Draft legislation introduced making it easier for employers to hire agency staff to cover striking workers


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On 23 June, in light of rail strikes, and threatened strikes by teachers and airport ground crew, the government announced that it will change current law to:

  • Enable businesses to engage temporary agency staff via employment businesses during industrial action.
  • Increase the cap on damages which can be awarded against a trade union by a court where industrial action is found to be unlawful. 

Since then the Liability of Trade Unions in Proceedings in Tort (Increase of Limits on Damages) Order 2022 and draft Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 have been laid before Parliament.  

The Order increases the limits on the maximum damages award which may be made against a trade union where industrial action is found to be unlawful. The limits are increased, with effect from 21 July, as follows:

  • Unions with less than 5,000 members; a rise from £10,000 to £40,000.
  • For those with 5,000 to 24,999 members; a rise from £50,000 to £200,000.
  • For those with 25,000 to 99,999 members; a rise from £125,000 to £500,000.
  • Unions with 100,000 members of more; a rise from £250,000 to £1,000,000.

The draft Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022, if approved, will revoke the provisions contained in Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. This prevents an employment business from supplying an employer with temporary workers to perform duties normally performed by a worker who is on strike or taking industrial action. If the Regulations are approved then employers will no longer be restricted to engaging temporary workers directly when industrial action is taking place.

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