Industrial Action Toolkit

Guidance to reps and members explaining strike law; FAQs and essential letters

Welcome to the Society of Radiographers Industrial Action Toolkit for all members. This is a generic toolkit to cover all industrial action, whether in the NHS or in the private sector. The latest strike action is set to occur in NI: 21st Sept - 23st Sept and England: 3rd October.

Getting Strike queries from patients? Please direct them to this page: Information for patients during the radiography strikes 

To update or add to the FAQs, please email [email protected].

Strike Manual

Be sure that you are prepared for strike action by downloading our Strike Manual.

Advice on Strike Action for members and reps

  • Who can participate in strike action?

    Any member or non-member with a contract of employment with the employer we are in dispute with can participate in strike action following a ballot of all eligible Members.

    The law protects SoR members and non-members against dismissal for participating in industrial action. More information available:

    Members of any other union who work within Radiology or Radiotherapy and participate in the strike action will be deemed to be taking unofficial action and, therefore will not be protected against dismissal. These colleagues should take their union's advice about what to do on our strike days.

    Internationally educated staff are protected under the law, and taking strike action will not affect their visa status or future employment prospects.

    The society would ask that Bank or Agency staff refrain from covering shifts in Trusts involved in industrial action. They are free to work at employers not involved in the action, including private sector employers.

    It is the expectation that members will follow any mandate for strike action issued by UK Council following a ballot. However, no action will be taken against any member who does not participate in the call to join the strike.

  • Life and limb during industrial action

    The Society of Radiographers believes it is essential that patient care is not compromised during an Industrial Dispute. The SOR recommends that, for the duration of an Industrial Dispute, arrangements known as Derogations should be made in advance for the maintenance by members of emergency services and services to high-dependency patients that could lead to patient harm.

    We are taking industrial action because all necessary steps have been taken to try and obtain a resolution without success.

    Derogations should be provided to maintain:

    •             Emergency intervention for the preservation of life or for the prevention of permanent disability

    •             Care required for services without which life would be jeopardised or permanent disability would occur

    •             Urgent diagnostic procedures and assessments required to obtain information on potentially life-threatening conditions or conditions that could potentially lead to permanent disability

    In addition to the agreed derogations. Management may also seek agreement on how staff may be contacted on the day of the action should staffing levels in derogated areas fall below the level agreed. This may include asking some staff who are striking to return to work. It is for staff to decide if they agree to the request to return to work. Where agreement cannot be reached on derogations, you must immediately contact [email protected], who will put you in contact with a regional officer to obtain advice on the matter.

    Preservation of life and limb

    Emergency services are defined by the Society as those which directly involve the life, limb or ultimate safety of a patient. Therefore, any SOR industrial action will follow the life-preserving care model.


    Diagnostic departments

    Before taking any industrial action, reps and members should ensure that arrangements have been made to provide staffing in line with those typically in place on Christmas Day to maintain minimum staffing levels on strike days.

    Any derogations must be agreed upon through discussion with members, the local union representative, and the employer informed of which service/procedures shall be maintained and exempt from taking part in industrial action.


    Therapy Departments

    Any derogations must be agreed upon through discussion with members, the local union representative, and the employer informed of which service/procedures shall be maintained and exempt from taking part in industrial action.

  • Picketing

    There is no legal "right to picket", but peaceful picketing has long been recognised as a lawful activity. However, the law limits how, where, and for what purpose such picketing can be undertaken. Picketing can only occur following a legal ballot in line with the requirements of the Trade Union Act [2016].

    To adhere to the requirements of the Trade Union Act [2016], the trade union must:

    • Appoint a picket supervisor who has responsibility for the picket line.
    • Must take reasonable steps to ensure that the police are informed of the supervisors' details and the location of the picket line. This can be done in person or online if available in your area.

    The law allows pickets to explain or distribute leaflets to persuade those entering or leaving the premises to support strike action. However, any such activity must be carried out peacefully in all cases.

