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The Universities Guidance  on Leave and Working Arrangements for Staff during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

Information on UCU’s response to the Covid-19 emergency.

UCU Guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Joint statement of the University of Bath and the University of Bath branch of the University & College Union

Dear Colleagues,

I hope everyone is safe and holding up during this strange and difficult time. A brief email with some important updates:

Deductions for Strike Action

In her recent communication, Jo Grady, the UCU General Secretary wrote:

“Some employers seem to be waking up to the fact that they cannot keep exploiting our goodwill, in this or any other situation. In the past few days, King’s College London, Birkbeck, St. Andrew’s, Southampton and Ulster have all agreed to waive or suspend their planned deductions of pay from staff who took strike action in February and March. Now is the time to ask your branch to make the same request to your employer – it is the least employers should be doing to recognise the efforts which staff are making to respond to the pandemic”

What is the local situation?

Tuesday last week, Bath UCU made such a request “as a gesture of goodwill at a difficult time as staff face increased demands”. The response we received was negative, that “The University has considered this, but plans to retain its existing policy of making deductions for those who undertake strike action.” You will have felt the first such deduction in your latest pay packets.


Having been informed that deductions were disappointingly to be taken, branch officers asked that the University to donate the deductions to a specially dedicated fund to support staff on casual, hourly-paid contracts who face losing paid work, or as another alternative, to direct it to local food banks. We noted that our members will be very interested in knowing how deductions will be redistributed and hoped that we could at least have a positive answer there.

We are still waiting for a response and will let you know what it is when we receive it. In the meantime, members in need should look to the recent email from our Treasurer Tim Barrett on applications to the local Hardship fund. Strike deductions will be March: Week 1 & 2 (5 days), April: Week 3 (4 days), May: Week 4 (5 days). I highly recommend putting in claims to the national Fighting Fund as needed.

Raising Funds for local Food Banks

While we wait to hear from the University, members have been in contact looking for ways that Bath UCU could provide support locally to mitigate the impact of Corvid-19 in our community. To this end, taking up the suggestion made above, the committee has decided first of all to ask members, where able, to make a donation to Bath food bank, which has a donations facility online HERE.

This is of course a significant ask for staff who are already faced with pay deductions for strike action, facing increased work demands – not least during an ongoing period of action short of a strike’. But where members are able to offer something, I know it will be greatly appreciated.

Another member has raised the possibility of raising funds for local front-line NHS workers – if anyone has any ideas about how we could provide support, do let me know because as a committee we would 100% support any organisational efforts. To the extent that we can help communicate voluntary activity through our social media accounts in particular, let us know.

Ongoing Discussions

We are awaiting further answers on a number of other topics that we have put to management, including covering additional costs faced by members when working from home and issues of recording overtime for staff on contracts with designated hours. We’ve been told that further guidance will go into an updated Q&A ‘next week’ and as soon as we have more information we will again pass this on.

On Monday, Reps will be meeting with HR to discuss coronavirus issues specifically, including arrangements around the Government’s new coronavirus job retention scheme. Such discussions are not static and it can be difficult to communicate with members as things move along, however where updates are available we will seek to highlight them. But keep an eye on the University’s own advice which is changing frequently as things progress.

On Monday, negotiators will also be in our second meeting focused on the University’s use of fixed-term contracts. The commitments secured in the joint statement between the University and UCU Bath shed a positive light on such talks, but we now need to see senior management put their words into practice. This is particularly true as members on those contracts have stepped up to such a degree in response to the crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, supporting students and each other – we all expect the University to now show support for those staff members also.

best wishes all,


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