Last updated: Wednesday 27 September 2023
Updated FAQs on the marking and assessment boycott can be found below under 'Staff guidance'.

UCU notified us of action short of strike (ASOS) to start from Thursday 25 May. This is in addition to the marking and assessment boycott which started on Wednesday 17 May as part of continuous action short of strike (ASOS). 

This industrial action is all in relation to the 2022-23 pay award. 

Withheld salaries will be reinvested in our students’ experience. Funds will be directed to the Student Support Fund by default, although individual departments will be able to claim for any additional support they need to mitigate the impacts of the industrial action on students.

2022-2023 Local Pay Award  

As communicated earlier this month, to avoid any further delay in providing this year’s salary increase the University Management Board decided to implement the full and final pay offer [pdf] that was set out in April, including the three additional months’ payment for 1 May 2023 to 31 July 2023. The three additional months’ payment was paid in the July payroll. In your July payslip you will see the May and June payment appear as ‘Basic Salary Arrears’, while the July payment was included in an increased basic salary. The rest of the offer will be implemented from 1 August and paid from the August payroll onwards. 

Discussions with the Joint Trade Unions 

We have continued to meet with the Joint Trade Unions, supported by ACAS. Imperial made the following proposal to the JTUs in August:

  1. As part of our Total Remuneration Package (TRP) approach, we continue to want to share the USS employer savings with all staff and ask that you present the unconsolidated £500 payment and any further savings ([1]as outlined in our proposal dated 16 June 2023) to your members.
  2. We agree to your request to extend the deadline to Friday 15th September 2023.  We would hope your members can accept the £500 (unconsolidated) payment(s), but if they can’t, it will be withdrawn.
  3. If your members accept the unconsolidated payment(s), we will place a note on the College Pay and Pensions webpage advising individuals to contact the Reward team if they are concerned about the impact of the payment on their Universal Credit payments. For these individuals only, we can implement the £500 payment over three months.
  4. In anticipation of the USS savings for 2024/2025 Local Pay Bargaining, we would exceptionally commence negotiations in January 2024. This earlier start and completion date would allow you to consult with your members in February/ March. If an agreement is reached, this will allow us to bring forward an element of the pay award to 1 April 2024, with the remainder paid on the normal contractual date (1 August 2024).
    1. In advance of the negotiations, we would like all JTU and College negotiating team members to jointly attend a workshop facilitated by ACAS representative Simon Long.
    2. We would also require negotiations to be entirely undertaken in accordance with the local pay constitution attached.
  5. We would be willing to agree on a joint statement on our approach to using the USS savings in line with our TRP.
  6. [2]We would commence work and negotiate on a new Professional, Technical, Operational and Learning grading and salary scale.

This offer, one to six above, is subject to the JTU pausing all forms of action whilst you consult your members and, if the offer is accepted, ending the 2022/23 and 2023/24 Local Pay disputes.

[1] In anticipation of the potential reduction in the employer pension cost from next April as a result of the USS re-evaluation, Imperial will (at its own risk) commit to an unconsolidated one-off payment of £500 to each employee on Imperial Terms and Conditions. This payment will be:

  • pro-rated for part-time staff based on their December Full Time Equivalent;
  • made in December 2023 in advance of any potential reduction in pension contributions;
  • paid to all employees in post during December 2023.

In our proposal presented on 9 June 2023, we committed to share all of the employer’s reduction in costs associated with the future accrual of Defined Benefits in USS for the financial year 2023/24, should this exceed the circa £3.8m, which will be used to pay each member of staff £500 (pro-rated for part-time staff) in December 2023. We will discuss with the JTU how this should be used.

Staff in USS may also see a reduction in their contributions upon completion of the valuation, which is expected by April 2024.

[2] We will define the work needed to deliver a grading and salary structure which is fit for purpose for the College now and in the future and share this with you.   We will work with you and relevant stakeholders on developing the new job families/grades for the Professional, Technical, Operational and Learning job families.  We will undertake full market benchmarking to identify the salary ranges and structural elements, e.g. design of increments, and we will negotiate with you on the proposed salary structure. 


Staff guidance

Marking and assessment boycott

Updated Tuesday 15 August 2023

The ASOS mandate is ongoing and you continue to have the right to refuse to take on contractual duties which fall under the remit of the marking and assessment boycott, in which deductions will start again from the day of refusal.   

