Pay campaign

  • 01 Sep 2023

The NUJ's 2023 pay campaign calls for fair pay across journalism, providing practical support to chapels in their engagement with employers.

Bargaining with employers on fair pay is core to the work of the NUJ. Journalism is a vital public service that benefits us all, yet pay has remained stagnant or low for many NUJ members. Our union-wide pay campaign is calling on chapels to adopt practical action that seeks to restore wages.

A pay campaign tailored to the needs of members in each chapel is likely to gain support and achieve successful outcomes. Remember, the success of any campaign will require member input. Use newsletters, social media and surveys to ensure people are kept updated and feel part of campaign action. Pay champions can help spread knowledge of your campaign, encouraging others to mobilise on the issue too.

Pay claims

Seek a meeting with the company in early Autumn to ensure pay is on their agenda when setting upcoming budgets. Before submitting a claim, ensure you've collated supporting evidence. Use this checklist as a helpful starting point:

  • Cost of living increases and its impact on members financially 
  • Impact of inflation on members’ pay and finances
  • Previous pay freezes and low pay awards at the organisation if applicable
  • Analysis of freelance rates and efforts to ensure pay parity with staff
  • Member views from survey findings, remembering to include any data on retention and recruitment
  • Financial performance of the organisation 
  • Impact on equalities and how different groups may be affected
  • Summary of your claim including any additional conditions requested

Collective bargaining on pay will differ within branches, but key areas to consider as you prepare campaigns include:

  • Improvements to starting salaries and trainee rates
  • Analysis of pay progression structures in place, and how improvements can be made
  • Seeking home working allowances
  • Better night working/anti-social payments and other allowances
  • Pay transparency as a priority 

Remember to seek a meeting with the company  in early Autumn to ensure pay is on their agenda when setting upcoming budgets. 

NUJ pay claims 2023

National World: journalists took part in strike action in September, opposing the publisher's imposed a 4.5 per cent pay offer to members in a final and non-negotiable agreement. 

Newsquest: the union encouraged chapels to submit their pay claims in March. Information on campaign action, alongside model pay claim letters were circulated.

Reach: the NUJ Reach Group chapel voted in July and reluctantly accepted the company's pay offer. The NUJ is working with Reach to establish a new career progression framework to set transparent pay for journalists. 

Financial Times: members earning £42,000 or below received a consolidated pay rise of £4,200 and a 10 per cent pay increase was achieved for staff earning up to £52,000. In addition, minimum starting salaries increased by 10 per cent from 1 January, 2023. Read more on the chapel's success. 

Low pay

The cost of living crisis has had a financial impact on members' pockets, and those on low pay may find it especially difficult to juggle commitments. A campaign focused on increasing pay rates for members at your chapel can address both pay disparity and low pay. Research indicates that being in financial difficulty can lead to poor mental health and so successful pay campaigns will span beyond immediate financial reward. When campaigning to improve low pay rates, consider these actions:

  • Collate evidence of the impact of low pay on members using anonymous surveys
  • Ask members to keep their details updated to ensure you can feed back
  • Ask employers for data they hold on member pay rates and what analysis they do with the information 
  • Request a meeting with employers to raise concerns and begin discussions. Remember to take any survey data you may have collated with you

TUC minimum wage calculator

Pay transparency

Organisations are not required to state the salary offered for roles on job applications, and can ask applicants information about their current/previous salary. Research has shown that by removing requests for information and being transparent about salaries on offer, women can have a fairer chance at negotiating pay. Action that can help tackle inequality and reduce the gender pay gap is an important part of any pay campaign.

Chapels should consider adopting pay transparency as part of campaigning, asking employers to commit to disclosing salaries and a review of information presented as part of application processes. 

Our Fair Deal for Freelances campaign highlights that when negotiating pay with employers, chapels must invite the freelance representative to engage in discussions. Freelances form a large part of NUJ members and should have full voting rights so they can fully participation in chapel activities. 
Visit the "Call to branches and chapels" section on the campaign page to find out more on action to take. 
Freelance Charter
  • 19 Nov 2020
  • Publications
Ethnicity and disability pay gaps

The NUJ has joined calls from unions urging government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. We know that holding employers to account is critical in addressing the discrimination and inequality faced within workplaces. As part of your campaign, engage with employers about collating and publishing this information.

