The Government has introduced new legislation to allow agency workers to cover the workforce during a strike
To help employers to limit the impact of strike action, the government has relooked to lift restrictions which prohibit employment agencies providing temporary staff to provide cover for striking workers, or colleagues covering for them.
In 2015 the Government did look at this legislation, called, the “nonsensical restrictions” on using agency staff in this way as part of a wider trade union reform package. The legislation did not go ahead but is now being looked at again due to the impact strikes have on economic factors and the wider society.
The Law changed is regulation 7 of the Conduct Regulation which prohibits businesses from providing agency workers to cover the duties normally performed by an employee of an organisation who is taking part in a strike or other industrial action, or to cover the work of an employee covering the duties of an employee taking part in a strike or other industrial action. Previously agencies who breach the regulation commits a criminal offence, alongside employers who use agency staff could be charged with aiding and abetting that criminal offence.
When and will the changes come into force?
The government has now formally introduced this change, which will replace the existing Conduct regulations to Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022
How will this support Employers?
The changes are unlikely to have a significant impact in those sectors that need specialised skills. The government are aware of this and has made it clear that employers will remain responsible “to hire cover workers with the necessary skills and/or qualifications to meet their obligations”.
Many employers already have skills shortages and the idea that theirs is a supply of skilled agency workers just waiting to fill those gaps is doubtful, but it enables options for the Employers for that additional support.
For other industries that do have the back fill options, this will support them to continue to run day to day during strike actions with minimal impact on the service delivery.
We are unsure how this will impact employers and employees yet, but if you are worried how this may impact your business or plan to use this as an option, contact us at the HRX and we can support you with the right advice.