Recruiters keep a close eye on changes to strike laws

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Recruitment firms have been urged to check their contracts in light of changes set to be ushered in as part of wider reforms to trade union laws.

The Trade Union Bill received Royal Assent a few weeks ago and sets out a number of significant changes to existing legislation. But more important for recruiters is the secondary legislation which is expected to follow, which for the first time will enable agency workers to carry out the duties of employees who are taking part in industrial action.

Up until now this practice has been prohibited by law but ministers intend to change that by repealing Regulation 7 of the Conduct Regulations of the Employment Agencies Business Regulations 2003. Although the change would likely put more business in the direction of recruitment companies, many in the sector have expressed reservations about the implications of the new arrangements.

Aside from the fact that agency workers might be forced to work in hostile or particularly challenging environments, there is also widespread speculation that the new laws would see employers revisit the terms and conditions of contracts they have with agencies. It is possible that some may insist on an agreement that an agency will not refuse to supply staff to cover during strikes.

Kate Shoesmith, head of policy at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said previously: “We are not convinced that putting agencies and temporary workers into the middle of difficult industrial relations situations is a good idea for agencies, workers or their clients.

“Our members want to provide the best possible levels of service to their clients but they also have a duty of care to the workers they provide.”

For advice on all Employment Law issues, please contact Richard Gvero, Joint Senior Partner and Head of Employment law.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.