When circulating chapel surveys, include a voluntary option for members to disclose their ethnicity and whether they have a disability. This will allow you to analyse responses in further detail and identify any trends. 

When speaking with employers, remind them of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report outlining useful steps they can take in removing barriers to progression for disabled and minority ethnic staff.

Gender pay gap 

The NUJ has been actively campaigning for improvements to gender pay gap reporting. Companies must report through the gender pay gap reporting service each year. As submissions are open to the public, they can be a useful tool in beginning conversations with your employer. 

Equal pay

The Equality Act 2010 makes clear that men and women in the same employment doing 'equal work' must be given equal pay. In 2020, the NUJ supported BBC presenter Samira Ahmed, in her equal pay tribunal case with her employer. The judgement in her favour found a male colleague had been paid more than six times more for 'like work'. This means it involved similar tasks, knowledge and skills to carry out with any differences in the work are not of practical importance.

Chapels should ask employers whether they undertake equal pay audits to ensure information held is accurate. Access our detailed page on equal pay and include calls in your campaign. 

Holiday pay
Should you be getting holiday pay?

Many UK freelances and casuals are entitled to holiday pay in law, but an NUJ survey found that almost nine in 10 did not receive it. Are you losing out? You could be a worker and entitled to paid holiday if:

  • You do most of your work for one organisation (you may also be eligible if you work for more than one organisation).
  • You work under any contract (it doesn't need to be in writing) to do the work personally.
  • You do shifts in a workplace.
  • Someone else controls your work, when and how you do it.

If you think you are due holiday pay, contact [email protected].

More information in our Advice section: Employment status.

Calculating holiday pay

In the UK, statutory holiday pay must include any 'guaranteed' overtime. This is contractual overtime that your employer must offer, and you must accept. This applies to all 5.6 weeks of statutory holiday.

Holiday pay has been improved by rulings in both European and UK courts. Rulings from the ECJ apply only to the four weeks of holiday under the WTD. Many employers, though, have chosen to ignore the distinction and calculate all 5.6 weeks of holiday pay in the same manner.

The ECJ ruled in 2011 that holiday pay must be the same as your normal wages. It must include all the pay components you would normally have earned, had you been at work rather than on holiday. The Court's reasoning was that workers might be put off from taking holiday if they thought they were going to lose money. The same ruling also required holiday pay to include any component of normal wages regarded as being "linked intrinsically" to the performance of the worker's contractual tasks.

Other ECJ rulings have confirmed that:

  • Holiday pay must include all regularly worked overtime and all other regular payments.
  • Holiday pay must include regularly worked voluntary overtime

  • If some or all of a worker's pay is made up of results-based commission, holiday pay must include any commission the worker would have earned if they had not been on holiday.

Holiday pay must also cover any travel time payments, shift or weekend premium payments, and anti-social hours payments.

Your employer cannot calculate your holiday pay based on basic pay alone. If you are concerned about how your employer arrives at a figure for your holiday pay, speak to your NUJ rep or an official.

If you do not have a normal pattern of working hours – for example, if you work intermittent shifts under a zero hours contract – then a week's holiday pay must be based on your average weekly pay in the year before you take the holiday. Any weeks in which you earned nothing should be disregarded. The same arrangements apply if you work irregular hours under a permanent contract, but for only part of the year. The 52-week reference period was introduced in April, 2020; prior to this, the figure was 12 weeks.

Holiday pay graphic
Holiday pay poster

Should you be getting paid holiday?

30 September 2019
Holiday pay graphic
Holiday pay campaign leaflet

Should you be getting paid holiday?

05 November 2019
Home working allowances 

The covid-19 pandemic led to a shift in how many work. For our members working across the media industry, this has meant office closures and an increased requirement to work from home. Employers should be pushed on what home working allowances they are making available to staff. 

Member action

  • Engage with your chapel on pay by completing survey requests for information. These can help shape pay claims submitted to employers
  • Update your details to ensure the union is able to keep you informed on developments. You can do so at 

Not a member? Find out more about the union's work on pay, support we offer, and how you can be part of a collective voice. 

Join now

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