A large number of my employees are in a union. Our relationship with the union is fine, but we have been coming up against them in this years pay negotiations. Things are starting to get quite tense, and there is even talk about potential industrial action. 

We are not in a position to argue with the union; we cannot afford what they demand. If the employees do strike, can we use temporary workers to plug staffing gaps, or do we have to wait it out?

On 21 July 2022, laws preventing employment businesses from providing skilled temporary workers to plug staffing gaps as a result of industrial action were repealed, and agency workers were able to be used to cover for striking workers. However, on 13 July 2023, the High Court ruled that Government acted unlawfully when it changed this law, and as a result it has now been quashed and should not be relied upon.

Since 10 August 2023, employment agencies can no longer supply workers to cover a strike where they know this is the case. Those that do could face potential enforcement action under the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. Breaches of the law could result in an unlimited fine, or a fine of up to £5000.  

Consultation was launched by the government on 16 November 2023 on again repealing this ban.

Further information