    The code of practice regarding picketing states it is unlawful to:

    • Threaten, assault or harass those trying to enter the employer's premises.
    • Cause the obstruction of a path, entrance or exit to the premises.
    • Interfere through the noise of crowds towards neighbouring properties.
    • Trespass on private property.

    Picketing supervisor

    We expect the picketing supervisor to be the SOR representative and one other member or representative to act as deputy.

    Picketing supervisors should know that other union members or organisations may wish to join the picket line to demonstrate support. We do not object to this as long as they participate peaceful manner.


    The picketing supervisor must:

    • Carry a 'letter of authority' from their trade union and show it to the employer when requested.
    • Wear a badge, armband or similar and be easily identifiable. 

     Number of pickets

    The code of conduct states that pickets should not exceed six at any entrance to or exit from a workplace.

    However, our experience shows that the number can be higher where picketing is peaceful. Where numbers exceed the recommendation, the police have the power to impose conditions where they believe the assembly is likely to result in severe public disorder, serious damage to property, or serious disruption to the life of the community. Where the police exercise these powers, members must adhere to the order.

Preparing for Industrial Action

Please explore the following FAQs to help prepare you for Industrial Action

General Strike Action FAQs

  • Q1: Who can take part in strike action?

    Members who are employed on Agenda for Change terms by an NHS employer with whom we are in dispute can strike. NHS Employers for the purposes of industrial action are those organisations listed in Annex 1 to the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service handbook.    

    NHS Professionals is not an NHS Employer because the organisation is not listed in Annex 1.   

    Members can only strike if working for an employer in the list of Trusts where a strike ballot was achieved. If your employer is not in the list of Trusts with a successful ballot outcome, then you must not go on strike as you may face disciplinary action if you do so. 

  • Q2: I’m not sure if I’m striking on Tuesday/Wednesday. How do I know what to do if I’ve not heard anything?

    Strikes will be happening this week in the Trusts named in this list - see here.

    If you do not work in one of these Trusts then there is no legal mandate for you to go on strike. You must attend for work as normal if your Trust is not named in the list of strike locations.

  • Q3: Can I join a picket line or be the picket supervisor at my place of work if I wasn’t due to be in work on a strike day?

    Yes you can. 

    The NHS Employers guidance says:  “Anyone can join a picket line and employers cannot prevent individuals from doing so. What action managers/ trusts can take (if any) in response will depend upon the individual’s conduct whilst picketing and whether they retain their immunity from the legal action set out above or where members of the public/supporters join the picket line and whether they are committing a civil or criminal offence.” If you are on sick leave do not attend a picket line or demonstration as this might put your sick pay in jeopardy. 

  • Q4: I am on maternity leave or taking a career break. Can I strike?

    No. You can only strike if you are on duty on a strike day. But you can support your colleagues and the cause in other ways.

    For example, you could provide food and drink for those on a picket line, post about strike action on social media and speak to colleagues about being an SoR member.   

  • Q5: I am on long-term sick leave. Can I strike?

    No. You can only strike if you are on duty on a strike day. But you can support your colleagues and the cause in other ways if you feel well enough such as sending messages of solidarity.

    PLEASE DO NOT attend a picket line or demonstration as this might put your sick pay in jeopardy. 

  • Q6: I have recently started work with an NHS employer. Can I strike?

    Yes. There is no qualifying period of employment. You can strike from Day one. 

  • Q7:  I am an apprentice. Can I strike?

    You will be able to strike if:  

    • you are an apprentice and  

    • you are directly employed by an NHS employer and  

    • you are on Agenda for Change terms and conditions.

  • Q8: I am a third-year student, starting employment with an NHS employer soon. Can I strike?

    No. You can’t strike if you are still a student even if you are waiting to 

    Start a job with an NHS Organisation. As soon as you start your employment you can strike. 

  • Q9: I am a student on clinical placement during strike action. What can I do?

    Students should contact the university for advice. We advise that students should not be in the workplace during strike action. 

    Previously, some trusts have asked students to volunteer as HCAs to help with service delivery during strike action. We would advise you not to participate in this. It will not be counted towards your clinical placement hours.  