If you are participating in MAB please complete the Confirmation of Participation in Marking and Assessment Boycott Form and End of Marking and Assessment Boycott Form when you have ceased the boycott and returned to your full contractual duties so that we can pay you correctly as soon as possible.


Our local University and College Union (UCU)  informed us they intended to start a marking and assessment boycott from Wednesday 17 May as part of continuous action short of strike (ASOS). This is in relation to local pay. UCU has not given an end date for the boycott. Their mandate means the boycott could run continuously for the next six months. UCU marking and assessment boycott FAQs can be accessed at this link.

What is included in the marking and assessment boycott? 

UCU is asking staff not to: 

  • set examinations or assessment questions 
  • invigilate examinations 
  • mark papers, essays, or projects 
  • moderate papers, essays, or projects 
  • provide informal/ formal guidance/feedback to students concerning their likely mark, grade or assessed progress of summative assessments, whether they may pass/fail 
  • process marks – including marks generated prior to the beginning of the assessment boycott and marks which may be produced by non-UCU members 
  • record any marks on paper, enter them into any online system, or communicate them to colleagues or students 
  • attend or participate in any examiners' boards or related meetings. 

When will the withholding of pay for MAB commence?

The withholding of pay started from when you were required to undertake a marking and assessment task but choose not to do so. It did not begin from the date the marking is due. 

Alternatively, if you initially accept a marking and assessment task but later declared that you are taking part in the boycott and had not completed the whole task, withholding of pay was backdated to the day after the marking was first available. 

When will withholding of pay for MAB cease?

Most marking and assessments for undergraduate students across Imperial have now been completed. As such, we have returned all staff to full pay effective the day after their departmental Examiners’ Progression and Award Board.

The College acknowledges that the ASOS and MAB mandate is ongoing, and individuals have the right to refuse to take on contractual duties which fall under the remit of the marking and assessment boycott. Individuals who choose not to resume their full contractual duties to include marking and assessment and to participate after the July Board dates, will have 25% of their pay withheld until: 

  • They stop participating in the boycott and resume marking and assessment work; or 
  • The entire marking and assessment task has been completed (including any expected attendance at an exam board and all associated feedback to individuals or cohorts); or 
  • The mandate for ASOS expires, and you resume marking and assessment work.  

How is the pay deduction calculated? 

If you choose to take part in the boycott, the College will withhold 25 per cent of your pay for the period of your participation in MAB. The way the College processes that deduction is by withholding 25% pay for each day falling within the period, calculated on the basis of 1/365 of your gross annual salary (subject to approved annual leave and sick leave as set out in more detail below).

What happens if I accept exam scripts, and then I choose to take part in the boycott? 

As UCU’s FAQs set out, exam scripts are the property of the university. If you have scripts in your possession and then choose to take part in the boycott, you must return the scripts immediately. 

Assuming you have not completed the whole task, then withholding of pay will be backdated to the day after the marking was first made available. 

What can students expect to receive in terms of marking and assessment? 

Students should ultimately receive the marks and feedback on all coursework and exams as they expected to prior to the boycott, but there may be delays in receiving some marks and feedback. 

On what basis has Imperial arrived at 25% as a fair withdrawal of pay for the marking and assessment boycott?

 The College considered the legal basis for withholding pay and identified that the courts have found that where partial performance is undertaken, an employer has a right to reduce pay by a percentage that corresponds to its prospective loss and the reduced value of the work being performed (given the services being withheld). For the College, this is based on:

  • the potential level of disruption to the education of students;
  • the reassignment of other employees to fulfil those duties not carried out by staff participating in the MAB, and the increased need to engage Graduate Teaching Assistants as assistant examiners to cover marking;
  • the increased expense of the administrative demands of dealing with partial performance, including financial loss such as legal fees and non-financial loss such as the corresponding time lost that detracts from delivering the academic mission, projects, and business-as-usual activities;
  • the approach taken in the sector (such as the level of pay being withheld by other higher education institutions also facing MAB and relevant guidance to the sector);
  • the amount of marking and assessment duties not carried out;
  • the College’s prospective loss, including the foreseeable effects of reputational damage; and
  • the collective nature of the action pursued.

What will happen to my pension if I participate in the Marking and Assessment Boycott?

The College has decided to go beyond its legal obligation and agreed to maintain full employee and employer pension contributions for any periods of reduced pay, if requested on the marking and assessment declaration form.

