I hope that you’ve enjoyed taking a lunch break each day and finishing work after 7.5 hours (7 on a Friday!).  It’s been a bit of a revelation to see just how many hours I’ve got into the habit of wokring for free on top of what I’m paid for.  And it’s been altogether a far less stressful work life.  Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) has been really transformative in this way.  Please make sure your email signature and auto-reply include the info about ASOS – you can copy and paste the wording here:
Please note I am working-to-contract as part of the UCU’s industrial action in pursuit of its Four Fights over fair pay, pay equality, casualisation and workloads. This means that I am not working any extra hours that I am not being paid for and therefore it may take longer for me to respond to emails. You can find out more about the dispute here: and get local information here:

How to Take Effective ASOS

A few members have asked for a bit more info on how to undertake ASOS effectively.  UCU have provided comprehensive guidance on this at  UCU have also provided guidance on what counts as ‘voluntary’.  The full page is here but the list below is a useful quick reference:

This briefing is based on further legal advice obtained by the union.  However if you are in any doubt about whether the duty you intend to refuse is voluntary check first with the union by contacting direct.

1. What is and is not ‘voluntary’?

A duty is unlikely to be voluntary if it is mentioned in your contract or other related documentation.  If you receive any sort of established monetary compensation or formally allocated time then the activities will also probably will not be voluntary.

2. Examples of possible voluntary duties

On the basis that the conditions in (1) above are met the following activities are likely to be voluntary:

    • accepting a new invitation to be a member of a REF panel
    • being involved in internal review panels in preparation for the REF
    • involvement in National Student Survey activities
    • involvement in Knowledge Exchange Framework activities
    • involvement in Teaching Excellence Framework activities
    • invigilating exams for subjects that you have not taught
    • participation in open days
    • participation in UCAS days
    • any weekend working (except where your contract stipulates it)
    • involvement in Athena Swan panels or initiatives
    • involvement in Race Equality Charter initiatives
    • completion of surveys or questionaires not directly related to your role
    • covering for colleagues
    • performance and/or development reviews
    • peer review of teaching
    • non-compulsory school or department meetings
    • attendance at guest lectures.

Taking a collective position on these things at a departmental level will really help everyone to feel confident about this. Talk to your colleagues and work together.

ASOS Lunches

Many of us fall into the habit of eating lunch at our desks. There’s always something urgent to do, right?  But ASOS is an opportunity to reclaim your lunch break!  No matter how urgent, if you have been given too many things to do in the time avaialble, something has to give.  And it shouldn’t be your lunchbreak and the associated long-term health and wellbeing associated with taking proper breaks.

Why not establish an ASOS lunch team? Here are some pics of ASOS lunches that colleagues have taken recently.  Look how happy!

ASOS Lunch ASOS Lunch, Mithras canteen ASOS Lunch Falmer

If you’ve got any other suggestions for effective ASOS, let us know in the comments below or by contacting your local rep or branch officers.  And please share your ASOS lunch pics with us on Twitter @BrightonUCU and Facebook

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