  • Q10: I do not work in a clinical role. Can I take industrial strike action?

    Every member is entitled to take industrial strike action following a lawful and successful ballot, and if called upon to do so by the SoR.  

  • Q11: If the strike days are when I’m on annual leave or days off, can I take part?

    No. You can only strike if you are on duty on a strike day. However, you can support your colleagues and the cause in other ways. For example, you can provide food and drink for those on a picket line, post on social media about strike action and speak to colleagues about joining the SoR if they are not already a member.   

  • Q12: Can I join other unions' strike action? Can they join ours?

    Members who belong to a different trade union may decide to strike on the days of SoR strike action. But this is not an official request from the SoR, and any consequences that may follow will be a matter for the individuals concerned. We strongly advise that they take advice from their own union. Please DO NOT advise members of other trade unions. 

  • Q13: SoR members taking part in industrial action organised by another union.

    As an SoR member, you should attend work as normal when another union is organising industrial action. We also recommend that you:  

    • don’t take on any work outside of your professional remit on the days of industrial action.  

    • don’t cover the work of colleagues taking industrial action if that work falls outside your contract or remit.  

    • don’t take on any voluntary overtime work to cover the work of those taking industrial action.   

    • avoid taking any bank or agency work to cover the work of those involved in the industrial action.   

    SoR shares guidance for supporting industrial action by other unions | SoR 

  • Q14: If I voted ‘no’ to strike action or did not vote in the ballot, can I still take strike action?

    Yes, provided the ballot at your workplace has met the required legal thresholds.  

  • Q15: If I voted ‘yes’ for strike action, am I committed to going on strike?

    No. Members can vote for strike action but taking part on a specific strike day is a decision for individual members. Voting ‘yes’ in the strike ballot increases the pressure on the government to fund fair pay for Radiography staff.  It is important that any strike action is effective, and we would hope that where our members are called to action, they would support the action.  

  • Q16: If staff are rostered for on-call shifts as part of an overnight service, should they honour these shifts or can they be covered on a voluntary basis?

    If the person who is rostered to work wants to strike then a volunteer who wants to work can. Don’t forget that the on-call service should not provide more than the life and limb cover even if it usually does.

  • Q17: What do I do if I am due to work from home on the day of the strikes? Am I expected to not complete work duties on this day?

    You should inform your manager on the day of the strike that you are striking and not working from home. You should also try to join your colleagues on the picket line.

  • Q18:  I am employed in multiple employers, and these multiple employers are being called out on the same day. What shall I do?

    Members can only be on strike if they are on the rota for the day(s) of action. If members have multiple workplaces that are called to strike on the same day, members should support the picket activity at the workplace they were due to be at that day.   

  • Q19: Can I support a picket in my capacity as a member of the public because I’m not employed where strike action has been called?

    We welcome public support for strike action. Only those members who are employed where strike action is taking place can formally participate in a picket line.   

  • Q20: Can staff not in a union strike if they work within Radiography?

    Staff who are within the following groups can participate in the strike:

    • Apprentice Radiographer
    • Assistant Practitioner
    • Clerical Worker
    • Clinical Vascular Scientist
    • Dosimetrist
    • Helper/HCA
    • Mammographer
    • Manager
    • MTO
    • Radiographer
    • Sonographer

    Staff working in the roles the strike mandate covers (see list above) can take strike action even if they are not members of the SoR or any other union. The SoR cannot and will not induce those staff to strike.

  • Q21: Could taking strike action affect my employment, pay, or visa? How much could my pay be docked if I take strike action?

    When deducting pay for participating in strike action NHS employers should only deduct a calendar day’s pay either 1/365th of your annual salary if you are paid monthly, or 1/30th or 1/31st of your monthly salary, depending on the number of days in the relevant month if you are paid weekly.  

    Any enhancements expected for working on a public holiday, bank holiday or unsociable hours would not be paid, but only basic pay would be deducted.  

    If you have seen the incorrect amount deducted from your pay due to strike action, please speak to your local SoR rep. 

