Human Resources

UCU industrial action

UPDATE 25th September 2023: Strike action called off

Strike action scheduled for this week, week commencing 25 September 2023, by the University and College Union (UCU) has been called off locally. National strike action continues at a number of other universities. 

We are committed to working in partnership with our recognised trade unions and we are pleased that the local UCU strike action has now been called off. 

UPDATE 15th September 2023: Strike Action

University and College Union (UCU) has announced strike action from Monday 25 – Friday 29 September 2023. Sussex is one of 140 universities where UCU members will be taking strike action over pay and working conditions as part of a sustained period of national industrial action.

We recognise that no-one decides to take industrial action lightly and we respect people’s right to strike to improve pay and working conditions. We are also aware that in these financially challenging times, pay is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

However, at Sussex, like other universities, we are bound by a national collective bargaining agreement. We are also conscious that at Sussex we sought to influence the national negotiations as illustrated by our joint statement with our local UCU.

As you will appreciate, the University Executive is working closely with the Student Experience division and colleagues in Schools to minimise disruption to the start of the new academic year for our students.

We remain committed to working collaboratively with you all to improve our employment practices and working conditions for all staff. We are keen to continue to work with our three recognised campus trade unions, Unite, UNISON and UCU to achieve this, as we did over 16 weeks to reach a joint agreement on a number of issues relating to pay and working conditions. We will be updating you shortly on our progress with the 16 week agreement.

Please see the Industrial Action FAQs page for further information. 

IMPORTANT UPDATE: 11th September 2023

Last week UCU called off its marking and assessment boycott with immediate effect. With the boycott now over, the priority is to mark and assess the work of our students that remains outstanding as soon as possible. All outstanding marking and assessment should now be completed by 12 noon on Monday 2 October. If you have participated in the boycott and all your outstanding marking is complete by this deadline, or you have declared yourself available to mark and complete any marking assigned to you by that date, all salary deductions for your participation in the boycott will be returned in the October or November payroll.

In addition, any member of staff, including Tutors, who has not yet declared their participation in the Marking and Assessment Boycott for A2 and/or A3 are required to declare their participation by 5pm on Monday 18 September 2023 via the University’s online declaration form or by emailing

IMPORTANT UPDATE: 2nd August 2023

As per the email sent to staff on 2 August 2023, the University has reviewed its policy on withholding pay during the on-going marking & assessment boycott (M&AB) and has decided to cap the number of days of pay deduction to 10 (at 25%) for the A3 assessment period. This is in addition to the cap of 50 days for the A2 assessment period. For any further assessment periods there will be further deductions at a rate to be determined. Further advice will be issued about any future changes to deductions as appropriate.

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. You will need to make a separate declaration for the A3 marking period, whether or not you have already made a declaration forhte A2 period.

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.