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What to say to HR

The letter we have all had from the Director of HR asks us to tell him by 12th November if you are or will be taking part in the assessment boycott, and to say which forms of action you are or will be taking.   The simple guidance from UCU is to respond as follows:

I intend to support the UCU assessment and marking boycott but will not be doing so until x date when I have scheduled work to do which is included in the boycott. I will not be engaged in marking every day after that date. Please note that I would have expected all the work I can currently anticipate and which is covered by the boycott to have been completed by x date.

This answer is simple enough, you just need to fill in the dates

Bath UCU has produced a template response based on national guidance that also includes an objection to the secrecy surrounding the University of Bath’s position on the proposed changes to USS.


Local FAQs:
Do I HAVE to tell HR if I am participating in the boycott ?

Yes you do once the national action begins. They are lawfully entitled to assume if no response that you are participating in the action continuously from 6 November.  Failing to respond to a reasonable request would also be a disciplinary issue.

Why should I let them know what my plans are for the future (eg when my marking starts) ? 

The response provided in the template above is the best way to ensure members lose the minimum amount of money. We formulated it during the 2014 pay dispute having reviewed the various HEI approaches. However it does not guarantee that members will not be continuously docked –  the employers are entitled to do this even if many choose not to.

I am being called on to take action before other members – will this mean I lose more pay than them ?

Possibly.  Three scenarios are:

  • I have continuous marking that starts earlier than other members.
  • I have a one -off activity such as exam board, setting an exam or a PhD transfer and then nothing until January.
  • Assessment makes up a smaller part of my job than others

Ways of dealing with this:

  • Many of us leave all our marking until very close to the deadline for returning the work.   The date you enter on the response should take this into account.

The 25% figure is arbitrary.  It could be 0% (as at SOAS and a few other places) or 100% as at Liverpool (sign their petition here).

In all cases there is a national and a local hardship fund that will be used to make up lost earnings, including for hourly paid staff.  Details will be circulated in the next few days.

Some/all of my post is externally funded – will I be deducted 25% on ALL of my pay ?

HR have already responded to queries about this by saying that deductions will only apply to that part of pay funded by the university.  The template letter above has a section where you can raise this issue with HR.

 When I tell HR I am participating in the boycott should I say I want to fund my pension contribution at full pay during the period that I continue to participate in this action


I am being bullied by someone with authority over me into doing work that is covered by the boycott

This is happening a lot.   For an overview see the Institute of Employment Rights.  If you are treated in a threatening way because of your participation in the boycott please contact one of the branch officers as soon as possible.

Members might also want to see the response to HR from ex-UCU President Steve Wharton, now deputy head of POLIS.

Please not the meeting of the USS action committee for departmental reps and contacts MONDAY 17th NOVEMBER 1.15 pm 1E2.4.  A chance to catch up and deal with emerging issues.


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