Everything you need to know about the Employment Rights Advice and Support for Underserved London Communities programme

By Emma McClelland and Raewyn Jones - 04 April 2023

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is currently working to coordinate and strengthen the Mayor's work to protect the rights of migrant workers in London. As part of this work, they have commissioned us to provide services which aim to increase underserved communities' access to appropriate and high-quality employment advice.

Their objectives are threefold:

  • To improve community organisations' understanding and awareness of employment rights and relevant pathways to justice so they can better advise and support Londoners facing issues at work.
  • To increase access to free, high-quality employment advice for underserved communities in London, including by strengthening signposting and collaboration among advice organisations.
  • To improve advice and support services addressing the intersection of migration issues and labour exploitation.

Why is this important?

Many Londoners face violations of their employment rights, exploitative work practices, and forced labour. Certain groups are more at risk, including migrant workers, disabled people, and Black and Asian Londoners. Many also face significant barriers to seeking support and enforcing their employment rights, including language skills, NRPF and insecure immigration status. The impact of lost wages and exploitation on wellbeing and mental health remain unquantified and contribute to their experience of financial hardship, poverty and powerlessness. 

How will this programme help?

The capacity and structure of advice and support available presents different barriers to challenging employment issues, including limited appropriate advice, limited capacity among specialist services, and under-resourcing of employment advice. This programme will improve community organisations' understanding and awareness of employment rights and relevant pathways to justice to better advise and support Londoners facing issues at work.

How will it be delivered?

The course will be designed in consultation with participants by our Head of Employment and delivered jointly with our Head of Immigration. We will train three cohorts of 10-12 participants each. Each cohort will attend five in-depth training sessions (each running at two to three hours). Each session will include a pre-read with references to legislation; practical guidance; and templates, to ensure that participants have a resource base they can always turn to. Each session will conclude with a short quiz. 

We will also work more closely with five organisations after the sessions conclude, providing employment advice drop-in and supervision. We envisage that these sessions will include a half day drop in, where we and partner advisers see clients together, followed by another half day of case discussion. In our view, this is an optimal way of allowing new advisers to acquire best practice by shadowing our senior staff, and developing case strategies together.

However, we also recognise that the best projects are collaborative, and are open to adapting this model based on our partners' needs. 

Where will it be delivered?

The training will be online, drop-in clinics will be in person at selected participants' offices in London, and the community of practice will be hybrid, online and in person.

When will it be delivered?

Training Programme:

  • Cohort 1: July - August 2023 (5 Sessions: Friday 7, 14, 21, 28 July, and 4 August) 
  • Cohort 2: September 2023 (5 Sessions: Friday 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Sept.)
  • Cohort 3: October - November 2023 (5 Sessions: Friday 6, 13, 20, 27 Oct. 3 Nov.)

Drop-In Clinics: July to November 2023

Community of Practice: July 2023 - 31 August 2024

How will it benefit participants?

Organisations keen to improve their service (i.e. develop their knowledge and expertise of employment rights and its intersection with immigration status) and upskill/retain their staff will find this project hugely beneficial. We envision the biggest beneficiaries of this training to be organisations in London that are closely embedded in migrant communities, especially in deprived boroughs, but who lack the legal expertise to provide comprehensive employment advice. 

Participants will also benefit from involvement in a community of practice (e.g., an online information channel, working group and resources), which will support all newly trained caseworkers to ask questions, share information, discuss signposting capacity, and promote continuous learning and development. 

We plan to provide:

  • a policy bank, where charities can access employment-specific policies and templates, from client assessment, to note taking, case closure, and referrals;
  • a Slack channel, where participants will get updates, ask questions, share resources, and signpost; and
  • case study workshops, which will examine anonymised 'live' cases, enabling attendees to understand how employment and immigration law intersect in practice.

In recognition of the pressures on the small and grassroots organisations, we will also be offering financial incentives for participation.

Who will deliver the programme?

The Work Rights Centre (WoRC) is a charity developed for and by migrants. Every day our multilingual team of caseworkers combats migrants' poverty by empowering them to exit precarious employment with expert legal advice, and by improving their social mobility with in-depth employability support. We have legal expertise in employment and immigration, a track-record of capacity building, and understand London's diverse advice ecosystem. 

How to apply:

We have now closed the form for expressions of interest, but if you have any questions or would like to request further information, email raewyn.jones@workrightscentre.org 

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