A new law has been passed allowing companies to bring in agency workers on a temporary basis to address staffing shortages caused by industrial action.
Under the new rules, employers are able to fill vital roles with temporary, skilled workers to help ensure crucial public services and people’s daily lives remain uninterrupted by workforce strikes.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had previously presented the proposals to cabinet colleagues in response to concerns that walkouts may spread throughout the economy.
Ministers also moved to repeal laws prohibiting employers from using agency workers to temporarily replace striking employees.
Previous restrictions on agency employees had been in force since 1973, when Edward Heath’s Conservative Government feared picket line attacks on workers who broke strikes. In his 2015 election campaign, David Cameron vowed to amend the legislation, however, the plan was eventually shelved due to strong union opposition.
The new rules took effect on 21 July 2022 and cover all industries across England, Scotland and Wales.
In response to the new law, 12 trade unions have launched a legal challenge. The action is being brough by Unite, Usdaw, BFAWU, UCU, RMT, Aslef, FDA, NEU, PCS, POA, Balpa and the GMB.