  • Q22: Would taking strike action break my continuous employment?

    No. Taking industrial strike action does not break continuous employment if you return to work after the strike ends.  

    Taking strike action will not impact your entitlement to earned benefits through continuous service, such as paid sick leave or maternity leave.  

    However, days of strike action do not count towards relevant qualifying periods for certain statutory rights.    

  • Q23: How might my employer react to me taking strike action? Could they discipline me?

    Most employers respect the rights of workers to strike. An employer could try to discipline you for striking but it would have to take action against every employee. To do so on a large-scale would-be counter-productive and create further unnecessary industrial unrest. That’s why we believe disciplinary action is unlikely.  

    If you take part in lawful industrial strike action, you’re protected against Unfair Dismissal. It would also be automatically unfair to dismiss any member after 12 weeks if that member had stopped taking part in strike action within the first 12 weeks, or the employer had not taken reasonable steps to resolve the dispute at the date of dismissal.    

  • Q24: Will my pension be affected by taking strike action?

    Any effect of strike action on your pension will depend on which NHS pension scheme/section you are in.   

    1995 section:  

    The calculation for pension benefit is based on your best pensionable pay of the last three years. Therefore, if you are not planning to retire in the next three years, taking strike action has no impact on your 1995 section pension benefit. If you are planning to retire within three years, there may be an impact on your pension benefit. However, you can mitigate this either by using a previous year’s pensionable pay figure or making additional voluntary contributions to your pension if you chose.   

    2008 section:  

    The calculation for pension benefit is based on ‘total reckonable pay’ which is the average of the best three consecutive years pensionable pay in the last ten. Each year’s pensionable pay in the last ten years before retirement is increased by cost of living to bring that pay figure up to what it would be worth on the day of leaving. Therefore, if you are not planning to retire in the next ten years, taking strike action has no impact on your 2008 section pension benefit. If you are planning to retire within ten years, there may be an impact on your pension benefit. However, you can mitigate this either by using a previous year’s pensionable pay figure or making additional voluntary contributions to your pension if you chose.   

    2015 scheme:  

    The calculation for pension benefit is based on the ‘build up rate’ which is a fraction of your pensionable earnings each year. In the 2015 scheme you earn a pension of 1/54th of your pensionable earnings for each year in the scheme. Therefore, taking part in strike action is likely to have a small impact on your 2015 pension benefit you could mitigate this by making additional voluntary contributions to your pension if you chose.  

    It is important to seek both pensions advice and financial advice before making any pension related decision.  


    Whichever scheme you are in it is unlikely to make a significant impact in the long term.  

  • Q25: Would taking strike action impact my maternity pay?

    Taking strike action will not impact most member’s entitlement to maternity pay. However, if you take strike action in the eight-week period before the fifteenth week prior to your expected week of childbirth, there may be an impact on the amount of maternity pay you receive. This is because your maternity pay is calculated based on your average weekly earnings and regularly paid supplements.  

  • Q26: I am an overseas recruit can I take strike action?

    If the trust you work in has been called to take strike action by the SoR you can take strike action and have the same protections afforded to SoR members and non-trade union members alike under the legal ballot. Taking strike action will not affect your visa or future employment prospects.

  • Q27: Is there a strike fund I can claim from?

    No, the SoR doesn’t have a strike fund.

  • Q28: I’m a locum/agency worker. What should I do on strike days?

    If you are a locum with a short-term substantive contract (e.g. to cover maternity leave) then you can strike.

    If you are an agency worker who is employed by the agency and deployed to an NHS Trust then we ask

    that you inform the employer (your agency) that you can’t work on the strike days.

  • Q29: I’m on study leave/on a course on the strike days. Do I continue with these plans?

    Yes, if you pull out of study leave you may not get the opportunity again. You will still be out of the department. This

    will support the strike. You also may be asked to refund any payment made by the department to the training provider.

  • Q30: Can we decide not to cover 2 week wait patients in our life and limb service?

