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Consultation launched on hiring agency staff to cover industrial action

on Friday, 24 November 2023.

Earlier this year, the High Court quashed regulations allowing employers to hire agency staff to cover the duties of striking workers. In response, the Government has now launched a new consultation on the same proposal.


Agencies have typically been prevented from supplying employers with temporary workers either to:

  • cover duties normally performed by workers who are striking or taking industrial action
  • otherwise to cover the duties of other staff assigned to cover striking colleagues

In 2022, as part of its attempts to reduce the disruption caused by industrial action, the Government introduced regulations to abolish that rule (2022 Regulations). Under the 2022 Regulations, employers were able to use temporary staff to lessen the impact of strikes. However, following a judicial review of the 2022 Regulations, the High Court quashed them on the basis that the Government had failed to consult before legislating.

New consultation

The issue of reducing disruption caused by strike action is still high on the Government's agenda. It considers the prohibition on the use of agency staff during industrial action to have an unnecessary and disproportionate impact on employers. Rather than appeal against the High Court judgment, the Government has instead commenced a new consultation on the same proposal.

The closing date for the consultation is 16 January 2024. If the proposal is confirmed following consultation, draft regulations will need to be introduced to mirror the 2022 Regulations. We will continue to report on developments in this area.

For more information or advice, please contact Lorna Scully in our Employment team on 0121 227 3719, or complete the form below.