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New law makes it easier to use agency workers during strikes
by Susie Hughes at 11:37 24/06/22 (News on Business)
The Government has acted to make it easier for businesses to use temporary staff to help ease disruptions caused by strike action by bringing in a new law to allow businesses to supply skilled agency workers to plug staffing gaps during industrial action.
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Under current trade union laws employment businesses are restricted from supplying temporary agency workers to fill duties by employees who are taking part in strikes. The Government argues that this can have a disproportionate impact, including on important public services, causing severe disruption to the UK economy and society – from preventing people from getting to work to creating challenges for how businesses manage their workforce.

The new legislation, repealing these legal restrictions, will give businesses impacted by strike action the freedom to tap into the services of employment businesses who can provide skilled, temporary agency staff at short notice to temporarily cover essential roles for the duration of the strike.

Removing these regulations will give employers more flexibility but businesses will still need to comply with broader health and safety rules that keep both employees and the public safe. It would be their responsibility to hire cover workers with the necessary skills and/or qualifications to meet those obligations.

Future action
The Government makes the case that it would also help mitigate against the impact of future strikes, such as those seen on railways recently, by allowing trained, temporary workers to carry out crucial roles to keep trains moving. For instance, skilled temporary workers would be able to fill vacant positions such as train dispatchers, who perform tasks such as giving train drivers the signal they are safe to proceed and making sure train doors aren’t obstructed.

The change in law will apply across all sectors, and subject to parliamentary approval, are made through a statutory instrument and are set to come into force over the coming weeks and will apply across England, Scotland and Wales.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: "Repealing these 1970s-era restrictions will give businesses freedom to access fully skilled staff at speed, all while allowing people to get on with their lives uninterrupted to help keep the economy ticking."


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