Human Resources

Industrial action FAQs

Get answers to questions about the industrial action taking place in October 2023.

When is the stike action taking place?

Unison strike action will be taking place for two days on Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd October 2023.

Will members of staff get paid on strike?

No. Strike action, as a matter of law, involves a breach of an individual’s contract. Consequently, if you decide to take part in strike action, you will not be entitled to your contractual pay for the strike days. Pay will be withheld at the rate of 1/365 of annual salary for each day of action, pro rata for part-time staff, and adjustments to pay will be made in the September payroll. You should declare the days you were on strike using the electronic declaration form  by 5pm on Thursday 12th October 2023. Deductions will be made in the October payroll.

How will we know who is taking strike action?

Unison members at the University of Sussex have a lawful mandate for action. Unison members who wish to join the strike action are not obliged to tell the University in advance if they intend to take industrial action, but they are required subsequently to inform us they have taken strike action so that appropriate deductions can be made from pay. 

Do I have to notify the University if I have taken strike action?

Yes, you do. You must complete the University’s  electronic declaration form to confirm the date(s) on which you took strike action by 5pm on Thursday 12th October 2023. Deductions will be made in the October payroll.

Are part-time staff required to notify about strike action in the same way?

Yes, part-time staff are required to notify the University in the same way as full-time members of staff, making a declaration for each day of strike action. Payroll will be aware of employees’ varying contracts and will work with Heads of School and Divisional Directors to clarify any issues prior to pay being deducted.

What is the impact for members of other unions and non-union staff?

Only Unsion have a mandate for lawful strike action on 2nd and 3rd October 2023 and so members of other recognised University unions should work normally on those days. Members of staff who are not a member of any union (‘non-union members’) also have a legal right to strike if they wish to. Any member of staff who participates in strike action must ensure that they complete the electronic declaration form so that appropriate deductions can be made for each day that they do not work.

What will be the impact on our operations?

The University recognises that the strike action will be disruptive. However, our aim is to minimise any disruption and in so far as it is possible to avoid any detriment arising to our students.

Will the University remain open as normal during the strike action?

Yes. The University will operate as normally as possible.

Can annual leave be taken during the strike or as an alternative to going on strike?

Annual leave must not be used as a substitute for participating in industrial action. Any annual leave that has already been approved and booked on scheduled strike days will be honoured. However, no further annual leave will be permitted on the scheduled strike days for any member of staff, to enable planning for any potential disruption to take place, except in exceptional circumstances.

I am not taking strike action and usually work on campus on the days the strike action is planned. Can I work from home?

If you usually work from home on a day that the strike action is to take place, then you can do so as normal. If you do not usually work from home on a day that the strike action is to take place and you wish to do so, you should seek and gain prior approval from your manager. Your manager may have to consider the overall situation and the need to provide a level of campus presence on strike days in order to provide face-to-face information and support to students, so the option of working from home should not be assumed. If a member of staff decides not to work normally, as agreed with their line manager, wherever their working location may be, this should be declared as participation in strike action via notification on the electronic declaration form. Managers may ask colleagues to clarify if they have participated in strike action or if they are unclear about an individual’s status on a strike day.

What will be the impact on pension of any strike action?

Members of staff will not be entitled to their contractual pay for strike days. The University will maintain employer pension contributions during strike days. Death in service benefits will also be maintained.

What will happen to flexible benefits for those that participate in industrial action and see an impact on their contractual pay?

Deductions to any flexible benefits will continue as normal.

Are non-striking members of staff expected to cover work that would usually be done by those taking strike action?

To minimise the impact that this action may have on our students’ welfare and their academic progress, duties may be reallocated amongst available staff, as required. Managers must also ensure that any redistribution of work is done in a fair and equitable way.

Can staff be required to work additional hours during the strike action as a direct consequence of the industrial action - how will they be compensated?

Industrial action may require some staff to take on additional duties. Where the duties are clearly additional and not part of the normal expected role, existing policies will apply. In summary, these are that additional hours for staff in grades 1-6 may be addressed first by time off in lieu or overtime for hours worked in excess of normal full-time hours. Payment of any overtime must be agreed in advance and should only occur if TOIL is not viable.

What is the position on crossing the official picket line?

Picket lines are permitted by law (recommended limit per picket line is 6) and must operate peacefully. They may not inhibit or obstruct free movement. You are entitled to come to work normally, and the picket line must not obstruct you from doing so. The University recognises that a period of industrial action is difficult for everyone involved. The University is committed to maintaining safety and well-being of all its staff in this period. We hope that all involved will act at all times with respect in both words and action. However, if you choose not to cross the picket line and have not agreed with your manager that you will work from home (and are not absent from work for an authorised reason), you will be deemed to have participated in the strike and will be expected to complete the electronic declaration form, which will result in a deduction from pay.

Can others (non-UNISON members) join an official picket line?

The law on picketing is clear that it can only be undertaken by a worker employed by the University, a worker who has lost their job for a reason connected to the dispute or if they are a union official picketing with members they personally represent.

Will buses and trains be running as normal?

Buses will be travelling to the University throughout the industrial action. 

We expect that buses will not enter campus between 6.30am and 3pm on strike days. Between 6.30am and 3pm (in other words, in the mornings and until early afternoon) buses are likely to stop just outside campus on the A27 slip road and then near Falmer Station.

Find out more about service updates. We suggest you allow more time than usual to get to campus by bus.

Trains are due to run as normal on strike days.
Will there be an accessible minibus?

A wheelchair accessible minibus will be provided on strike days between 9:30am and 3:30pm. The minibus will largely use the campus bus stops and will travel around the campus every 30 minutes.

The bus is free to use and can be accessed by anyone with access needs. Please show your sunflower / red lanyard or Helping Hands cards etc. if your disability is less obvious

Information for Tier 2 and 5 visa holders


For staff on Tier 2/ Skilled worker and Tier 5 visas, do periods of unpaid work shilst participating in industrial action count as exceptions under the rules for unpaid leave? 

Yes, unpaid leave is permitted where it is part of legally organised industrial action. Any unpaid leave which is due to participating in industrial action will not be counted towards the usual maximum four weeks permitted unpaid leave per calendar year.

Even though (as detailed below) the University is required to report to UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) any significant change in salary arising from participation in industrial action, the Univeristy is not required to stop sponsoring you as a result of this.

Will deduction from salary for industrial action participation adn ASOS require reporting to UKVI?

Yes, it amounts to significant chages to your salary from that stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).  However, please note we are not required to stop sponsorign you as a result of a significant change in salary arising from your participation in industrial action.

If you have a Tier 2/Skilled Worker or Tier 5 visa, we advise you to familiarise yourself with both your CoS and the salary thresholds that relate to your SOC code. If you require further information abou this, please contact Bethany King in the HR Compliance Team.

What are the University's usual reporting obligations in repect of Tier 2/Skilled Worker and Tier 5 visa holders?

The University has reporting obligations with UKVI for staff on Tier 2/Skilled Worker and Tier 5 visas. These cover instances of non-attendance, non-compliance with visa or immigration conditions, disappearance or significant changes in circumstances. Reporting by the University must happen within 10 working days of occurring, so that the appropriate action may be taken.

As a reminder the University must report a) any absence from work without pay that is 4 weeks or more, unless such absence is covered by an exception detailed in paragraph S4.13 of the guidance published by the Home Office; b) any absence from work that is 10 or more consecutive working days without permission, and; c) a significant change in circumstances including, for example, a change in salary from that which is stated on the CoS guidance (para S4.14).

What if I have a question that is not answered above?

Please email your question to 


Strike declaration form

Declare your participation in the Unison strike action.