Our activity at a glance
The Work Rights Centre opened the first Employment Rights Clinic in the London Borough of Brent in June 2016. We began by offering 4 hours of pro bono casework a week, then gradually increased our service as soon as we were able to secure more funding. From January 2019 we have established the same model in Manchester. The significant increase in client numbers reflects the investment in our Employment Rights Clinics, as well as the real need for its service.
Two spike are notable. The 2020 figures reflect the effect of the Covid-19 lockdowns. First instituted in March that year, the lockdowns triggered an exponential increase in questions about dismissals, redundancy, and the government support schemes. The second spike in 2021, reflects the role of Brexit. When freedom of movement ended, millions of EU citizens had to obtain a new status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to secure their right to live and work in the UK. The spike of 2021 includes these enquiries.
The majority of our clients experienced an employment rights issue such as unlawful deductions of wages or unfair dismissal. The second most common issue was related to employability, such as the inability to translate one’s skills into adequate employment, followed by social security, or the inability to access work-related benefits such as tax credits. It is important to note that precarious work often overspills into other areas of life. A number of clients approached us with complex issues which straddled employment rights, housing, and social security.
Solving employment rights breaches is a complex process which takes several steps to complete. We always begin by providing information. We spend time contacting employers and government agencies, helping clients draft Letters before Action and Grievance Letters when needed. We also assist clients in formalising their work arrangements, coaching them on how to draft invoices and timesheets.
In instances when we are not able to solve a case alone, we signpost to other organisations. In every case however, we pride ourselves in valuing depth over expediency. The figure below outlines some of the steps we take when guiding clients through their journeys to employment justice.
We also work hard to address issues of professional (im)mobility. Our advisers provide hands-on support with drafting CVs, writing cover letters, and using job search strategies. When needed, they refer clients to English language classes and other forms of training which can equip them with the skills to navigate the UK’s competitive job market.
Finally, we provide information and hands-on support for our clients’ social security needs. When needed, our advisers offer information on in-work benefits, access to a General Practitioner (GP), as well as the right to reside after Brexit.