Will bank holidays, annual leave or sick leave during the marking and assessment boycott period be exempt when calculating the amount to be withheld?

Yes, Bank Holidays, annual leave or sick leave are exempt. All annual leave must however be pre-booked with sufficient time in advance to allow for approval and otherwise in accordance with the College’s procedures and any contractual requirements in order to qualify for exemption. Sick leave must also be processed in accordance with the College’s procedures and any contractual requirements to qualify for exemption. Following feedback from employees, the College has agreed on a voluntary basis that the weekends on either side of a period of pre-booked annual leave are also exempt.             

I understand the College’s official position is that they exercise discretion and accept partial performance in relation to the marking and assessment boycott. I have been working full-time. Why aren’t I being paid my normal salary?

You are not receiving your normal salary because you have informed the College that you are participating in the marking and assessment boycott, which means you have chosen to refrain from undertaking your full contractual duties. In those circumstances, the College can make an appropriate deduction to your pay.

Is the College likely to change its position to accept partial performance or the percentage of pay withheld?

For now, the College will exercise discretion to accept partial performance.  The percentage of pay withheld will be kept under review, and the College reserves the right to subsequently reject partial performance and/or to withhold a higher percentage of pay. 

Can I request time off in lieu and receive 100% of my pay?

No. There is no contractual right to time off in lieu (TOIL) for the academic, teaching, and research job families.

Is attending conferences excluded from the marking and assessment boycott deductions?

No, UCU has notified the College that MAB is continuous, and pay will continue to be withheld whilst attending conferences.

I work part-time. How will the deductions from my salary be made?

The normal practice of pro-rating pay applies. If you choose to participate in MAB, your pro-rated pay will be reduced by 25% for the period of your participation in MAB.

How do you calculate how much pay will be withheld from individuals with multiple roles, e.g., department and College-level or other? 

Pay is only withheld from your basic pay relating to your departmental role. Pay is not withheld from any honorarium or supplementary payments made on top of your basic pay for the supplemental role.

How do you intend to adjust the MAB deductions in light of the strike days – as I am participating in both?

For the specific strike day(s), pay withheld will be increased to 100%. The level of withheld pay will then return to 25% the following day if you are still participating in MAB.

Will I be paid in full on weekends, or does withheld pay apply on weekends?  

Where the form of industrial action is a strike, the withholding of labour occurs by reference to a day unit of time. The corresponding reduction of pay is, therefore, to the same unit of time.

Where the industrial action comprises the continual non-performance of a particular service, which there is a contractual obligation to perform (as is the case in relation to MAB), the day unit of time is irrelevant to the measure of the College’s loss or the value of the service being withheld. 

The percentage reduction in pay applied by the College in acceptance of partial performance does not correlate to any specification about the days of the week on which the non-performed service was to be performed. Those taking MAB industrial action are refusing to perform a proportion of their contractual duties. The percentage of pay deducted corresponds to the cost to the College and the diminution of work performed. It is not calculated by reference to any day unit of time.

We are aware that there have been some suggestions that the College’s withholding of a proportion of pay throughout the MAB period implies that the College expects employees to work at the weekends. We would like to clarify that there is no such expectation (save for those employees who are contractually required to work at weekends). Where your contract does not require you to work weekends, the reduction of 25% that applies to your contractual pay applies to the period in which you would contractually be required to perform your work (i.e. weekdays). In other words, there is no ’weekend pay’ per se for these purposes (and the suggestion that the College is making deductions to ‘weekend pay’ is therefore not accurate). In that respect, weekends materially differ from annual leave (where employees have a right to paid time off). For this reason, annual leave is exempt from deductions, as set out above.

As set out above, the rationale for the amount of the deduction is based on a wide range of factors and is not calculated by reference to any particular day unit of time. Those factors continue throughout the MAB period, weekends or not.

We would also highlight that, in terms of the mechanics of how the College applies the 25% deduction, it is applied to 1/365 of gross annual salary for each day falling within the period. This effectively factors in that work is sometimes carried out on weekends, although it is not required.

In most other employment contexts, pay is deemed to accrue at a rate of 1/260 of salary (i.e. the working days in the year). Applying the deduction on a 1/260 basis to working days only would give a similar result as applying the deduction on a 1/365 basis to all days falling within the period. 

