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Industrial Action - Marking and Assessment Boycott

Flowerbeds by the Chapel

Updated: 14th August 2023

Guidance for Staff during Industrial Action April 2023

The following Q&As are in relation to the specific Industrial Action notified to the University in April 2023. They are intended as a guide for staff during the legal industrial action and they will be updated from time to time to amend guidance or include new information as appropriate. If you have further questions you should speak to your line manager or Personnel contact.

What action has been called?

Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) members will be taking part in further action short of strike (ASOS) from Thursday 20 April 2023 until the end of September 2023. This is in response to ongoing disputes over pay and working conditions.

What form will any UCU action short of a strike take?

Any action short of a strike may consist of:

  • A marking and assessment boycott.
  • Working to contractual duties and not undertaking any voluntary activities.
  • Not covering for absent colleagues.
  • Not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action.
  • Removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action.

What dates will the action take place on?

The action Short of Strike is intended to be continuous from 20 April 2023 and will run until the end of September 2023.

If I participate in ASOS, will my pay be withheld?

It is the policy of Liverpool Hope University to withhold the pay of staff who participate in industrial action that amounts to a breach of contract, please see the Industrial Action Policy

While the University always reserves this right, we will not be withholding salary at this time in respect of participation in the action short of strike action detailed above save for participation in a marking and assessment boycott.

Any future decisions to withhold pay for ASOS excluding marking and assessment boycott will be informed by the impact ASOS has on our students and the level of disruption to their education and staff will be written to in advance with the detail.

If I participate in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) how will the University know I am taking part?

Colleagues have received written correspondence outlining how the University will record participation in MAB. A copy of the letter is available here: ASOS letter to academic staff

The correspondence clearly explains the University’s position in relation to the withholding of pay for any days of strike or ASOS action, where this amounts to partial performance, and therefore a breach of contact.

Pay Implications for participating in the Marking Assessment Boycott

The university does not accept partial performance and anyone who participates in the MAB will be in breach of their contract of employment. Liverpool Hope University reserves the right to withhold 100% of salary for this type of industrial action.

Technically and consistent with the framework and direction provided by UCEA, 100% of pay may be withheld for those participating in the MAB. However, without prejudice to this principle, where staff participating in the MAB are still performing their other contractual duties on a voluntary basis, we are, at the present time, willing to maintain an element of pay on a purely voluntary and ex gratia basis.

Accordingly, the University initially withheld pay at the rate of 50% of pay, with 50% maintained as described, on a voluntary and ex gratia basis for the period of time they participate in the MAB. This changed to 35% of pay being withheld and 65% maintained on a voluntary basis from the month of May after meetings with UCU and offering the following proposal: UCU Letter (local action 30.05.23)

This form of partial performance is deemed to be continuous even if there are days in the period of your participation on the MAB when you may not normally be marking or completing assessment activity.

This proportion of payment will be kept under review and could be increased, reduced or withdrawn in full at any time. For the avoidance of doubt any decision to withhold pay will continue to be informed by the impact of ASOS has on our students and the level of disruption to their education. Any changes to the current decision will be communicated in advance.

Pay will be withheld for the period, starting no earlier than Thursday, 20 April 2023, from which staff are required to be undertaking duties covered by the boycott e.g. allocated marking and/or assessment, or attend subject meetings or assessment boards but refuse to do so. For any marking or assessment work submitted on or after the 20th April the student submission deadline will be the start date for withholding pay for those participating in the MAB. . For any assessment work submitted for marking or assessment by the student before April 20th, where staff declare they are taking action consisting of MAB the withholding of pay will commence from the 20th April 2023.

How is my pay reinstated?

Pay will no longer be withheld once you resume normal working, or UCU ends this form of ASOS, or there is no further marking or assessment work expected of you. If you decide to end your engagement in the boycott you should notify Personnel immediately via email at

Please note that the reallocation of an individual’s work to another colleague will not indicate that pay should be reinstated, should the individual participating in the boycott still have otherwise been expected to have been involved in marking and/or assessment activities. The University’s position, therefore, is that unless there is an earlier declaration of a willingness to resume full normal duties, the withholding of pay for this form of ASOS will continue until:

  • the original deadline for the member of staff participating in the boycott to submit their marks;
  • (if, but for participation in the boycott, they would have carried out further marking and assessment work after submitting the marks e.g. attending subject meeting or assessment boards) the date on which their involvement with that work would have ceased, for example up to the original deadline for finalising the marks associated with the marking originally allocated to them or UCU ends this form of ASOS.

What happens if I decide to take action in the form of the MAB after work I am due to mark has been submitted by the students?

You will need to inform your Head of School/Department and Personnel notifying the day you commenced the MAB immediately. The deduction of pay would be back dated to the student submission date

Will I be reimbursed any withheld pay if I participate in the MAB but later complete marking and assessment duties?

There will be no reimbursement of withheld pay to a colleague after they cease participating in industrial action, including where duties not carried out during the industrial action are completed after returning to normal working.

What will happen to pension contributions if I participate in the MAB?

As stated the University reserves the right to withhold (up to 100% of) pay due to partial performance during ASOS. This includes any period of a marking and assessment boycott.

However as the initial response to the MAB is a partial withholding of pay, employer and employee pension contributions will be calculated based on the actual pay that the individual receives after the reduction in pay has been applied. This will result in the individual accruing a lower pension during the period of the pay being withheld. (If 100% of pay is withheld at a future point then the individual will have a day out of pensionable service and no pension will accrue for that day.)

I am participating in the MAB, am I obliged to return any scripts/assessments already submitted?

Yes. Where a colleague states that they are participating in the boycott and they are already in receipt of scripts they may be asked to return the scripts immediately, whether marked or not. Scripts are the property of the University and colleagues must comply with any requests to return them.

As a line manager, can I ask my team if they are participating in industrial action consisting of MAB?

Yes. Once the boycott has started colleagues are obliged to answer truthfully if they are asked if they are participating. Whilst colleagues must answer truthfully in relation to current or past participation, they may not willingly share future intentions therefore it may be appropriate to ask more regularly over a period of time in order to effectively monitor the situation.

Can managers ask colleagues to prioritise marking and assessment duties over other duties?

Yes. The University reserves the right to determine those tasks to be prioritised including rescheduling work as appropriate to minimise disruption to our student community. Due consideration should be given to workload distribution with a view to minimising any excessive demands on colleagues.

How will information on my participation in the MAB be used by the University?

The names of individuals who are taking part in the ASOS comprising of MAB, will be shared with Heads of Schools and University Executive Managers to help them assess the impact of the industrial action on students’ learning. This information will help them determine what action is necessary to minimise the impact on students to protect their student experience and progress whilst the action is ongoing.

The information will be retained by Heads of School no longer than necessary to ensure that the impact has been assessed, appropriate mitigation measures are put in place and the associated academic assessment processes completed.

The information will also be processed and retained by the HR and Payroll department so that the adjustments to colleagues’ pay, and the reasons for them, are properly recorded.

The University has accordingly considered the use of this information and is satisfied that this is compliant with data protection legislation. Colleagues receiving information about individuals who have taken part in MAB action are aware of their data protection responsibilities and duty to uphold confidentiality.