    There are no legal rules as to what services should be covered (if any) during a strike. It is for those taking strike action to determine what service they will provide using their clinical knowledge. If members are happy not to include two week wait patients (bearing in mind that life and limb is just that; examinations or treatment that will immediately cause loss of life or limb/brain/heart etc.) then that is fine.

  • Q31: Our department is very reliant on agency staff. They are booked to work on strike days and would like to continue to do so. What can we do about this?

    The SoR is asking agency staff, particularly those who are members, not to work on strike days. There is nothing we can do to stop them coming to work but if there are more staff than you require to provide life and limb cover then substantive staff can come out on strike and leave the agency staff to run the service.

  • Q32: I’d like to support any members who are striking. Can I donate to a strike fund?

    The SoR does not have a strike fund however there are other ways that you can support striking colleagues.

    • You can make contact with members in a trust which is striking and send messages of support including Forming a Whatsapp Group so you can have group calls with the picket line.
    • If there is a trust within easy reach you might want to go down to the picket line before work or at lunch time to support the picket line.
    • Everyone will receive badges to wear on the day expressing your support. You can take photos of members wearing the badges and post those on social media expressing your support.
    • If patients ask you about the strike then explain to them what is happening and why. Do not start this conversation unless the patient engages you first.
    • The SoR runs a Benevolent Fund for members in distress. Although we can’t use it to provide strike pay we can use it if member. Fall on hard times.
      Details can be found within on our Benevolent Fund section.


  • Q33: My manager is saying that if I strike whilst rostered to work a 12 hour shift, I’ll owe them 5 hours of time back as well as losing a days pay? Is this right?

    No, that is not correct. You are on strike for a working day, not for 7.5 hours. So whatever your working day is normally is the time you will be on strike for therefore you don’t owe any time back. Regardless of how long your normal working day is you should not be deducted any more than 1/365 of your annual salary.

    This is confirmed in the advice from Capsticks to NHS Trusts - pages 28-31,

  • Q34: I work as a sonographer in the NHS and am planning to strike. I also work for a private co. which provides a service to the Trust in the evenings. Should I also strike during the private shift?

    The dispute which the SoR is striking to resolve is with the NHS, not private employers. If you have an employment contract with this private company – as opposed to providing the service through an agency – then you should work these shifts as they are for a different employer. However, if you provide the service through an agency you can tell the agency you are not available to work on those evenings.

  • Q35: Will Rishi Sunak’s decision to accept the recommendations of other public sector pay review bodies mean that the SoR strikes will be cancelled?

    Unfortunately, the NHS Pay Review Body was stood down when negotiations commenced with those NHS Trade Unions involved in strike action in 2022.

    This means that the NHS Pay Review Body did not make a recommendation on pay and therefore the recommendations for other public sector workers will not affect the 5% pay for NHS workers. This means that, in the absence of a better offer, the SoR strikes will go ahead.

Strikes by other Unions

  • Q1: Should I cross the picket line of another trade union?

    You should attend work as normal because failure to do so could be seen as a breach of contract. You could stop at any picket line on the way into work to show support for striking colleagues. You could also visit picket lines during your lunch and break times and can offer support by taking refreshments to striking colleagues.  

  • Q2: Do I have to provide cover for striking colleagues?

    You should not cover the work of striking colleagues. You should attend work as normal and undertake your normal contractual role.   

  • Q3: Do I have to work overtime or do extra work on the bank?

    You cannot be made or required to undertake work that is outside of your contract of employment. You should support the lawful industrial action of colleagues by not undertaking extra contractual work and/or voluntary overtime.   

Useful Links

Please find additional links below that lead to further information provided by TUC, ACAS, NHS Employers and surrounding industrial action.

Guide to: Industrial action

TUC's very own guide on industrial action

Learn more

Managing industrial action

NHS Employers' provide a guide for managers handling industrial action

Learn more

Strikes and industrial action provide an overview of what going on Strike means and what is involved

Learn more

Taking part in industrial action and strikes's overview of what is involved in taking part in industrial action and strikes.

Learn more