aider during strike action?

There is no legal requirement for a departmental health and safety representative. If your trained first aider is on strike or absent and your department requires first aid response, please call security control (ext 4444)  who will provide first aid response as needed.

Learning and teaching

I plan to flip all my teaching online during strike days - is this okay?

Please speak to your Head of Department in the first instance. Moving teaching online will depend upon the nature of the session, and for laboratory and practical sessions this may not be appropriate. With classroom based teaching we encourage Heads of Department to take pragmatic decisions based on local circumstances.  We would however strongly encourage engagement with the student body in determining these, to ensure that their views and preferences are taken into account.

Contact us

If you have any further queries please email