Businesses facing industrial action

31 January 2023

Industrial action might involve a strike or action short of a strike. During a lawful industrial action, trade unions and their members are protected from legal action in civil law. However, are employees paid when on strike?

If workers go on strike, the government guideline declares businesses do not have to pay them for the hours lost. Employees are not required to tell their plans for strike, however employers can ask them so that effects of the strike can be highlighted.

Additional government guidelines reference:

Deducting pay – ‘‘if workers take action short of a strike, and refuse to carry out part of their contractual work, this is called ‘partial performance’. If you refuse to accept partial performance, you must tell employees that:

  • they should only attend work if they fulfil their contractual duties

  • if they do not fulfil the terms of their employment contract, you do not have to pay them

if you do accept partial performance, you must still pay employees for any work that they have done’’

How much pay to deduct during a strike – ‘‘you should only deduct the amount that the employee would have earned during the strike. How you work this out may depend on how they are paid (for example, hourly, weekly or monthly) and on the terms of their employment contract. You cannot deduct an employee’s pay if they were not supposed to be working on the day of the strike.’’

An employee's leave and pay is not affected by strikes if they're on:

  • maternity leave

  • paternity leave

  • adoption leave

  • parental leave

  • shared parental leave.

An important note is ‘‘if employees return to work after the strike, their continuous employment is not affected - they continue to be employed by you. This means that the terms and conditions of their employment contracts still apply during and after the strike.’’

You can read more about this topic here and further guidance can be found by visiting GOV.UK.

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