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Law change allows organisations to employ agency workers during strikes

A new law is now in place that will enable organisations impacted by industrial action to plug staffing gaps with agency workers, the Government has said.

The changes came into force last week (21 July 2022) via the repeal of trade union laws that restrict employment businesses from providing temporary agency workers to fill vacant positions caused by staff striking.

In particular, the Government amended The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 to omit provisions which put restrictions on businesses on providing work-seekers in industrial disputes.

Alongside this, the Government passed an order, The Liability of Trade Unions in Proceedings in Tort (Increase of Limits on Damages) Order 2022, increasing the amount of damages which may be awarded against a trade union from £250,000 to £1,000,000.

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Announcing the changes, the Government said that "businesses most affected by industrial action will be able to call upon skilled, temporary staff at short notice to plug essential positions".

"This will help to mitigate the disproportionate impact strike action can have both on the UK economy and society by allowing crucial services, that we all use on a daily basis, to continue functioning."

The change in the law will apply across all sectors, for example, in education, where strike action can force parents to stay at home with their children rather than go to work, the Government added.

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “In light of militant trade union action threatening to bring vital public services to a standstill, we have moved at speed to repeal these burdensome,1970s - style restrictions.

“From today, businesses exposed to disruption caused by strike action will be able to tap into skilled, temporary workers to provide the services that allow honest, hardworking people to get on with their lives. That’s good news for our society and for our economy.”

Adam Carey

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