Other ASOS actions

UCU has notified us of additional action short of strike (ASOS) actions to start from Thursday 25 May: 

  • Working to contract;  
  • Not covering for colleagues;  
  • Not undertaking any voluntary duties including Open Days;  
  • Not making up work missed during industrial action;  
  • Removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, work that will be or has been cancelled as a result of strike action;  
  • Not providing materials for others to cover work during industrial action;  
  • Boycott of annual TOAST survey;  
  • Boycott of staff surveys and training, including Imperial essentials training;  
  • Non-participation in departmental and college-wide special events. 

Pay will not be withheld for staff choosing to participate in these ASOS actions

Removing uploaded materials 

We will not challenge members of staff who remove uploaded materials. However, the action specifically links to actual strike days, and therefore, full-scale removal of material which is not related to an actual strike day is not in line with the ASOS. 

Our commitment to the delivery of education to our students includes them having access to recorded material for the duration of their course/studies. Any material which is removed should not be destroyed (as this would be outside of the ASOS), and it is expected that after the strike day the material is re-uploaded to ensure that students once again have access. 

Learning materials developed with other colleagues may be temporarily removed if all parties are participating in the strike action; however, such material should not be taken down if one or more contributors are not participating. 

ASOS also should not extend to asking another member of staff to undertake this action on their behalf and, if asked to do so, individuals may wish to discuss this with their Head of Department. 

Imperial Essentials

All staff must complete the six Imperial Essentials courses within the first six months of joining the College to ensure College compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. Successful completion of the probation period may be delayed until all the required training has been completed.

Strike action

Will the College be closed?  

No, the College will be open as usual.  

Will I have to cross a picket line?  

It is likely that there will be a polite picketing presence at some entrances to campuses on the strike days. While pickets may ask you not to cross a picket line, they cannot stop you from entering the campuses or require you to engage in discussion with them. Those who wish to cross a picket line are allowed to do so.  Pickets should consist of a maximum of six people on any picket line. Picketing at the College has always been conducted in a respectful way without any intimidation of staff, students or visitors and we're confident that this will continue.  

What do I do if I have meetings arranged with external visitors or interviews on a strike day?

You may wish to inform your visitor that there may be a picket and that, while picketers may ask them not to cross the picket line, picketers will not stop them then entering campuses or force them to engage in discussion. You may choose to conduct the meeting or interview online via Teams or Zoom. For meetings or interviews arranged for strike days: if you are concerned key members of the meeting may not be present, meetings should, if feasible, be re-arranged, or alternate members of staff should be identified to cover for potentially absent employees.

Do I need to inform the College if I choose to take strike action?  

You are not obliged to inform us in advance of your intention to take industrial action.    

If you choose not to provide this notification in advance of a strike day, you should do so as soon as reasonably possible on your return by emailing, copying in your Head of Department and Departmental Operations Manager or equivalent. 

Information required in your email 
  • Your name, CID number and department 
  • All dates you intend to take/have taken strike action
  • If you do not work full time, include your work pattern 
  • Whether you wish to make up your pension contributions.

If you wish to make up your pension contributions, the College will also pay the corresponding employer contribution. If you do not state this, it will not be done and cannot be changed after you have been paid. 

What will happen to my salary if I take strike action?  

The College will withhold a full day’s pay for each day that you take strike action, and this will be calculated at the rate of 1/365.   

What will happen to my pension if I take strike action?

Industrial action automatically suspends a member of staff’s employment contract, affecting the build-up of their pension benefits. Lower pensionable pay means a lower level of pension builds up. Death in service and ill health retirement benefits are still covered during the strike days detailed above for members of SAUL. USS trustees have agreed that cover will be maintained for up to 31 days per year but have reserved the right to review this position if the industrial action is extended beyond these days. Should you wish to maintain contributions on days when you are not paid, you should notify us as outlined above.

Sponsored workers 

Skilled Worker/Tier 2 and Temporary Worker/Tier 5 GAE sponsored workers should be aware that we will record time off work due to strike action as part of legally organised industrial action in Teamseer and, in some instances, may need to report this to UKVI. 

Although strike days are classified as a permitted exception under UKVI unpaid leave rules, the College would be required to notify UKVI if you were to have 10 consecutive working days of unauthorised absence. This should not impact on either your current status or ability to extend your permission to stay in the UK.