Where employees take strike action, can their employer hire temporary staff to cover their work?

Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/3319) precludes the provision of temporary workers to perform the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike or other industrial action. An employment business supplying workers in these circumstances will be committing a criminal offence, and the employer could be found to be aiding and abetting that offence.

The restriction does not apply if strike action is unofficial (ie is not endorsed by a union) or where the employment business providing the temporary worker does not know about the industrial action and has no reasonable grounds for knowing about the industrial action.

The Regulations do not prevent an employer from directly employing temporary employees on fixed-term contracts to cover the work of employees on strike, rather than hiring agency workers.