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22nd July 2022

New law for businesses impacted by industrial action

Several industries have opted for strike action this year to improve their pay and working conditions against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.

The railways saw the largest instance of industrial action since 1989 as members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), around 40,000 workers from Network Rail and 13 train operators, took part in strikes on three days in June. There will be further strike action by members of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Fireman (ASLEF) and RMT in July and August.

Other workers striking or planning strike action include barristers, postal workers and airline employees.

With industrial action across a range of sectors potentially disrupting public services, the UK Government has worked to repeal laws that restrict businesses impacted by industrial action to fill key roles with temporary, skilled workers.

As of July 22, a new law means that businesses can fill essential vacant positions at short notice to minimise the impact of the strike action for the public. The change in law will apply across all sectors in England, Scotland and Wales.

While the law change is expected to provide greater flexibility to businesses, they will still be required to abide by broader health and safety rules to keep employees and the public safe. Hiring temporary workers with the qualifications and skills required to meet the obligations of the roles will be the responsibility of individual businesses.

Announcing the new law, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “From today, businesses exposed to disruption caused by strike action will be able to tap into skilled, temporary workers to provide the services that allow honest, hardworking people to get on with their lives. That’s good news for our society and for our economy.”

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps added: “This vital reform means any future strikes will cause less disruption and allow hardworking people to continue with their day to day lives.”

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