Do teachers get paid when taking strike action?


Do teachers get paid when taking strike action? Losing pay for taking strike action can be a contentious topic.

It is a personal decision to take strike action and can be a tricky one to make particularly during a cost of living crisis.

The Department for Education (DfE) explains that employees are not entitled to be paid during any period which they are on strike. 

In its guidance on ‘Handling strike action in schools’ the DfE notes that statutory protection against an unlawful deduction of wages does not apply in relation to strike or other industrial action. 

The calculation of pay deductions for unauthorised absence is not determined by the Secretary of State, but it is important that schools act fairly and proportionately when making pay deductions.

The DfE explains employers should have a clear process in place for collecting data on staff absences; this information can then be verified and forwarded promptly to those responsible for the school’s payroll.

School staff employed under ‘The Burgundy Book’ – should have their pay deduction calculated on the basis of 1/365th of their annual salary for each day of strike action.

We would also recommend checking your employment contract and your staff handbook to see if there is any specific information regarding taking strike action in your setting.

Will taking strike action affect my pension?

Yes, taking strike action will have an impact on your pension. The DfE explains that strike days should not count for reckonable service purposes within the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

We have published another support article which provides an overview of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

The Teachers’ Pensions website provides guidance on how to record strike days, which should be as “days excluded”, to ensure that pension cover is adjusted appropriately. 

There can be an impact on redundancy payments if the loss of days for strike action reduces the number of full years of continuous employment that a teacher has completed.

  • The strike days will not be recorded as reckonable and therefore will not be used in any calculation for pension purposes
  • Members over Normal Pension Age will not be entitled to retirement benefits for the strike days, provided you record the service as ‘days out’ rather than a service break
  • Members remain covered for the ‘in-service’ death grant if they die while on strike.

There’s no provision in the Scheme for members to buy back strike days.

Can parents claim for financial compensation?

The DfE explains that there is no express right for a member of the public who is affected by a lawful strike to receive financial compensation.

Any member of the public seeking to make a claim for compensation would have to establish a legal basis for doing so, such as a breach of contract.

Do teachers get paid when taking strike action: What are sustentation payments?

Some teaching unions might provide sustentation payments or hardship funds for school staff who take part in strike action.

Sustentation payments are designed to reimburse members for any deduction in their salary as a result of them taking part in authorised strike action. Sustentation payments do not reimburse 100% of the strike pay deduction as strike pay deduction is from gross pay.

Therefore, the amount deducted is higher than the amount which a member would have taken home.

However for illustration, for strike action in 2023, one teaching union, the National Education Union (NEU) explained:

“We will not be paying strike pay so you will receive a deduction of salary for any days we are on strike.  You will be likely to have a day’s pay deducted from your wages for each day’s strike action.  Teachers in local authority maintained schools will lose 1/365th of annual pay, while other members may be subject to other deductions which may be specified in their contracts.”

In addition, the NEU explained on the topic of hardship funds:

“The NEU Trust Fund is not able to help with strike pay.  It is set up to support members and their families who are suffering hardship for other reason.”

What are my alternatives if I do not want to be part of a teaching union?

Edapt provides high-quality casework support for your individual role in school. We are apolitical, independent and do not take part in strike action or political campaigning.

If you subscribe to Edapt you will receive:

  • High-quality, experienced and legally trained caseworkers working on your case
  • Up to £150,000 of legal costs should you need it for an employment tribunal, or professional conduct hearing
  • Extended opening hours. Access to support and advice from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday
  • Access to our Knowledge Base of support articles where you can research topics from performance-related pay, what to expect in an investigatory meeting to whether you are expected to attend school in extreme weather conditions
  • Our monthly Policy Insights Newsletter (you can opt-in) and receive invites to our exclusive education events
  • PR advice and media support if your case is published in the media

Defending yourself through an allegation, disciplinary process or even a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) hearing on your own would be incredibly difficult and even more problematic to secure a positive outcome in your favour.

It would also be extremely expensive, securing legal advice and accompaniment which could be well in excess of £10,000. A significant case which proceeds to employment tribunal or TRA hearing could indeed lead to costs in the tens of thousands of pounds. The emotional impact of navigating the process yourself would also be very personally demanding.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.