University of Reading staff warned of 'up to 100%' pay deduction
A university has threatened to dock staff pay by "up to 100%" if they "only partially perform" their contractual duties during industrial action.
Some University of Reading employees have been taking "action short of a strike" such as working only contracted hours and not doing "unpaid overtime".
This is part of a nationwide dispute.
The university said it did not want to dock pay but it was "important that everyone understands all the implications of their actions".
Members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) have been taking action at 60 universities over pay, pensions and working conditions.
In a recent staff email, the University of Reading's head of human resources John Brady said: "The university is not legally obliged to pay you in full if you only partially perform your contractual duties.
"This could lead to deduction of up to 100% of pay.
"As well as the express terms of your written contact of employment, there are other implied terms that are also contractual obligations."
In the email, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Brady gives the example of lecturers not being paid for failing to reschedule classes missed due to strike action.
What are implied terms?
There is no legal requirement for an employee to have a written contract of employment in England and Wales.
Where a written contract does exist it may include implied terms, which are not necessarily set out in writing but still form part of the agreement between employer and employee.
These are usually terms deemed to be too obvious to be written down.
Prof Par Kumaraswami, who works at the university, said many of the institution's employees work up to 60 hours a week despite only being contracted for 35.
She added: "A lot of academics work evenings and weekends. [The university] needs to recognise we are regularly doing unpaid labour."
The university said some staff did not have contracted hours as part of their academic roles.
A spokesperson said: "Working at a university involves numerous responsibilities to allow us to operate properly.
"Certain actions, like not rescheduling missed classes, may be a breach of contract and could result in pay being deducted.
"We encourage any staff who intend to participate in action short of strike and are unclear on what actions they are entitled to take to speak to their line manager."