Academics threatened over working to rule

A university threatened staff that it would dock them a day’s pay if they did not work unpaid overtime, it has emerged.

November 9, 2013

In advance of the sector-wide strike on 31 October, the human resources department at University of Wales Trinity Saint David emailed employees to inform them of the consequences of union action, including of working to contract.

Working to contract constituted a “partial non-performance of duties” and would result in the docking of one day’s wage, an email sent on 24 October warns. 

“Staff are reminded that any form of industrial action will be classified as a breach of a contract of employment,” it adds. “Withdrawal of pay for industrial action is lawful under the Employment Rights Act 1996.”

Details of the leaked email, which has been seen by Times Higher Education, were first revealed in a report by the Cambrian News.

A spokesman for the University and College Union said it would “challenge any attempts to make deductions from staff who are following the work to contract action”.

“If staff are performing their normal duties, but not undertaking activities over and above that, the employer has no justification for deducting their salary,” he said.

However, a spokeswoman for the university insisted that the university “will not be withholding pay from staff participating in ‘working to contract’, unless there has been a clear breach of that contract”.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

I think it is worth noting the underlying message that comes from the university here: it is that the university recognizes that the demands of the academic workload cannot be met if academics actually work the hours set out in EU directives.

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