Subject to Parliamentary approval, these changes will apply across England, Scotland and Wales.
The UK Government has announced plans to remove the restriction that prevents employment businesses (agencies) from supplying an employer with temporary workers to cover the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike, or other industrial action or by any other worker who has been assigned to cover the striking worker.
Draft Regulations have been published, but this change requires Parliamentary approval so the timing of when this change will take effect – if it is approved by both Houses of Parliament – is not yet known.
The government has also announced plans to increase by four-fold the maximum damages that a court can award against a trade union where strike action has been found to be unlawful. This change is due to come into effect from 21 July 2022. The cap that applies to each union depends on the size of the union, but for the largest unions (those with 100,000 members or more), the maximum award will increase from £250,000 to £1 million.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
If the Regulations come into force, employers across all sectors will no longer be restricted from engaging temporary workers directly when industrial action is taking place. Employers will however still need to comply with their health and safety and other obligations and ensure that any agency workers they use to cover striking employees have the necessary skills and qualifications to ensure they meet those obligations.