Human Resources

Industrial action for Sussex staff

Find out what industrial action means for members of staff at the University.

The University and College Union (UCU) has notified the University of Sussex that it is calling on its members to take Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) in the form of a marking and assessment boycott on a continuous basis from Thursday 20 April 2023. We appreciate that the majority of staff will be continuing to work normally, and we thank you for your continued contribution. However, some staff will be exercising their legal right to take industrial action in relation to the ongoing national dispute with UCU about pay, and terms and conditions.

How will students and staff be affected?

Depending on your role you may not be directly affected by the marking and assessment boycott. Likewise, some students will experience little or no disruption as a result of the boycott. For those who are impacted, we will be doing everything possible to support students and their education, and to ensure that they are able to graduate as planned.

Our focus has been, and will continue to be, on minimising the disruption to our students and their learning outcomes.

What to do if you choose to take action

If you choose to participate in the marking and assessment boycott, then you are required to notify the University on or after 20 April 2023 that you are participating in the action, and the date on which your marking and assessment duties start, on the electronic declaration form. The date your participation starts is the date that you are required to undertake any marking and assessment duties but choose not to do so, i.e. when you have the activity to undertake, such as the date exam scripts are available (rather than the date you would have chosen to start marking the scripts, or the date the marks are to be submitted). You may be contacted to verify your declared start date.

The University does not accept the partial performance of the contract of any member of staff. This means that if you are not willing to perform your full contractual duties, for example by not carrying out the marking and assessment duties that are required as part of your role, you will consequently not be entitled to your contractual pay. Any work that you do undertake during this period will therefore be on a voluntary basis.

Will pay be withheld for participation in the marking and assessment boycott?

There is no legal obligation to pay any salary in these circumstances. However, until further notice, the University has decided to make an ex-gratia payment of 75% of normal salary (see below). The University will continue to review the impact of the boycott and reserves the right to change the level of ex-gratia payment, or to stop any further ex-gratia payments. We will inform staff and UCU should this situation occur.

As the ASOS notified by UCU is continuous, participants in the marking and assessment boycott will be paid at 75% of salary (or a lower amount subject to ongoing review by the University as set out above). This will be paid as an ex-gratia payment on a continuous basis from either 20 April 2023 or the date that participants declare that their marking duties started, if later, until the period of ASOS, or their participation in it, ends.

If you have already made a declaration that you are taking part in the marking and assessment boycott but wish to stop participating and resume marking and assessment duties, you should send an email to confirming that this is the case and the date that you are ready and willing to resume marking and assessment duties. Subject to confirmation from your School, your normal contractual pay will be reinstated from that date.

We appreciate that all our staff are committed to our students and ask that staff taking part in industrial action liaise with their managers in order to help minimise the overall impact on students and their learning outcomes as a result of the action.

Support available

We recognise any period of industrial action is difficult for everyone involved. As with previous periods of industrial action, the University will be working to ensure that our students’ education and learning outcomes are not disadvantaged whilst respecting our colleagues’ right to take lawful action. We will provide the space for different views and decisions, while maintaining a culture of dignity and respect. If you would like additional support, visit our wellbeing hub.