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UK – Advice for staffing firms on Doctors’ strike

21 June 2012

The British Medical Association, which represents two thirds of doctors, has taken industrial action over pension cuts today, delaying thousands of operations across the UK. In response the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) reminded staffing firms of several restrictions which may apply to them when supplying staff during industrial action.

Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulation 2003 (the Conduct Regulations) prohibits an employment business from supplying workers to clients to perform the following:

(a) the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike or other industrial action ("the first worker"); or

(b) the duties normally performed by any other worker employed by the hirer and who is assigned by the hirer to perform the duties normally performed by the first worker.

Hence staffing firms and businesses “must not supply a work seeker to a hirer to perform the duties of one of the hirers staff (the first worker) or any other worker who has been assigned by the hirer to carry out the duties of the first worker where the first worker is taking part in official industrial action (unless you are unaware or have no reason or grounds for knowing that the first worker is involved in industrial action),” the REC said.

If a staffing firm has already supplied staff to a client company before industrial action has taken place, the REC said the crux then lies in whether the employment business can continue to supply those agency workers, centring on the question whether or not the agency workers will be doing the work of the striking employees.

“In all cases where members are aware that there could be potential issues relating to industrial action, it is advisable for members to seek additional protection by requesting a written undertaking from the client that the staff the client has requested will not be used to replace workers who are on official strike or to replace staff that the client has transferred to undertake the duties of workers who are taking part in official industrial action,” the REC recommended. 

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