The use of agency workers during strike action in Welsh public services

23 September 2016

23 September 2016

The Welsh Government has published a consultation seeking views on proposals about the use of temporary agency workers to cover for Welsh public service employees who are on strike or taking other industrial action.

The UK Government has consulted on proposals to remove regulations that prevent the supply of agency workers by employment businesses to cover employees taking industrial action. The Welsh government is consulting on proposals that sustain the principle of the regulation in Welsh public services, should it be removed by the UK government.


Currently Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 prohibits employment businesses from providing agency workers to cover the duties normally performed by an employee of an organisation who is taking part in a strike or other industrial action, or to cover the work of an employee covering the duties of an employee taking part in a strike or other industrial action.

The UK Government has consulted on a proposal to rescind this regulation.

Removing the regulation from the Conduct Regulations would allow employers, facing industrial action, to hire temporary agency workers from employment businesses who would then be able to perform some of the functions not being carried out due to the industrial action.

The Welsh Government believes that the use of agency workers, in this fashion, would undermine the right to strike by reducing the impact of industrial action, and affect the balance between employer and trade unions.

The Welsh Government also believes that the UK Government’s approach should not override their ability to pursue the Welsh way of delivering relevant public services. With this in mind, the Welsh Government proposes to protect Social Partnership by ensuring that the current position will continue to apply to Welsh public services should the UK Government act to rescind Regulation 7.

This means not allowing public service employers in Wales to use agency workers, in these circumstances, and this would continue to be the case in the event that the UK Government acts to allow recruitment businesses to offer them.

Views are sought from a wide range of stakeholders, including recruitment businesses, public sector employers, trade unions and the public who are affected by industrial action.

The consultation is open for responses until 6 December 2016.  A summary of the responses to the consultation will then be published and an outline of the next steps to be taken.