Hiring agency staff to cover industrial action

Hiring agency staff to cover industrial action
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

The Government has launched a consultation on removing what it describes as the “outdated regulations” which currently prevent agency workers from covering strikes.

Under these proposals, while employment businesses must satisfy themselves that any worker supplied is suitably qualified in order to maintain high standards of service, agency workers would be able to provide temporary cover in all sectors.

Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 currently prevents employment businesses (often referred to as agencies) from supplying agency workers to replace workers who are taking part in an official strike or other industrial action.

Repealing this regulation would not affect the ability of workers to strike or the protections workers on strike currently enjoy, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) argues.

Full details of the consultation can be found on the GOV.UK website and the deadline for responding with comments is 16 January 2024.

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It says that, while the Government continues to believe in the importance of an individual’s ability to strike and the ability of trade unions to advocate for their members’ interests, this needs to be balanced with the rights of third parties not involved in the dispute.

“Regulation 7 is a significant interference in the operations of private companies and other employers,” the DBT states. “It also prevents work seekers being offered certain assignments that they may otherwise wish to take.”

The TUC reacted to the news by highlighting that the Government was defeated in the High Court in June this year after it “rushed through” new laws that allowed agencies to supply employers with workers to fill in for those on strike.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), which represents suppliers of agency workers, called the announcement of the consultation “a disappointment, given the scale of opposition from employers and workers to the previous proposal”.

To find out more about agency workers, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Can I use agency workers to cover staff who are on strike?

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