USS is now under attack

  • The employers want to end guaranteed pension benefits.
  • They say your final pension should depend on how your 'investments' perform and not on your contributions.
  • We say it's wrong to risk our members' futures.

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Strike action and pensionable salary

Strike action affects the length of service for all employees and the final salary for those in their last year of service.

Teachers' Pension Scheme

Those members remaining in the final salary scheme

1.  Loss of service

The employer reports the strike day to Teachers' Pension as an excluded day. This has the effect of reducing the service build by one day. The only way a member can make this good is through using the Additional Pension Benefit and purchase £250 to sit on top of their annual pension when they retire. For costs see the TPS calculator.

2.  For those in their last year

Branches can avoid additional costs to those in their last year of service by making sure that employers are aware of the distinction between the service salary and the contributory salary reported to Teachers Pensions.

The contributory salary is the salary on which the 6.35% contributions would be based. This has to be the actual salary for the year.  

The service salary is the full-time equivalent salary for the whole year - it is the salary the full-time lecturer would have been paid if s/he had not been on strike.  This figure should be shown on the teachers' service records sent to Teachers' Pensions. If this is done correctly, lecturers in their last year of service will not suffer any greater loss than other lecturers.

Members should check their benefit statements in due course to ensure that the correct annual salary has been reported to TP. Employers do not have discretion in this matter so an appeal to Teachers Pensions can be made if employers do report wrongly.

If branches do not succeed in having the correct salary reported to TP, there is a potential loss if there has been a pay award within the relevant period. If there has been no pay award in the last two years of service, there will be no loss.   

Where there has been a pay award, the potential loss may be estimated as follows:

  1. where the employer deducts 1/365 of salary for the loss of a single day of strike action, the loss is very small.  The pension is based on the last 365 days of pensionable service with one day from the previous year replacing the 'missing' strike day in the calculation
  2. where the employer deducts 1/260th of salary for the loss of a single day, the potential loss is larger as the average salary in the final year falls. Branches need to be particularly vigilant to ensure that institutions report the correct final service salaries in this situation.

How will my pension be affected, I am retiring this year

If you have not given your notice, then consider working a further day longer than you planned and there will be not affect on your pension. If this is not possible then the effect is detailed below.

The loss of a day's strike in pension's terms is that the employer reports as an excluded day from pay. This means if an individual is in their final year that Teachers Pension when it is counting the final year salary will have to move one day further back than if the individual did not strike for a day. The loss on the final days salary is the difference between one day old salary and new salary (if there has been a pay increase in the period), times the length of their service.

So a member on £30,000 up to 1 August 2009 and £30,500 who had worked 25 years, retiring 3 May 2010, would do this calculation:

  • Without the strike day the 365 days of the final year salary would be 304 days at £30,500 and 61 days of £30,000
    304 of £30,500 = £25,492.74
    61 of £30,000 = £5,013.70
    Total £30,416 times service 25 years = 30,416.44/80 x 25 = £9,505 annual pension
  • With the strike day the 365 days of the final year salary would be 303 days at £30,500 and 62 days of £30,000
    303 of £30,500 = £25,319.18
    62 of £30,000 = £ 5,095.89
    Total £30,405 times service 25 years = 30,405/80 x 25=£9,502 annual pension

    So the loss would be £3 per year.

The strike action is more likely than anything else to win them more than this which would have a greater impact on their pension.

(1)  The final salary is the salary for the best 365 consecutive days in the last year of employment. The size and timing of a pay award can therefore be significant for people within a year of retirement. Or is based on the 10 year look back, where Teachers' Pensions revalue the salaries in line with price increase from the point of any change and the best consecutive three years revalued are averaged. Teachers' Pension base the pension on whichever is the highest.

Those in CARE

Your pension is based on 1/57th of your earnings during the year and therefore you will loss this amount of the deduction made by your employer, in that financial year.

Note: The month in which the employer deducts the strike compensation pay may have the effect of reducing your monthly contributions by reducing the monthly FTE.

Universities Superannuation Scheme

Members will lose 1/75th of the deduction that the employer takes for the strike action in that financial year.

Members of USS on strike move from active membership to suspended membership, which could affect payment of death grant or incapacity to avoid this, members are able to enter into a written agreement with USS to pay additional contributions for the strike day and retain these benefits. This is an area that UCU branch will normally take up with the employer and provide information.

Local Government Pension Scheme

A member of LGPS on strike and therefore not in receipt of pay for that day will not count for pension purposes. Members can arrange to make payment for the missing period and to do this, the member needs to give written notice within 39 days of returning to work.

If a member is paying extra LGPS contributions for nominated co-habiting partners pension or added years, the member needs to make arrangement to cover the period of the strike.

If the member is making Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC) they can if they wish make arrangements to pay the missing period. But if the AVC if for extra life cover then the member needs to make arrangements or the policy will cease.

Last updated: 27 April 2016