A sizeable proportion of the clients who approached the Work Rights Centre hoping to improve their professional mobility did so. They took up employment, started work in a self-employed capacity, began volunteering or enrolled in English language classes (ESOL) and other training, in some cases taking up several of these investments in professional mobility at the same time – this explains why percentages add up to more than 100.
It is also encouraging to learn that our advisers’ efforts to inform clients of their work rights translated into long-term civic knowledge. A vast majority of our clients felt better equipped to understand their employment status and associated rights, to look for work, and to access social security.
Looking at the cases of non-payment, the most common employment rights inquiry we receive at the Clinic, our advisers have assisted clients in recovering thousands of pounds. This includes cases of unlawful deductions, as well as those where clients were not paid at all.
We are also pleased that none of the clients who sought our advice for an employment rights issue were working in the same conditions. In many cases the issues were solved, and they either retained their positions or moved jobs. The rest of the times, clients had not solved their issue yet, but had gained new work instead.
It is important to remember that employment is a complex area of law. Despite our advisers' best efforts, not every case we assisted was successfully concluded. At times, the companies which owed our clients money declared bankruptcy, making it extremely difficult to recover it. Other times, it was clients themselves who decided to drop the claim, dissuaded by the slowness of the legal process. It is essential to understand that while our advice is free, the financial and psychological costs incurred over the duration of negotiations, as well as the legal fees which occur during the more advanced stages of the process can be wearing.
The support we provide constitutes one part of a complex employment justice system. We are aware that solving Britain's precarious work problem requires concerted action across the public, private, and third sector organisations. In the meantime we do our best to improve the things we can, and take pride in the fact that none of our clients were working in the same precarious conditions.
Overall, the vast majority of clients who responded to our monitoring questionnaire were satisfied with our service. This motivates us to continue growing the Clinic, and bring the conversation on employment rights to the people who need it the most.